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28th July 2016

Why Wellbeing Should Be At The Forefront Of Your Employee Engagement Strategy

Why wellbeing should be at the forefront of your employee engagement strategy

Work place stress is costing £26 billion per annum in lost days, staff turnover and lower company productivity (MIND, 2010)

Staff disengagement is costing the UK economy £64.7 billion per year (Gallup, 2010)

Employee engagement has a direct link with well being. We know that the happier and more fulfilled people are in work, the better they perform. Your employees are the heart of your organisation, without them, your business can’t run.

“if people like what they do, they will do it better”.– Henry Englehardt, former CEO of Admiral

There is mounting evidence that companies with highly engaged staff perform better than those with highly disengaged staff. Health & wellbeing plays a key part in employee engagement because without wellbeing there is a high risk of burnout especially among the most engaged employees as they are willing to push themselves and will do whatever is needed for the business.

The 2014 Engage for Success report, The Evidence: Wellbeing and Employee Engagement concluded that employees who are engaged AND experience a positive state of wellbeing are found to be physically and mentally health than other employees. It only makes senses that in order to get the best out of your people you need to become a stress reducing ninja.

Here are just 11 out of many ways to focus on wellbeing in work:

1. Switch off and lead by example

Sometime people are so engaged they forget about having a healthy work life balance (or it’s the opposite and they feel they can’t afford to switch off lest they be seen to not be working hard enough). In the first case it’s great because your people are on the bus with you but they’re probably following your example.

It’s very common these days for people to work non-stop and being unable to switch off until they go to bed. I’ve often found myself checking email while having a day off! Make your work life balance better by switching off, trusting your people and taking time to rest so you don’t burnout. Others will follow your lead and you need to remind them that it’s ok for them to relax, switch off and enjoy their time outside of work too!

2. Listen

People are usually quite vocal about things they are not happy about and would like to change. Take a moment to ask your employees what would make a positive difference to how they feel in work, what can we do as a business to relive any stress and tension. You can do this in person in meetings, small focus groups or even via a survey.

You’re likely to have a mix of responses from the tiniest things (such as introducing fruit) to bigger things (such as a new office or free office parking). Even if you can’t change everything people will be happier if they feel that they have been heard and you’re actively taking steps to improve things for them.

3. Appoint your wellbeing champions

To make wellbeing a real focus in your business someone needs to take on the responsibility of making things happen. Ask your people to nominate themselves or find the person best placed for this. You need someone to champion wellbeing and make it their responsibility to look after people, be the go-to person and introduce new wellbeing initiatives.

The person should be passionate about this and for most it’s very rewarding knowing that they can make a real difference to how people feel and ultimately improve engagement within the business.

4. Recruit the right people

Your wellbeing and engagement efforts will go further if you have the right people on your team. Review your recruitment strategy and find out what works well and what doesn’t. Do you have the right people with the right attitudes?

Earlier this year Patrick Steed and I attended and ran a conference energiser at the Happy Manifesto Conference. At the conference we heard Henry Searle and Tarun Gidoomal from NextJump talk about how they have a ‘no fire’ policy which gives their people a sense of security and they also interview for humility.

5. Be flexible

Rigid policies and ways of working simply don’t work in an organisation truly committed to engagement. If your processes and policies work against empowerment, ownership and productivity then they need to change. A little flexibility can go a long way.

Last year at the engage for success conference I heard an inspiring talk from John Timpson, chairman of the Timpson Group. John said that they give their people flexibility in decision making. Their staff only use the pricing list as a guide and they can charge customers what they want! (and it works!)

Now that may not work for your business but it definitely gives food for thought.

6. Trust

Trust your guys, at the end of the day your front line people deal with your customers every day. If you have the right people on your team, then you should trust them to make the right decisions. If they happen to make a mistake every now and then, that’s ok too. Help them to rectify the mistake and learn from it.

You can only do what Timpson did if you have absolute trust in the people you choose to be part of your organisation.

7. Values, Values, Values

Refresh your values. Take a look at your existing values. Do they reflect your brand? Do they reflect your ethos? Do they resonate with your people?

If you can’t answer yes to all three questions, then it’s time to revisit your values. Ask your team for their input and find new ways to breathe life into your values. Make sure everyone knows your values, not just the words but the meanings and how they are translated into their everyday work.

8. Make communication a two-way street

The CIPD state ‘positive, open, two-way communication and consultation is vital to gaining the commitment of employees’. Communication has to go both ways. You need to be able to communicate messages clearly but every employee should also feel that they can communicate and voice their thoughts equally. Find new ways to communicate, share messages, ask for feedback and encourage social communication.

Make it the norm for everyone to be open and encourage that chatter. In addition to our standard methods of communication (email, phone, face to face, online software) we also have a WhatsApp group for the team! This works really well as everyone gets messages instantly and can chat outside of work times but people can also mute it when necessary (i.e. hols). Most of us prefer to use the WhatsApp group over email for short messages that aren’t urgent.

9. Create shared experiences

One of the reasons team building events are so valuable is because they create a shared experience for everyone involved. Great team building doesn’t just create an experience, it brings people together and creates an experience that is memorable, fun and makes a real impact. That’s what we deliver with our inspireMe team building.

Corporate team building events are one of many ways to create a shared experience. You can do this in-house with a day focused on getting to know each other, sharing the vision and working together or simply with having regular socials and events outside of work.

10. Introduce wellbeing initiatives

There are numerous wellbeing initiatives that you can introduce into your business and this is where your wellbeing/engagement champions will do their best work. In our office one of the things we introduced two years ago was a nap room. We provided a space in which we could chill out, have more personal chats and take a power nap when needed! We’ve also used it for massages on the odd occasion!

There also needs to be focus providing advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health issue. Mind offer businesses support to help improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

There are lots of bigger initiatives and programmes you can introduce. Admiral for example have their very own workplace choir, called the Admiral Inspire Choir, run by us in each of their main sites! It’s part of their ministry of health and does wonders for stress, health & wellbeing, productivity and attrition.

11. Have fun

The CIPD believe that ‘without some fun and excitement, the wellbeing approach will never get off the ground.’

Yes,yes, yes! Work should be fun and should be a home away from home.

Make work fun and a great place to be. People will want to be in work and your culture will be more vibrant and welcoming. Take google for instance, they make work fun everyday not just once a year at a companywide party. They encourage their people to have fun every day and have invested in making their offices fun, vibrant and cool.

Admiral also have a ministry of fun who are a team dedicated to making work fun and they organise weekly social activities and events for staff.

The more fun people have the more it impacts how they interact with each other, builds stronger relationships, keeps positive energy flowing and encourages open communication.

A win-win all round.

As always, thanks for reading!

Lynn Abhulimen | Inspire Me Team Staff
Written by

Lynn Abhulimen

Client Happiness & Brand Guardian

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