As a human resources professional, you are often required to balance the needs of employees and their welfare against the goals and objectives of an organisation. In our article 5 Top Tips to Balance Employees’ Welfare With Company Goals we share the best advice from HR insiders on how to walk this fine line.
When we asked business leaders and HR managers how they navigate this balance, we got so many awesome tips about how to promote employees’ wellbeing that we decided to dedicate an entire article to it. Read on for the top 4 recommendations on the things that any organisation can do to keep their employees happy and motivated.
1. Reach out to employees proactively
Many managers recommend that you talk to your employees about what they need, and that you do so on a regular basis.
Adam P. Gordon, Co-Founder of PTO Genius is an advocate for proactive communication. Not only does it help you connect with your employees more regularly, but it will help you identify areas of concern before they become problems.
“If you don’t know an issue exists, there is no way to fix it,” says Gordon. “Build in a regular calendar of outreach to your team. This could include having them fill out a survey about balance-related factors such as hours worked, scheduling, support for working parents. By soliciting feedback, you can manage the areas of needed improvement and enact solutions before they fester for too long.”
A study cited in the book Cracking Health Costs shows a clear relationship between low wellbeing and higher hospitalisation and emergency room admission. For each one-point positive difference in wellbeing, employees were 2.2% less likely to have an admission, 1.7% less likely to have an ER visit, and had a 1% lower likelihood of incurring any healthcare cost. For those employees who incur healthcare costs, each one-point positive difference in wellbeing was associated with a 1% lower cost.
Therefore, Cal Martin - who has counselled hundreds of top executives at Fortune 500 companies on customer satisfaction, employee engagement and wellbeing, is right when he says - “it is absolutely worth proactively investing in employee wellbeing rather than trying to manage the expenses reactively. Healthier employees means a healthier bottom line.”
2. Support your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing
“Healthy employees make for a healthy business” - this too is the philosophy of Todd Ramlin, Manager of Cable Compare. Ramlin believes that “The healthier an employee is the more productive they can be so insurance and wellness programs are great tools for meeting business goals while looking out for the welfare of your people.”
Emily Connery, Head of People and Talent at ChartHop speaks about the growing awareness of the importance of supporting mental health at the workplace. “We need to support our employees holistically because we care about them and because happy, supported, and rested people perform better,” Connery says. “Due to this overdue realisation, mental health and the proverbial couch are shedding their stigma and getting the spotlight. This means investing in new well-being benefits like meditation apps and counseling services. It also means allowing your business to pause for things like mental health days or even weeks.”
In the UK, 15-30% of workers are expected to experience some form of mental health problem during their working lives. The financial impact of poor mental wellbeing on UK companies is staggering - Deloitte estimates that poor mental health costs UK employers £42 bn to £45 bn each year. To help mitigate the mental health costs to your business, see our article How Does Mental Health Influence Work Performance? for more tips to support mental health at your workplace.
3. Give employees as much agency as possible
When employees understand the business goals and feel engaged in terms of how they are contributing to their team and organisation’s success, they are more likely to feel motivated and be productive.
On the other hand, as Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group, observes - “one of the biggest engagement killers is when employees feel undervalued or taken advantage of.” Erhard gives an example of what he means, “If you have a large project that needs overtime, ask for volunteers rather than assigning these extra shifts - it can make a big difference in how employees feel about putting in that extra time.”
Robert Half, in their employee happiness report, identifies a sense of empowerment as one of six key factors that contributes to employees’ happiness at work. Their research shows that employees who feel free at work are 2.7 times more likely to be happy than those who don’t. Robert Half notes that giving your staff as much agency as possible can improve employee happiness in several ways:
- Team members build confidence when they realise they can make the right decisions.
- Employees have more say in the development of key skills which they can use to advance their careers and make greater contributions to the company.
- Empowered staff feel more comfortable questioning the status quo, thus helping to create an organisational culture that is more open to new ideas.
4. Treat employees as individuals and with fairness
Treating each person as an individual may sound obvious because each of us has unique needs and talents. However, in the bid to apply common company-wide policies, managers may sometimes lose sight of the fact that people are likely to be working under different individual circumstances.
Ralph Severson, business owner of Flooring Masters, reckons that “It is our responsibility to have an understanding of each employee. They must be treated as the individuals that they are. While one employee may love working 60 hours per week, another will burn out after a few weeks of this. If an employee does a great job, but is not at all interested in the conference you wanted to take them to, don’t push them into it. We have to let people be who they are, but within reason. It's still a business.”
Jake Penney, Head of HR at English Blinds, reminds employers that while they need to “recognise that different individuals have different welfare needs,” they should also ensure they are “consistent and fair in their application of support.” Robert Half’s research shows that fairness and respect are together the second major drivers of employee happiness.
In conclusion then, there are several ways to improve employee wellbeing. You can reach out to employees regularly, and take practical measures to support their physical and mental wellbeing. Be cautious of the way you treat each individual employee. Unfair treatment - whether real or perceived - can turn a happy and motivated employee into one who is disengaged and sceptical of the company. And remember that empowered employees are likely to be happier employees.
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About the author
Carol Pang is a Digital Content Editor for findcourses.co.uk. Prior to this, she has 12 years of experience in the corporate and financial sectors.
She believes that people are fundamental to an organisation’s success, and that effective training can create a motivated and engaged workforce.