How to get bang for your wellbeing buck


Times are tough financially right now, however data shows that spending on wellbeing is an investment, not an extravagance...

Words by Kieran Howells | Design by Matt Bonnar

For those erring on the side of frugality there is, of course, a legal obligation to wellbeing in the workplace. As Donna Seferta, Senior Associate Solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, tells HR Grapevine: “Employers have a wide range of obligations to protect their employees’ mental health within the workplace which of course, includes their wellbeing. The primary obligation is to protect employees’ health and safety. Employers have a duty of care for their employees’ health, safety and welfare at work. This includes assessing the requirement for, and carrying out, risk assessments for not only employees’ physical health but also their mental health.”

For those erring on the side of frugality there is, of course, a legal obligation to wellbeing in the workplace. As Donna Seferta, Senior Associate Solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, tells HR Grapevine: “Employers have a wide range of obligations to protect their employees’ mental health within the workplace which of course, includes their wellbeing. The primary obligation is to protect employees’ health and safety. Employers have a duty of care for their employees’ health, safety and welfare at work. This includes assessing the requirement for, and carrying out, risk assessments for not only employees’ physical health but also their mental health.”

The power of recognition

Yet despite legal responsibility, curating a wellbeing programme doesn’t mean massive financial investment. Recognition and feedback are commonly seen as key proponents of successful wellbeing and this is evidenced by research from Salesforce, which found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Cara De Lange, burnout expert and Author of book on the subject titled ‘Softer Success’ noted that the best place to start when endeavouring to make employee voices heard is with regular surveys on wellness.

“The best way to combat wellbeing on a budget is to start by asking the employees what they need via an anonymous survey,” she says. This, according to De Lange, can help not only combat poor mental health, but actively stem it from forming. “There is a lot of reactive support out there, where businesses are providing support when people become ill; but it is also very important to prevent poor mental health & wellbeing in the first place. In the long run this will work out to be more budget friendly as it will be less likely for employees to be off on long term sick leave and there can be reduced presenteeism.”

“This is something that Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing, Fujitsu, believes in strongly, telling HR Grapevine that regular, quality time spent listening to employees themselves about their needs is essential. “Regular engagement with employees and management is the first thing HR teams should be doing,” she says. “Both through HR driven initiatives and by ensuring Managers focus on regular and quality check-ins with their people. Awareness activities, such as Mental Health Awareness Week, are great opportunities to check in with staff and share useful resources and content – which are readily available online – to encourage conversations on the importance of mental and physical health.”

We happened to have created an app that our employees could log into to keep connected just before the pandemic started. Whilst it was admittedly a costly initial expense, the return on investment has been huge

 

Cost-effective third-party solutions

Whilst we’ve established that the core of wellbeing can be effective when implemented in-house, there are also a range of wellbeing solutions that add value to your proposition without breaking the bank. For example, One Medical conducted research that found 69% of employees would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits such as childcare or a cycle to work scheme. Both options offer massive benefit to workers’ work-life balance and health (both mental and physical), yet offer return on investment in the long run. Willis Towers Watson found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer because of their employee benefits package.”

“While things like workplace massages may seem like a novelty, they are an important part of showing employees that they are valued,” agrees Metcalf. “[At Fujitsu] we are tailoring our approach to these at the moment by offering virtual physical wellbeing sessions, focusing people on effective stretches they can do at their desk to help people manage the musculoskeletal impact of sustained home working.”

 

The best way to combat wellbeing on a budget is to start by asking the employees what they need.

Don’t forget the groundwork

If you’re starting to come around to the idea of making financial investment in wellbeing, there is one golden rule that will define your success. Whilst the advice of Fujitsu’s Kelly Metcalf is very much valid, you need to spend on groundwork before you can build to more extravagant perks. Charlie Goodwin, HR Officer at Kingsland Drinks, notes that for her company, building the groundwork meant putting together an app exclusively for her employees – an investment that was thrown into an extreme testing phase very quickly due to the pandemic.

“We happened to have created an app that our employees could log into to keep connected just before the pandemic started. Whilst it was admittedly a costly initial expense, the return on investment has been huge. Through this app, we can now share valuable company updates with our entire staff, messages from the CEO, and important information on benefits such as counselling, 24-hour helplines and financial advice, but I also share positive social posts to help people stay happy and healthy through lockdown such as home DIY how-to video, comedy videos, funny messages etc.

“The app has done so much to keep the company connected. We recently asked people if they’ve benefitted from its implementation and received lots of emails saying that the ways we’ve dealt with wellbeing in the pandemic has been fantastic,” she concludes.


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