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What can organisations do to support workplace wellbeing?

Posted by Claire Stradling

Following on from a recent webinar, where Heeral Gudka, a leading life and executive coach talked about the four pillars of wellbeing in the workplace, and my follow up blog last week where I explored some of the initiatives organisations are offering to support mental and psychical wellbeing, this blog explores further environmental and financial initiatives companies can offer to support its workforce

Heeral stated that financial pressures caused nearly half of UK employees the most stress in their lives. Such stress and pressure undoubtedly will affect productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.

So what can and do organisations do, to support a very real problem that is probably affecting a significant proportion of its workforce?

Many company's offer access to good financial advisors to support employees. This can be anonymous by simply making details available in the kitchen, a breakout area or internal intranet as some may be embarrassed or simply do not know where to turn. Organisations can retain talent by helping and offering support at little or no cost rather than lose people for maybe a pay increase of just a few thousand pounds.

Some are offering low or interest-free loans which are deducted from the salary on a monthly basis and repaid in full as part of its terms, should someone leave. Interest-free season ticket loans and save as you earn scheme are also very popular with employees.

For those in financial difficulty, I would advise being honest with your employer. If you are considering asking for a pay increase it is important to present clearly why you deserve one from a business perspective - maybe increased performance, added responsibility or no increase for years so you are putting a clear business case forward. Be honest about your financial situation as part of your negotiations. Also, do your research - see what similar roles are paying with other organisations on job boards or speak to a recruiter.

Finally, the last pillar of wellbeing Heeral explored was the environmental impact and how the place in which we spend so much time working in can impact wellbeing and performance.

A recent study by the University of Canterbury actually reported that the trend for open-plan offices can actually cause employees more stress in the workplace and makes us more miserable! A similar study by IPSO also supported these findings. With distractions, noise pollution, invasion of space as well as increased risks of illness from sharing office space with so many, what can be done?

We are a boutique consultancy with just over 50 employees and the number one thing that we all love and all comment on is the family feel at Pro and that our colleagues are also our friends. Yet even with so much love for our colleagues with an expanding team and decreasing space in the office, we can really identify with these findings at times. We purchased a few colourful bean bags and made an office breakout area. This is an official do not disturb area where we can have lunch in private or just get away from our desks and have some quiet time to de-stress. The use of earphones so employees can switch off from the noise and make others aware that they are concentrating on something so should not be interrupted can also really help.

According to Heeral, ergonomic assessments are key and can reduce absenteeism.  Small changes to a desk set up, posture and the position of office equipment will make a big difference to the health of joints and muscles as well as psychical and mental wellbeing.

At Pro, we have completely changed our culture over the last few years based on employee feedback. Our directors insist on a monthly employee forum which managers or directors are not present. This is an opportunity for our employees to feedback to management. Some of the things we have introduced as a direct result of our employee forum include:

- Flexible working hours 

- Casual dress/dress for your diary

- Health insurance

- The introduction of Wellbeing self-assessment and questions in our review and appraisal system

- Return to work interviews

Little things can make a big difference.

To listen to the full webinar hosted by Heeral Gudka, a leading life coach click here. As always I welcome your thoughts, opinions and ideas on your own experience of workplace wellbeing

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