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6/6/2016 2:35:51 PM

Your most valuable assets: the importance of employee well being

Employee well-being: it’s a topic most organisations are aware of but that few do well. It goes without saying your employees are your most valuable asset and that without them your business would be no business at all. So why does the physical and emotional well-being of staff continue to be one of the most neglected areas of employee care? And do you, as an employer, have a duty of care to ensure the health, as well as the wealth, of your employees?
First off, let’s take a look at the cold, hard stats. According to well-being specialists Work&Well-Being the average costs associated with a failure to adequately provide for the health and well-being of UK staff amounts to:
  • Annual sickness absence = £1,500 per employee
  • Annual cost of sickness from mental ill-health = £8.1 billion
  • Number of days lost to stress, anxiety or depression = 24 days per employee
Figures like these can have a potentially devastating effect on business so, yes, I think we can safely say that employee well-being should be high on the list of an employer’s priorities. It’s easy to understand how the duty of care an employer has towards staff directly impacts the success of a business. What is less easy to understand is the subject of employee well-being itself and even employers with an appreciation of it often fail to see that it extends far beyond an interest in the conventional health matters of staff.
But recognising the importance of employee well-being is the first step towards building a better company culture. When you add into the mix a process for dealing with it you have the beginnings of an effective well-being in work policy and you have gone some way to addressing this crucial issue.
So, as an employer, what steps can you take to care for employee well-being?

Personal development

A good place to start is to heighten the emphasis on employees’ personal development. For some employers, this might involve a conversation about where a member of staff would like to be in 5 years time, for others it might involve implementing an employee growth plan to help them get there. Either way, gaining a better understanding as to what makes your team ‘tick’ will lead to a better understanding of their personal well-being.
Encouraging staff development has been proven to increase job satisfaction and well-being with employees feeling empowered to pursue their ambitions or take an entirely new direction in their career with the support of an employer.

Best practise 

Setting best practises is another effective way of nurturing employee well-being, especially in the current culture of ‘work hard, play hard’. Staff at all levels frequently suffer from ‘burnout’ and stress owing to an increasing inability to switch-off and leave work at the door. While advances in technology have made our lives infinitely easier they have also blurred the lines between work- and home-life.  
Set the tone by arranging some training courses to encourage well-being, mindfulness or relaxation techniques for example. Introduce flexible deadlines so staff can work at their own pace and still deliver. Ban the reading or responding to of emails after 6pm. Even simple changes can have a dramatic effect on the well-being of your staff. Encourage walk or cycle to work initiatives, arrange a monthly staff outing, introduce #DressDownFriday, the list goes on.

Be kind!

Lastly, remember it’s not cruel to be kind. A boss who listens to their staff will have the respect and trust of their staff. Whereas implementing some of our suggestions comes at a cost, a little kindness costs nothing and will be valued infinitely more. And I use the term ‘listening’ in the broadest sense of the word; feedback, constructive criticism, debate, discussion, a natter over a cuppa - they are all ways to bolster the well-being of your staff. Staff value employers who spend time recognising their efforts much more than they value monetary or other material gain. After a particularly hard day, remember to say ‘thank you’ - you won’t regret it.
Employers who choose to adopt a more holistic approach to the health of staff can expect a healthier and happier workforce but also heightened productivity and improved profits. A win-win situation, wouldn’t you say? 

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