Prioritising employee well-being might once have been seen as an “optional but nice perk” – but not anymore. In today’s work climate, it is absolutely mandatory to focus on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of your employees.
Why is this important? A happy, fulfilled team will be productive and genuinely happy to work for your company. However, unhappy, unwell employees are susceptible to absenteeism, low productivity rates and even quitting. Focusing on well-being will benefit the health of both your employees and your company.
No employee wants to work in an office that looks like a prison. Making just a few small changes to move away from the standard “cubicle farm” layout can help employees feel happier in their day-to-day work.
Elements to focus on include:
When reorganising your office space, another factor to consider is that not every employee works best sitting at a desk all day. In fact, most don’t. Standing up and walking around improves physical health and keeps the brain working and the ideas flowing.
Offer various options to allow employees to be more active and avoid becoming “desk zombies”. Replace some desks with standing or treadmill alternative. Hold “walking meetings” instead of staying confined in conference rooms. Don’t forget to include private spaces for employees to take calls and avoid distractions if needed.
Until recently, conversations about employee well-being focused solely on the physical aspect. However, mental health is just as, if not more, important. Depressed, over-stressed, exhausted employees are neither happy nor productive.
Employees may be uncomfortable with “starting the discussion” about their mental health concerns themselves – so have your company take the step of beginning it for them. Hire a workplace counsellor who can serve as a safe space to discuss mental concerns. Include mental care in employee health insurance coverage. Encourage employees to regularly fill out evaluations and goal sheets where they can honestly communicate regarding their current mental state.
Arguably, the ultimate goal of focusing on employee well-being is to combat burnout. Burnout occurs when employees are stressed, exhausted, and even begin to hate their jobs. A burned out employee is typically a miserable one.
Instead of waiting for employees to come to you complaining of burnout, be productive. Provide employees with opportunities to take breaks throughout the day. Some fun suggestions include a company-wide yoga class, dance party, or even simply a walk outside on a sunny day.
Don’t neglect the need for longer-term vacations either. Re-evaluate your company’s leave policy and ask yourself if you are giving employees enough time away from the office during the year. Take special care to implement a robust sick leave policy, as a single sick employee who feels forced to come in can infect the whole office and leave everyone feeling downright awful.
The workplace is becoming ever more automated – but your employees are still people, not robots. Focus on their needs, and make their well-being your priority. Healthy, fulfilled employees are the key ingredient for long-term success!
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.