June 15, 2020
Responsibility for employee wellbeing often sits with HR, but the day is already full. Instead of being built into organisational structure, it’s an add-on to an already long ‘to do’ list. It often accounts for just 1 to 5 per cent of overall hours and is squeezed in outside of the working day.
Wellbeing intervention events are often poorly attended and ineffective. Ironically, the wellbeing of those tasked with taking care of everyone else also often suffers. Does any of this sound familiar?
Now is the time to restructure for wellbeing and never has it been more important. The global coronavirus pandemic has directly or indirectly affected almost every business. The Institute of Employment Studies carried out a survey to assess home worker wellbeing. The results are a cause for concern, with 64 per cent reporting lost sleep from worry about the crisis and work, 58 per cent complaining of aches and pains in their necks, and 56 per cent aches and pains in their shoulders.
Restructuring to include workplace wellbeing is not as difficult as you might think. The first step is to answer some key questions and assess your current set-up for team and organisational wellbeing:
- Who is responsible for wellbeing? Is it clear, or does it sit across different teams/departments? Do you have a dedicated, trained wellbeing team within the organisation?
- When is time allocated for employee wellbeing? Is time structured into the working week or is it ad hoc and out of working hours?
- What processes/systems are used for employee wellbeing? Are regular meetings and agendas in place? Do you have a wellbeing calendar?
- How is your employee wellbeing funded? Where does the budget really lie?
Employee wellbeing while working remotely
Workplace wellbeing needs to be viewed through a different lens. Now is the time to create a wellbeing structure that provides time and space for effective employee wellbeing. Some may enjoy the peace of working from home; for others, the environment is challenging, lonely and stressful.
Appoint a wellbeing team if you don’t already have one to ensure everyone has a point of contact with a person they trust. Ask the questions formally and informally to find out how people are really doing. Set times for virtual ‘water-cooler hangouts’ where people can check in with colleagues with no agenda. Guide people towards the ever-increasing number of free apps that support health. Make access to wellbeing resources readily available.
The wellbeing manager (or similar) role is becoming increasingly common – not just for large organisations. Yes, global companies may be more likely to have someone in place, but there are companies with fewer than 100 employees who have a wellbeing manager, whose sole job is to take care of employee wellbeing 100 per cent of the time.
Once your wellbeing team establishes the specific needs of your employees, wellbeing can be woven into the fabric of everything you do. Employees will feel happier, healthier and more valued within a supportive environment.
You will see evidence of improvements at every level:
- Individual – time to breathe and engage with wellbeing that works
- Team – coherence, communication and camaraderie
- Organisation – wellbeing boosts performance of the organisation as a whole
Setting a structure and dedicating time for wellbeing means it is no longer just squeezed in by HR professionals, which squeezes them and puts them under pressure.
When employee wellbeing gets the time it deserves, the result is a healthier, wealthier and more connected workplace where everyone involved feels well and works well.