The Bottom Line Impact of Wellbeing in the Workplace

Work practices, culture, well-being programs and relationships within workplaces are key determinants, not only of whether people feel valued and supported in their work roles, but also of individual health.
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Work practices, culture, well-being programs and relationships within workplaces are key determinants, not only of whether people feel valued and supported in their work roles, but also of individual health, well-being, productivity and most importantly to the bottom line of any companies profits.

Well-designed and well-managed workplaces can play a beneficial role in promoting worker health and wellbeing, minimizing avoidable ill health, absenteeism and facilitating faster recovery and return to work after injury or illness.

I guess if you look at well-being at its simplest level it is ultimately about personal happiness - feeling good and working safely and healthily.

So why is it important?

According to the Corporate Leadership Council, replacing employees who leave can cost up to 150 percent of the departing employee's salary when you consider recruitment, hiring and training costs.

On the flip side organizations that have a highly engaged workforce have the potential of reducing staff turnover by 87 percent. Imagine what that can do not only to the bottom line but also to the productivity, culture and overall performance of the business?

According to the 2013 Gallop report, lack of employee engagement has been directly linked to increased absenteeism, presenteeism and lower levels of performance and overall productivity.

At this year's World Economic Forum, well-being became a macro issue, being put on the agenda for large multinational CEOs and governments all over the world.

So if you haven't taken it seriously up until this point, maybe now is the right time to really start thinking about your wellness program and how you can implement a system that is not only going to increase productivity and your bottom line but the overall happiness, well-being and health of the biggest assets within your business: staff.

To gain further insight into this topic I recently spoke with Georgie Drury, a tech entrepreneur and founder of Springday. In 2009, Georgie built a engagement wellbeing Platform with a holistic approach on the five pillars of wellbeing:

1) Physical
2) Emotional
3) Social
4) Financial
5) Career

After huge success helping consumers, demand from corporations grew and Springday's white-labelled, cloud-based technology is now being deployed at many organisations across the globe - helping employees become 'well-thy'.

"From my experience the organizations, which employees want to work for, are the ones where the CEO takes wellbeing seriously and leads by example by participating in corporate citizenship, e.g. volunteering, practicing mindfulness, committing to exercise goals, etc."

These are traits employees all want to aspire to. In fact, according to the HAPIA Best Practise Guidelines, 96% of "Best Practice" Australian organizations have implemented health and wellbeing initiatives.

Innovative and market leading organizations are also moving from the narrow and reactionary approach of health to a preventative approach to wellbeing.

This takes into account, the emotional, social, financial and career aspects of well-being, as well as the traditional physical approach.

In speaking with hundreds of companies over the past few years we've noticed the emphasis on HR is switching, before spending money on learning and development, talent management and retention of staff, companies are now investing in the health and wellbeing of their staff as a more important HR function," Georgie explains.

As with most relationships, the employer's relationship with the employee relies on a sense of mutual respect and trust to be successful. Demonstrating to employees that your care about their well-being is a key way for you to show staff that they are valued.

Now I think it's important to note that corporate wellness cannot be treated as a band-aid, and you definitely won't be able to find it in a fitness app.

Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are the keys to a successful program. If employees are not involved in the solution, it's difficult to succeed. Preventable wellness is a complete lifestyle and behavior change, and change takes time and commitment.

And it's easier to implement than you may think.

Whether you already have a plan in place or been inspired by this article to design one, below Georgie shares five easy steps any company can take in order to build a well-designed wellness program which not only increases employee engagement but builds the overall culture of the organization.

1) Strategic Direction: Link your wellbeing program to the strategic direction of your business including close alignment to company values. For example, if your CEO is asking your organisation to volunteer, ensure you highlight the link between social and emotional wellbeing.

2) Return on Investment: Put the business case together and articulate the objectives for well-being and how your success will be measured - find out what your absenteeism and or presenteeism rate is, know the cost of workers' compensation, what your EAP uptake is and company engagement scores so that you can properly assess your return on investment when implementing a well being program,.

3) Buy In: Get senior management to buy in, especially the CEO if possible, as he or she should have their own wellbeing goals and be happy to publicize it to showcase leading by example.

4) Get some quick wins: Provide initiatives that will help your staff to 'level up' quickly, start with a movement/pedometer challenge, health checks, volunteering days, or participate in global/national awareness initiatives e.g. RUOK Day and or Movember.

5) Have fun! Health doesn't have to be boring, ensure the message is trendy, on point, relevant and inspiring behavior change. Communicate, market and brand your program. Help employees recognize that wellbeing is not lip service but something that is sustainable and ongoing.

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