A look at the some of the more innovative strategies out there for maximising productivity and employee wellness
Employee wellbeing factors
Reading all the blogs and HR site articles on workplace wellbeing or employee engagement, and pretty soon you’ll see some patterns and themes emerge. The first of these is that what look simply like generous perks can also have a positive effect on productivity and the bottom line.
An example of this is private health cover. It’s a staff benefit that is highly valued by the workforce. This in turn makes it a powerful tool in the process of attracting the best staff to work for the organisation. And it simultaneously works as a retention tool too. Both of these, combined with helping minimise sickness absence, can give companies the edge in terms of productivity and therefore profitability.
This is a specific example of workplace wellbeing in practical terms. But the phrase wellbeing isn’t solely restricted to not getting sick (although that’s an important element of it). According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
Wellbeing represents a broader bio-psycho-social construct that includes physical, mental and social health. Well employees are physically and mentally able, willing to contribute in the workplace and likely to be more engaged at work.
And that’s the second topic of much conversation within HR and workplace wellbeing circles. So how do we go about ensuring that staff are best placed to carry out their jobs effectively and in as stress-free an environment as possible?
As is often the way, cutting edge companies on the West Coast of the U.S. have been at the forefront of developing new ways of working. While the Googleplex is famed for any number of employee benefits (massages, concierges, and gourmet food, to name just a few) the search giant is also famous for applying data to find out ways of improving the workplace.
Google’s pioneering Project Oxygen is a case in point. The program’s objective was to identify the most important characteristics that employees feel are important in what makes a good manager. But its results were surprising in that things like technical ability – while still important for managers – didn’t show up as being among the most important factors. Rather, things like clear vision, helping employees with career development and having a results-orientated attitude were higher up the valued list.
So, while in the past HR and workplace wellbeing have traditionally been centred on instinct and experience as regards ‘what works’ rather than science, we may now potentially see a more data driven and analytical approach to managing people and employee engagement.
Creativity and workplace wellbeing
Not all companies have the resource available to make a massive push into revolutionising the workplace, dissolving stress and providing lavish benefits. And right now very few companies have the number-crunching capabilities to use data for ‘people analytics’.
But we can all at least strive to be as creative as possible in maximising workplace wellbeing, even if we don’t have access to the biggest and best resources. One important way to engage the workforce is to involve people at every level within the organisation when it comes to making decisions about matters that affect their day to day working. This offers you the opportunity to hold brainstorm sessions to get the staff thinking about where things could be improved. A large part of creativity is problem solving.
The list of means that various workplaces employ in order to up the workplace’s ‘happiness quotient’ is fairly extensive, including:
- Workplace pets. According to a stress expert and consultant clinical psychotherapist quoted in the Guardian on the topic of pets at work, it’s something that can help employees feel calmer, and may even lower blood pressure. She even goes on to say that the effect of pets in the workplace may contribute to increased staff morale and lower sickness absence.
- Plants. It may seem surprising, but adding some greenery to the office can have a positive effect on health – with studies indicating that some plant presence can actually improve productivity and concentration.
- Meditation and relaxation techniques. Some workplaces offer training in desktop yoga, mindfulness meditating, and so on. By focussing on stress dissolving strategies, organisations can demonstrate a commitment not only to lowering stress but also to promoting mentally healthy work environment too.
Workplace wellbeing is of course not simply a set of rules or a rigid strategy – it’s something that’s constantly evolving, allowing job §1n and the broader working environment greater potential for space where people can express themselves more, work smarter, and – hopefully – enjoy the working day while achieving better results.
This article is by Jen Jones, who writes on stress management and workplace wellbeing, on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare business cover providers.
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