Workplace Health & Wellbeing – It’s not the size that matters but the approach

Workplace wellbeing for small businesses – do not miss this opportunity.

Are you a small business owner on a high growth trajectory who wants to eke more out of your key asset – your employees?  Do you want to nurture a thriving work environment where everyone feels and gives their best?  Do you want an organisation where everyone is proud to work for you, they feel emotionally engaged and are generally happy and comfortable in their environment?

Every organisation, whatever its size, has wide-ranging duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect the “health, safety and welfare” at work of all their employees on their premises.

Whilst not clearly defined in the legislation, which was written nearly four decades ago, stress and well-being is a fundamental part of this duty.  Indeed, it affects all aspects of working life, from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how employees feel about their work, their working environment, the culture, their experiences and work organisation. It is increasingly seen as an important factor in attraction, retention and engagement strategies.

The issue for small businesses is that they are the worst performing in terms of employee health outcomes. One-third of SME employees experiencing a mental health problem during their working life (CIPD, Employee Outlook, Focus on Mental Health, July 2016). With 96% of SMEs categorised as ‘micro-businesses’, i.e. employing less than 10 people, the ramifications of stress and well-being are magnified even further.

But this doesn’t have to be the case; there are small things you can do that can make a big impact. For instance, you have much more flexibility and agility to adopt a proactive approach to stress and well-being. Small businesses usually have a “family” community spirit and are much better placed to be in constant tune with their staff; a key advantage over larger companies.

Think of wellbeing as a form of tai chi which is designed to cultivate the qi or life energy of all employees to flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the organisation.  Total harmony of the inner and outer self by every single employees comes from the integration of mind and body, empowered by leaders and practised through a healthy work experience and conditions.

Key steps to managing this stress and wellbeing

There are five simple steps to manage stress and well-being proactively in SMEs, which involve very little resources, but which will deliver very positive outcomes.

1. Start with the end in sight
Firstly, you need to treat stress and well-being as a business imperative rather than a “nice to have”. You should, therefore, think carefully how you are going to create more value from your well-being investment in your people. As a small business owner, you should have quite a strong personal attachment to your people. Focus on instilling a proactive well-being culture, rather than reacting to events that lead to lost productivity and sickness absence. For example, employer sponsored physical activity programmes at work have been found to reduce absenteeism by up to 20% and physically active workers take 27% fewer sick days. (Health, Work and Well-being Programme (2008) Working for a healthier tomorrow. London: The Stationery Office).

2. Define your strategy
Scoping out your strategy is fundamental to the success of your well-being initiatives. Generally, you should focus on four key people ‘needs’ as outlined below:

• Emotional needs: Resilience, mindfulness, stress management and mental health
• Physical needs: Energy, health risks, awareness, nutrition, exercise, sleep
• Financial needs: Security, life planning, retirement, debt management, insurance protection
• Social needs: Belonging, inclusion, togetherness, community, trust, culture

You should then decide what’s within your gift to influence positive stress and well-being outcomes. You don’t need a big budget to make a significant difference. There are a wide range of options that you, as an employer, can offer at little-to-no cost.

Accordingly, you should focus on four key areas: Each of these areas are mutually exclusive, as explained below.

a. Prevention
All the evidence shows that “prevention is better than cure”. So, what positive steps can you take to help your people improve their behaviours and take more responsibility for their well-being? A good place to start is to look at yourself in the mirror and question if you are setting the right tone by your own well-being mind-set and behaviours. What steps can you take to be a role model and create a positive workplace where there is high awareness and engagement with stress and well-being initiatives? Supporting a healthy workforce means, for example, that you should refrain from working crazy hours, emailing employees on the weekend or constantly checking your work smartphone when on vacation. Managers that practice self-care show employees that they should be prioritising their well-being as well.

b. Support
Keeping on top of stress and well-being is a challenge for small businesses, but you must be sensitive to this. For example, are you expecting your people to constantly ‘jump through hoops’, with limited organisation, resources and direction? Do you understand what is driving/motivating them, and the stimulus they need to have a good work experience? What can you do to help them if personal concerns are affecting their ability to perform? Do you have good self-awareness and are attuned to your people’s inner needs and feelings? Remember though that employees will feel less inclined to reveal any health and well-being issues if it is perceived as taboo in the workplace and there is a lack of trust and openness by management. Privacy must always be respected, but where an employee is not performing to their best, then it is quite reasonable to hold a conversation with them.

c. Working environment
When you look at your working environment, it’s not just about the physical surroundings but the emotional, spiritual and social cohesion that it cultivates. Your people must feel safe and secure in their workplace as well as being able to experience a strong sense of belonging, purpose, ethos and culture. Exercising effective leadership, a “fun” culture and collaboration make for a good start.

d. Networking
As a small business owner, you do not have to go it alone. There are likely to be many other local business owners in the same boat who have a wish to share ideas and best practice. Social enterprises such as Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network – Chambers of Commerce and Trading Bodies help progressive businesses of all sizes to make the connection between well-being and prosperity of business and society.

3. Consult and engage with your people

Talking about stress and well-being is the most immediate step you can take, whether self-employed or a small business owner. Understanding your people’s attitudes towards well-being and how your workplace can shape enablers and interventions is vital. More importantly, your people must feel that they are part of the well-being journey and be able to influence its direction and outcomes. So, it is important to encourage ideas and suggestions about working practices, health initiatives etc to get your people on board from the outset. For example, making simple workplace adjustments, offering flexible working hours, recognising birthdays and work anniversaries and ensuring that your employees take a lunch break are all cost-effective, quick wins that start to sow the seed.

4. Seek external support and advice

The reality is that designing a stress and well-being initiative usually requires expertise and experience beyond the skill sets of those employed within a small business. Don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It makes good business sense for you to select dedicated experts to ensure your initiative succeeds.

There are many national charities or agencies such as Acas, Mind, Time to Change, Macmillan, Samaritans, Public Health England / Wales / Scotland etc, who are prepared to support small businesses, including the Forum of Private Businesses.

Also, the Government’s Fit for Work programme provide support on workplace health to GPs, employers and employees. The Fit for Work team understands the barriers smaller organisations face when it comes to addressing employee health.

5. Measure success

The long-term success of any health and well-being programme will ultimately come down to organisational culture, and the attitude, determination and conviction of those at the top. There is no “one size fits all”. It is about finding the solution that works for you and your team. You might not get it right first time, but rest assured, it will be worth it when you do.

There’s also another simple adage “that you can’t manage on what you can’t measure”. It doesn’t have to be rocket science – but even in the absence of any meaningful data – you will have a gut feeling if your investment is working or not.

About the Article

This article was written and adapted by The Wellbeing Leader as a contribution to the CIPD People Skills Hub, an essential new HR and people management resource for small businesses, accessible at https://peopleskillshub.cipd.co.uk/.

About the Author
Evan Davidge is an independent HR consultant specialising in total reward and wellbeing. He has over 20 years’ consultancy experience, delivering insights and solutions to many organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Evan is an Associate tutor, examiner and adviser to the CIPD where he holds Chartered status. He is also founder of The Wellbeing Leader.

E-Reward Financial Wellbeing Debut Showcase 2019

I’m delighted to be chairing and leading one of Europe’s biggest conferences dedicated exclusively to financial wellbeing. Responding to huge demand from comp & ben professionals, E-reward is pleased to announce its debut financial wellbeing conference in London on 3rd April 2019.

Recent joint research E-Reward and The Wellbeing Leader has shown that more than half of employers still do not provide financial wellbeing.  This is predominantly with SMEs who employ 15.7 million workers; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.  This small scale survey contrasts with more extensive work undertaken by a team of our top reward researchers who have been analysing the financial wellbeing sector in Europe and the United States. Drawing on this E-reward sponsored research, we have put together an unmissable one-day event that covers absolutely everything you need to know about financial wellbeing and be on the cutting-edge of this rapidly emerging field.

Don’t delay. Apply for your guest ticket now. The event is expected to be heavily over-subscribed.

http://owl.li/gY9q30mM6Ob

Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners’ Survey

Attention all Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners

We are excited to launch the first Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners’ Survey, a joint research initiative from The Wellbeing Leader and E-Reward.co.uk.

Here is a real opportunity to take part in a unique new research survey for workplace wellbeing practitioners, which can help to shape and define the future of this emerging function and profession.

This survey will be of interest to people who have responsibility for influencing or contributing to workplace wellbeing at an operational, tactical or strategic level. It is particularly suitable if you are seeking to leverage workplace wellbeing in your organisation, as well as having a say in developing your career in the field.

Who should take part in the survey?

The survey is open to any in-house practitioner who has responsibility or some form of influence with wellbeing in a UK-based organisation with at least 50 employees.

Take part to enter a £200 John Lewis prize draw.  All participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a £200 John Lewis electronic gift card.

Please click here to start the survey.

Why is there a need for this research?

The World Economic Forum cites organisational health as one of the Top 10 trends that will impact the global economy in coming years. Indeed leading academics forecast that organisational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.

Against that background, many organisations are putting in place their workplace wellbeing propositions, with HR and/or Occupational Health invariably finding themselves thrust into leading and developing the strategy. Often this is a bolt-on to their day jobs, where they face a steep learning curve with little or no expertise.

While wellbeing advisers/providers plug this gap to some extent, the market is bewildering and fragmented to an unlearned wellbeing practitioner. This often leads to situations where “solutions” drive strategy, and they don’t really get into the deeper cultural and behavioural aspects of wellbeing that underpin a holistic, proactive and transformational approach.

What does this research cover?

This comprehensive survey digs deep into workplace wellbeing in terms of the key organisational drivers and how wellbeing is structured and resourced. It is also asks practitioners to assess their competencies, development needs and career aspirations.

How long will the survey take to complete?

You should allow about 10-15 minutes to complete the survey.

Will I receive a copy of the survey findings?

All participants will receive a complimentary copy of the survey report later this year. But please note, the survey is confidential and all responses will be analysed anonymously.

Who are the researchers?

The research is a joint initiative between E-reward.co.uk and The Wellbeing Leader.

How do I start?

Please click here to start the survey. Please note the survey will be open until Friday 26th April.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Evan Davidge

The Wellbeing Leader

Case Study – Helping a client to ‘Shape a Better World’

We worked with a large multinational engineering consulting firm to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Employer Profile

  • 4,500 employees based in the UK
  • Predominantly male demographic, highly educated, average age 34
  • 3-year journey originating from a full review of their UK benefits
  • We identified wellbeing as critical to underpinning their new benefits strategy

Situation 

Employees had an independence of spirit that is reflected in their work, and in their dedicated pursuit of technical excellence.

However, there was a culture of excessive working and poor life balance, which was leading to burn-outs, lost productivity and ultimately sickness absences.

The company spent a lot of money looking after and caring for their people, but they had no clear objectives, a disjointed approach and too many providers. 

People were falling through the net, becoming long term sick.

Wellbeing had become a commercial imperative - the company was keen to:

"Achieve a holistic approach to health and welling benefits that focuses on the physical and mental support of our employees".

Process

We helped the firm to set clear aims and objectives:

Objectives: Share best practice, proactive healthcare, measure and evaluate, engage employees

And set out and delivered a series of building blocks, to deliver against these:

Empowerment

  • Extend education & awareness - fun and challenge
  • Introduce the Manager / Employee Health Gateway - health age calculator
  • Maintain core and voluntary health assessments - 40+, flex and Know Your Numbers

Intervention

  • Extend education & awareness - fun and challenge
  • Introduce the Manager / Employee Health Gateway - health age calculator
  • Maintain core and voluntary health assessments - 40+, flex and Know Your Numbers

Rehabilitation

  • Improve sickness absence reporting
  • Maintain active case management to minimise long term sickness - early referrals and rehabilitation case conferences
  • Extend self-referral EAP and health pathways, e.g. musculoskeletal and psychological

Protection

  • Improve Income protection, EAP, financial education, flexible working and family friendly policies
  • Protect the Healthcare Plan against future medical inflation and Government legislation
  • Achieve WELL-Building certification for all UK offices

Which in turn led to a new wellbeing approach, alongside a detailed set of measurement criteria to track progress.

Outcome

The programme was greeted with acclaim by the industry, with the client winning a series of accolades:

 

More importantly the client felt that the work had delivered significant return on their investment:

“Evan has brought about a new way of thinking and individual ownership across our region which has seen people better educated and informed about their health and wellbeing through a toolkit of information, intervention and support - leading to real bottom line savings - a win/win.“

HR Director UKMEA

 

For more details on the work, and to talk about how focusing on wellbeing can improve your bottom line,  contact the Wellbeing Leader on  07961 821 995.

 

 

Wellbeing Leadership is Alive & Kicking

A Wellbeing Leadership Paradigm

Glancing through Amazon recently, I noticed that there were 57,136 books with the word “leadership” in the title, but only 337 books with “wellbeing leadership”. That is not to say that the latter is by definition a separate and distinct discipline. Wellbeing in one form or another has always been integral to leadership practices. Moreover, as the practice of leadership has evolved, so has the understanding of it. We now apply modern concepts of neuroscience, evolutionary biology and behavioural economics to the study of leadership.

This is never more relevant then in today’s climate where leaders are being driven towards a still largely untapped gold mine – organisational wellbeing. Indeed, extensive global research by Gallup has shown a more rigorous focus on organisational and employee wellbeing that gains emotional, financial and competitive advantage.

This is evident from the recent inaugural Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) awards scheme where the majority of entries showed really impressive business results with their wellbeing initiatives. What proved to be a clear differentiator between the very good and exceptional entries is where leadership is firmly in the driving seat. The most striking examples are where leaders have shown that they are no less immune to the vicissitudes of life. Invariably, they display humility and self-awareness to champion a wellbeing cause, following personal and often life-changing experiences.

Distributive Wellbeing Leadership – Alive and Kicking

There are many different types of leadership, from CEOs, to senior management and then line managers, to an individual’s ability to lead on a particular project. It even applies to volunteer wellbeing “ambassadors”. All these types of leaders have different responsibilities when it comes to wellbeing. Therefore, leadership needs to be distributive in order to develop a culture that fosters wellbeing.

Ultimately, Boards need to buy in to the activity if it is to be co-ordinated and supported enough to achieve the best outcomes. They have the power to make far reaching changes, and to allocate the resources to make them happen. As mentioned above, the individual behaviour of senior management will also have a significant impact on the culture of the organisation. All leaders should demonstrate the behaviours they are advocating.  You can’t expect employees to take part in initiatives and change behaviours if the people above them aren’t doing so.

Arguably the most significant leader relationship is between employee and line manager. The line manager role includes creating the optimum environment for the performance of their team members. But line managers are generally regarded as the “squeezed middle”, where they are most vulnerable to personal wellbeing issues.  So they require support, resources and training to cultivate a positive work environment. This was one of the most impressive features of the REBA wellbeing entries.

Joining the Dots

In sum, leadership and employee wellbeing should be interwoven, in order to feed through to individual and organisational outcomes. For that reason it has to be a key strand of leadership development programmes to inculcate ‘hard-wired’ behaviours. This will not be for the faint-hearted, but it is attainable for any organisation with the vision and mind-set.

Wellbeing for Multinationals – Creating Ecosystems for Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases

A growing number of employers worldwide are starting to invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees. However, these strategies are also being developed against a growing global threat of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) brought on by famine, poverty, war, population / economic growth etc, which are affecting the future sustainability of organisations and the communities they serve. This article, which is written jointly by Aon and The Wellbeing Leader, is intended to contribute thought leadership to tackling NCDs and debate how multinationals are responding through creating wellbeing ecosystems that can be extended across different continents and countries.

An NCD is a medical condition or disease that is not caused by infectious agents (non-infectious or non-transmissible). NCDs can refer to chronic diseases which last for long periods of time and progress slowly. NCDs are the leading cause of death globally. Cardiovascular is the greatest NCD burden followed by mental health.

Therefore, a human-centric ecosystem can be propagated to some extent by multinational employers provided that it is fully accessible, inclusive, fair and non-discriminatory. It also requires a collaborative approach with the communities that multinationals serve, governments and the healthcare industry. The article explores this further in terms of the key challenges and steps to be taken in creating a wellbeing ecosystem across territories, how to measure its effectiveness and how to future-proof it against future megatrends. https://lnkd.in/eDCbH3z