Improving workplace wellbeing is no longer an optional extra for employers.
A positive work environment can help boost employees’ physical and mental health. It affects your bottom line too.
Studies reveal that workplaces where employees feel nurtured and fulfilled have lower rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, along with increased levels of productivity.
Once you understand the dynamic relationship between workplace and worker, you can create wellbeing policies and programs which make a genuine difference – to motivation, performance and profit.
How the workplace can affect employees
The workplace can affect employees in various ways.
For example, Australian government employee census data shows a clear relationship between workplace injuries and job satisfaction. According to the census, employees who had experienced workplace injury showed lower levels of job satisfaction than their uninjured colleagues.
In addition, workers who reported higher levels of control and autonomy over their roles also claimed to be happier in the workplace, while employees who said they had been bullied reported more health problems at work.
The impact of poor workplace wellbeing on productivity
When employees are unwell or unhappy at work, it can affect workplace productivity in various ways:
- Unscheduled absenteeism – such as sick leave, stress leave and workers’ compensation claims.
- Presenteeism – this is where people continue to come to work while unwell. Employees in this category tend to be less engaged and productive than usual, as well as more prone to making mistakes and being injured.
- Turnover – a high turnover rate can be very costly for employers, in terms of the time and money involved in finding and training suitable replacements.
4 ideas for improving workplace wellbeing
There are a number of ways organisations can improve workplace wellbeing, including:
1. A ‘greened’ office
Plants in the office in the form of planter boxes, indoor gardens or internal green walls help improve air quality indoors by reducing carbon dioxide and absorbing airborne contaminants. There is also growing evidence that greenery in an office can boost creativity and increase productivity as much as 15% by improving staff happiness and feelings of wellbeing.
2. Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about a company’s social responsibility to itself as well as its employees, customers, shareholders and the public. Working for a company that cares more than about itself can help employees feel more connected to it and to the world outside.
There are many ways a business can practice CSR. For example – community service, donations and philanthropy, purchasing ethically-sourced goods, reducing the workplace carbon footprint, supporting environmental causes and more.
3. Health and wellbeing programs
Many companies in Australia and around the world are introducing wellbeing programs inside their workplaces. These includes onsite gyms, fitness classes, games, nutrition programs, subsidised canteens with healthy options, tracking apps, free counselling, and the offer of meditation breaks during the day.
Examples of this in action:
- NAB Australia – NAB’s wellbeing program includes free flu vaccinations and coaching services around mental and physical health for its employees.
- Johnson & Johnson – this company has been committed to staff health for decades. Its “Live for Life” wellness program comes with fitness facilities, swimming pool, nutrition and stress-management education and more. The company claims that workers completing its fitness course were more likely to stay over a six-year period and to gain promotion.
- Bupa – Bupa runs a workplace wellbeing program called “Smile”. This comes with a resource called “The Little Book of Energy” which provides ideas and tips for physical activity, downtime, sleep, diet and social life. In some regions, Bupa offers staff a mobile app for setting and tracking personal goals around wellbeing, which also helps the company (anonymously) identify staff health concerns.
4. Greater workplace flexibility
You can help improve work-life balance for employees through flexible hours, job-sharing, self-rostering, remote work and on-site day care – where these are appropriate of course. Greater work flexibility can help employees to feel a greater sense of autonomy and control over their work life and in turn improve their wellbeing.
Improving wellbeing in the workplace can benefit everybody. Employees are likely to be happier, healthier and more engaged, and the company’s bottom line benefits from higher productivity and lower absenteeism and turnover. A win-win all round!
To find out more on how you can create a staff wellbeing program in your workplace, feel free to get in touch with us for a discussion.