Why it’s time to shine a spotlight on employee wellbeing

Chris Andrew
By Chris Andrew

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you! Ready to smile? Next week - Monday September 20 – Friday September 26 - is International Week of Happiness At Work. Back in 2019, researchers at Oxford University found compelling proof that happy workers are more productive. 13% more productive. That statistic is reinforced by findings from the field of positive psychology, which show that emotional wellbeing improves our ability to think laterally, to process complex information quickly and to expand our span of attention

In other words, the agility and efficiency of your business can be improved by making your employees happier. How do you do that? Read on! 

A happier workplace

There are plenty of simple, practical tactics that can contribute to workplace happiness. Easy wins include encouraging employees to take regular breaks to maintain their energy levels, or optimising the office lighting

There are also policy-led initiatives that improve wellbeing. Employee Assistance Programmes. Flexible working. Career progression support. As our Strategy Director Chris Andrew argues in an earlier article, these are critical proof points that demonstrate genuine commitment to wellbeing. 

But as valuable as all these offerings are, embedded workplace wellbeing requires a deeper approach. One that starts with a clear wellbeing purpose and is driven forward by a thoughtful, responsive, and evolving wellbeing strategy, supported by authentic action and impactful comms...

Your wellbeing purpose

Your company purpose encapsulates your driving goal as an organisation – the reason why you exist. In the same way, your wellbeing purpose encapsulates your commitment to your people. As an example: 

  • Space and support to succeed
  • To give colleagues the most empowering workplace possible
  • Putting health and connection at the heart of the employee experience

Why is it important to create a wellbeing purpose? Because the process of developing this purpose helps you to understand, and to articulate, the core business attitude towards employee wellbeing in your workplace. It pinpoints the real mindset from which your current wellbeing approach grows. 

Why does that matter? Because it allows you to: 

  • Understand any disconnect between wellbeing messaging and actual workplace policies.
  • Question whether your current attitude towards employee wellbeing best serves your long-term business needs.
  • Create a wellbeing purpose that reflects your aspirations for future employee wellbeing.
  • Develop a wellbeing strategy that drives your aspirational purpose forward.

Growing employee wellbeing

Once you have your purpose, you can build a coherent employee wellbeing strategy, structuring your policies and actions in alignment with business needs and employee needs. 

This is a key point. Whatever the detail of your wellbeing strategy, to be successful it must be implemented in partnership with employees. In other words, it has to take account of your employees’ wants and needs, and to have the flexibility for those wants and needs to continue to evolve. 

Authentic two-way, workplace communication supports you to achieve that. By...

  • Asking employees what boosts their wellbeing.
  • Considering what the business can do.
  • Sharing what will be done.
  • Acknowledging what can’t be done.

...you help to build a culture of trust and respect that is the foundation for engagement and workplace happiness. The truth is that good internal communication has a profound impact on employee wellbeing, as this research shows. 

So, as International Happiness Week approaches, here’s another research finding to consider. When employees were asked which factors had the biggest impact on their workplace wellbeing, the usual suspects took the top 5 slots: salary and bonuses, job security, interesting and engaging work. 

But also in the top five slots came communication issues. Employees say they value having clarity about what’s expected of them, and a healthy company culture with values aligned to their own. When it comes to happiness, what you do, and what you say, both matter. 

Chris Andrew
By Chris Andrew