With working hours averaging 8 hours per day for any full-time employee, one-third of a worker’s life is devoted to the workplace.
Given the workplace’s centrality in a worker's life, the work environment must be conducive to employee welfare and well-being. Studies have shown a direct correlation between an employee’s well-being, productivity, and organizational effectiveness.
The concept of worker well-being extends well beyond the prescribed OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) measures, which promote and nurture a safe and healthy work environment for all stakeholders, encompassing a 360° view of employee welfare. It is an important perspective as the business world is no longer confined to the conventional physical office premises but has transitioned to remote working where the home has become the office. The worker’s well-being is location agnostic; whether work is from home or hybrid between on-site and off-site premises, employee welfare actions require focused attention.
The 2020 Deloitte survey of Human Capital Trends reported that eighty percent of respondents identified well-being as crucial for their organization’s success. Forward-looking organizations are now adopting a holistic approach to worker well-being, encompassing not only the physical aspects of wellness but also the emotional, social, and financial needs.
The following key facets are usually dealt with when enterprises seek to provide a comprehensive well-being program for their employees:
Besides standard safety and hygiene protocols provided by institutions, physical well-being includes promoting good health and a sound body. Setting up physical activity facilities for off-hour use by employees, outdoor and indoor games, team sports, exercisers, recreation areas, guidance on healthy habits, healthy food options incorporated in cafes, medical consultations, etc., all improve workers’ physical well-being and act as stress busters. For the remote worker, bearing membership costs to local gyms, etc., may be thought of.
People like to grow and progress in their chosen field of work. Organizations concerned with employees’ well-being must provide supporting opportunities to their workers for a rising career path. Personal development initiatives, training, and development, career progression opportunities must be made available equally to all employees.
Meeting financial liabilities and expenses is a major concern of employees. It becomes more acute in the face of any disruption and an uncertain environment. In the 2021 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, it was revealed that anxiety about finances weighs higher than that of job, health, and relationship stress. Employers who recognize this aspect of employee stress and make efforts to address this through suitable incentives and compensation packages including soft loans, bridge loans, emergency funds, etc. will ensure retention, better loyalty, and higher productivity from their employees.
The workplace environment must take care of its employees' social needs. In these remote working times, social connectedness is the biggest casualty. Employers must employ suitable technological tools that encourage participation, collaboration, and teamwork, so the off-site workers do not feel isolated and alone. Social gatherings, events, and celebrations are activities that can take place either physically or virtually. Enablers who develop relationships and networks contribute to team building and well-being, which helps both the individual and the organization.
Efforts are being made by enterprises to remove the tag of appearing impersonal and indifferent. For employee and institution development, such barriers are required to be broken. An emotional connection between the two makes for more engaged and loyal employees. An empathetic employer and a flexible approach ease mental stress. Open communication channels that are available as and when required by an employee, listening, conversing, and lending an ear, a pat on the back, superior and peer-level support, to realize that somebody has their back, etc., are approaches that help employees to navigate through emotionally distressing times.
Corporates rated high on the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) scale and contribute to the community welfare find resonance with the new generation employee. Purpose-led enterprises whose objectives and values align with those of the employees get to benefit from lasting bonds between the workers and the institution. Workers in such workplaces enjoy a feel-good factor as their purpose well-being gets fulfilled.
Employees' well-being at the workplace takes a holistic look at the welfare of valuable human resources. Such initiatives go a long way in ensuring worker commitment and contentment by mitigating workplace-related stress. At the same time, the institution must be serious about the welfare of its workers. Undertaking superficial actions in the name of well-being will not give positive long-term results but end up being counterproductive. Management has to be proactive, visibly supportive, and cultivate worker well-being as an enterprise-wide culture.
Let us look at 10 practices and initiatives that progressive institutions have successfully implemented to make the work environment richer and satisfying for their workers.
Open Communication Channels : Rigidities and hierarchies in communication often hinder well-being. Such blocks need to be removed, and communication is made open and informal. It gives a message to the employee that they will be heard that their concerns will be addressed. Listening, empathizing, and giving tangible solutions create a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth amongst the workers. Surveys, polls, reviews, feedback routes, concern and grievance redress mechanisms, forums and newsletters, informal get-togethers, frequent interactions, etc., are some ways to have an open communication culture.
Be Appreciative: It is a natural human craving to be recognized and praised for contributing to the enterprise. Valuing employees and celebrating successes are wonderful motivators. Awards, Medals, certificates, employee leader boards, gifts, incentives, etc., work as morale boosters can help uplift worker well-being.
Flexi-Work Hours: Employees have varied needs and requirements. Introducing flexibility in time and work targets, in tune with worker needs, exhibits the enterprise's concern towards employees. Workers felt cared for and understood, adding to their well-being.
Personal Growth and Development : Employees always look for better opportunities. The institution that takes care of its personal development in terms of skill up-gradation, career progression, specialization, continuous learning, etc., not only enhances its talent pool but contributes to employee well-being.
Social Events: Such events improve a worker’s sense of belonging and community. It builds teams and relationships. Involving employee families in company events extends the workplace well-being to a wider audience.
Encourage Me-time : Time offs and facility of rest and recovery help create a better work-life balance. Companies can build in mandatory paid leaves, holiday time, sabbaticals, and breaks as stress busters for their employee's well-being.
Encourage Devolution of Control : Workers who enjoy greater responsibility and control have better well-being. Provide opportunities to employees to have a greater say in workflows and work design. Develop a consultative and collaborative mechanism that takes inputs from the workers.
Support Employees Personal Needs : Responsible businesses extend a helping hand in meeting the worker's requirements. While it may not always be feasible to support, the fact that the institution is available for backing-up fills the worker with well-being. Soft loans, emergency funding, letters of recommendation, maternity/paternity leave, employee assistance programs, group insurances, etc., are some ways an institution can support.
Provide Volunteering Opportunities : Connecting with the community and contributing to the larger good makes workers integrate better with society and the enterprise. Volunteering and social outreach enhance personal well-being and are psychologically energizing and raise self-esteem.
Continuously Review Workplace EnvironmentDo not make employee well-being a one-time exercise. In a dynamic situation, a continuous review is necessary to ensure that worker well-being is not sacrificed for some other initiative or a mismatch between business imperatives and worker well-being
Investing time and effort in a worker well-being strategy is investing in your best resources. Since this has serious implications for the business, it is better to get it right. We at Gyrus help transform workplace environments through our learning systems. So, do feel free to reach out to us.