As a big advocate for employee well-being, I’m often ‘amazed’ at how businesses sometimes only touch the surface of the problem without exploring deeper and trying to understand where the harm is coming from.

We are past the time when the case for investing in employees’ well-being was primarily financial. Employees stay with companies that make them feel respected, heard, and keep them healthy. 

Subscribing to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a good first step, but from my experience, companies are more reactive than proactive and usually seek help when something is already not working as it should. This trend is changing, and we see more and more proactive business, but there is still more to be desired.

Here is the ‘ugly truth’ – employees’ well-being is not going to improve if there is no change in the mindset of the whole organisation, starting from the top and going all the way down to every single member of the organisation.

How much are you doing for the well-being of your employees?

As a business leader or HR professional, there are four key questions that you need to ask yourself to understand if you are doing enough:

1. Is well-being part of our company values, mission statement and culture?

Promoting healthy work culture is the foundation for success of any investment you will make in the employee’s well-being. Culture is something that can be evaluated and changed when needed.

When companies link the well-being of the employees with their culture and values, we can see evident improvements in employees’ satisfaction, retention, and increased profit.

Well-being is part of the business model of the organisation, and this should extend to clients, suppliers and even the families of the employees.  

2. Is well-being part of our senior management agenda?

A study of over 400 HR professionals found that for a third of them (31 per cent) the lack of buy-in from senior leaders was the biggest barrier to implementing well-being strategies, followed by limited budgets (25 per cent) (Westfield Health, 2020).

Not having well-being on the senior management agenda will mean that your efforts and well-being policy is disintegrated, and you are not benefiting from a priceless support and role modelling.

Having the health of the business aligned with the well-being of your employees will mean that the key players in the company should make it part of their strategy, investments, and business processes.

The topic should be an integral part of senior management and board meetings, restructuring, and changes in the business.

Unfortunately, what we see is more reactive than proactive thinking, efforts are usually made ‘post factum; when there is already the negative impact on the well-being of the employees. 

From experience, I know that companies who had their well-being structures and policies in place before the outbreak of COVID-19 managed to respond quicker and more effectively to the challenges presented.

3. What is our middle management doing daily about employee well-being?

Middle managers often are the ones that face the direct consequences of poor well-being at work, because they must deal with low productivity and lack of resources when employees are not available. They will spot the problems earlier then senior leadership and HR and will be able to respond quicker.

Invest in building awareness and giving the middle managers the skills and tools to recognise poor health and support their team members in difficult times. You are helping them to reduce the negative effect on the employees, their quality of life and the business in general.

The middle managers are your ambassador for healthy culture and good well-being. Improving their self-care skills and resilience should go hand in hand with the rest of your efforts.

4. What are our employees doing to protect their own well-being?

“You can take the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink” goes the saying, and it is so valid in this case.

Companies can offer countless means and ways of support, training, and incentives, but if employees don’t make the first step and use them, all the efforts are “gone with the wind”.

A big misconception is that the employer is the only one responsible for the employees’ well-being. In truth, the responsibility is shared between the employer and employees.

The employees have the responsibility to speak up when there are processes that are damaging for their health, to reach out for help when they are unwell and to protect themselves as much as possible.

If you gave positive answers on all four questions – Well done! But don’t get too comfortable, and keep up with the efforts, make them part of your annual agenda, ask your employees what they need and empower them to come back with concerns and ideas.

If you didn’t manage to reply positively to most of the questions, it is probably time to revisit your strategy, and if you don’t have one – start working on it. Getting external and internal perspective is equally important in this case.

At the end, we want employees to come to work feeling productive, healthy, and content. In this way, they are more likely to stay with us for the long haul!

Dragan is an accredited Coach Practitioner with the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC) and can be reached at [email protected] or by visiting www.carobconsult.com.

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