What is employee wellbeing and what can employers do to ensure a healthy working environment?
Over recent decades, many employers have acknowledged the importance of employee wellbeing as the central aspect of any company. In addition, the Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted more than ever the importance of employee’s physical and mental health. The well-being of employees is not only important for the individuals, but for the company as a whole. Cultivating a happy and healthy workforce is proven to increase motivation and enhance the quality of work produced. Most importantly, the well-being of individuals increases the overall quality of the workplace environment, creating a better experience for all members of staff. Many businesses are recognising the importance of employee wellbeing and are therefore investing in their employees for the benefit of the workplace as a whole.
What is employee wellbeing?
Employee wellbeing can be hard to define, as it covers all aspects of an individuals experience in the workplace. Well-being encompasses both the physical and mental health of an individual. As a company employee, this covers not only their experience in the workplace but at home too. With many employees working from home as a result of the pandemic, the line between the office and the home can become blurred. This is why it is more important than ever that employers are taking into consideration the impact of work on their employees both in the office and at home.
The physical health of an employee can often be affected by the amount of time they spend at a desk; this can impact an individual’s fitness and cause strain on the body. Low-quality chairs can cause long term back injuries and staring at a computer without breaks can cause eye strain. These are all elements which an employer must take responsibility for in order to improve the employee’s experience and health.
The mental health of the employee should also be at the forefront of an employer’s mind. Stress and anxiety over work can be harmful to individuals, especially if they feel unable to communicate it to their superiors. Cultivating a work environment where employers listen to the needs of individuals is vital to the wellbeing of the workforce.
How can employee wellbeing benefit a business?
The average employee works approximately 37 hours per week, meaning that an employee’s workplace is central to their quality of life. This means that it is a business’s responsibility to create an environment that encourages a happy, healthy lifestyle for its workforce.
Many individuals are forced to leave their jobs over mental health concerns if they feel their needs are not being met. Supporting mental wellbeing is therefore imperative to a highly functioning workplace. An employee who feels valued within a company will have higher motivation and productivity and will produce a higher quality of work which they care about. With wellbeing being directly linked to performance, it is no surprise that many employers are investing time and money into creating the best possible working environment.
How can employee wellbeing be improved?
Improving physical wellbeing of your workforce can be ensured through investing in your employees. In an office environment, simple changes like high quality chairs can reduce physical problems later down the line, as well as frequent breaks to reduce chances of eye strain. Fitness initiatives at lunch time such as sports teams or yoga classes are a great way to improve physical wellbeing, as well as practicing teamwork skills which are beneficial to the company’s productive output. While these all can seem like extra expenses, their effect on your employees and the workplace environment will be unmeasurable.
Ensuring good mental health can be more challenging than physical health, as the mental health of employees is not always as visually apparent. Cultivating an environment where employees feel comfortable communicating their mental health to their employer is vital. An employee should feel that they are able to talk to their employer if they feel overwhelmed by their workload, or anxious about work. Many companies invest in onsite therapy or counselling which encourages communication, as well as proving to your employee that you value their emotional needs.