Lack of understanding continues to compromise employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is being compromised by a lack of understanding of how to implement effective programmes, claims research from the British Safety Council. According to the study, the main reasons for this situation are the difficulties of defining wellbeing, selecting the best tools for assessing programmes and measuring the cost-effectiveness of these interventions. Inadequate people skills of many line managers and low priority given by them to employee wellbeing are also important factors. Responding to these challenges, the British Safety Council has published the report Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work (registration required).

The report defines wellbeing in the workplace and suggests a set of metrics for effectively measuring programmes and policies. The report, which is a comprehensive review of the existing literature and market intelligence, is a call to action for employers in Britain to place the needs of their workers at the top of the executive agenda.

The report makes several recommendations to employers for creating and evaluating programmes, including the following proposals: 

1.    Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in the creation and development of initiatives designed to improve their own health and wellbeing.

2.    Line managers must be appropriately trained in mental health awareness and the relevant support mechanisms, so that they have the confidence to communicate with employees in a caring and sensitive manner.  

3.    Organisations should evaluate the impact and efficacy of their interventions on a regular basis, to ensure that they adapt and respond to the changing needs of their workers.

4.    Workers’ wellbeing is linked to job quality, which is expressed through a healthy working environment, fair wages, strong relationships with managers and colleagues, job design, a degree of responsibility and authority, workload, working hours, and career development prospects.