With ‘burn out’ officially being recognised as a chronic condition by the World Health Organisation, employee wellbeing is becoming even more of a focus for companies of all sizes, across all sectors.
With such a heavy reliance on tools like Slack, and the ability to access our work emails and files at any time of the day or night, we’re living in an ‘always-on’ culture. Where the boundary between work and home life is becoming increasingly blurred.
It’s, therefore, no wonder that 87% of Brits have reported struggling to switch off from work, with many feeling pressure to respond to work emails outside of working hours, exacerbating triggers of stress and burnout.
The impact of poor employee health
Reports like The Government’s Thrive At Work report have highlighted the cost that poor physical and mental employee health can have on businesses, impacting both productivity and absenteeism rates. We now have evidence to show that happy, healthy employees are less likely to take time off sick and in turn, are more engaged when they work. Given this, it makes sense that a perks program should centre around encouraging employee wellness, both at work and outside of it.
How you can improve employee wellness
Email / slack quiet periods
Whether it’s email-free Fridays or a company-wide Slack ban during lunch hours. Digital quiet periods will give your team space to focus on tasks that require deep work and help to minimize feelings of overwhelm.
Flexible working hours
Evidence shows that flexible working benefits everyone. Implementing some level of flexible working, whether an ‘early start, early finish’ policy or even a four day work week, will have a fundamental impact on overall satisfaction, stress levels, and wellbeing of your team, whilst also improving productivity.
More businesses are building meditation into their employee wellness packages. It was Steve Jobs who likely put the meditation-room-at-work trend on the map. At Apple, Jobs introduced 30-minute daily meditation breaks at the company, and had meditation rooms built throughout their offices worldwide in the company’s infancy.
The positive impacts of meditation and mindfulness is well documented. One study from the Wellness Institute found that “mindfulness-based techniques, including meditation, can lower stress levels in a demanding work environment and lead to happier, more engaged employees.” It’s no wonder that companies like Salesforce, Apple, Google, and Nike are embracing the trend.
Offer financial support
With the effects of COVID-19 health risks, social isolation, uncertainty and the rising costs of working from home for extended periods of time, it has certainly put a heavy strain on the wellbeing and financial stress of millions of workers across the UK & Ireland. Perhaps now is the time to open up about this topic and offer support however you can. Companies like WageStream and Salary Finance are promoting just that. These money management apps can help your employees to better manage their finances to relieve stress and anxiety.
Practice what you preach
Workaholism isn’t a badge of honour – so ensure that senior staff aren’t seen to be putting in all hours under the sun, and looking down on those who don’t.
Many of us see rest as being a passive activity such as sitting on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of your favourite Netflix series. That’s not the kind of ‘rest’ we’re alluding to here. As Silicon Valley consultant and author, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, explains: “Rest is not this optional leftover activity. Work and rest are actually partners. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.
It seems self-evident that more work equals more output. This is true of machines, so why shouldn’t it be true of us? Well it’s not. We have adopted industrial-age attitudes, and they don’t really work for us.”
Give your employees space in their workday to exercise and learn to spot when they need a break. And if you want more insight on this topic, read his book.
We know that what we eat can impact how we feel physically, but evidence shows that there is a connection between what we eat and our mental health, with recent studies suggesting that our gut health can impact feelings of stress and anxiety. With many of us eating 2 meals a day during work hours, employers can play an important role in encouraging their workers to eat well and in turn, improve their physical and mental health.
Educating your team on healthy eating and workplace wellness may seem a little rudimentary, but for a lot of individuals nutritional best-practice just simply isn’t front of mind, or for some may be unclear. Oftentimes people just need a nudge in the right direction, or to be inspired into action.
You could give your employees a helping hand by launching a personalised food program. This type of nutrition perk enables you to offer free or discounted lunches to employees, either paid for in full by the company or partially funded, giving employees access to discounted meals. What’s more, by making the program flexible with a variety of different food vendors, you can offer lots of choice, so employees can eat exactly how they want, regardless of their dietary requirements, taste preferences, and location.