December 10, 2019
The future of workplace wellbeing is in HR’s hands; hence, the discipline is even more pivotal to organisational success. As admin and payroll become increasingly digitised and automated, time can be spent more effectively, supporting good people to do good work. Influential people are now catching on to the importance of wellbeing. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told More than GDP, “We need to address the societal wellbeing of our nation, not just the economic wellbeing”. Her government will set a budget to measure wellbeing and the long-term impact of policy on the quality of people’s lives.
Arguably, modern HR is a full circle return to the HR of 100 years ago. Before the arrival of computers, the internet and automation, the ‘Personnel Administration’ department’s time was spent on the wider requirements of hiring, monitoring, firefighting and compensating employees, and employee experience and welfare were central to the role.
Up to as recently as ten years ago, wellbeing wasn’t much thought about, let alone acted on. GWI’s Wellness Economy Report of Oct 2018 revealed that of the global workplace wellness market is worth just 1% of the $4.2 total global wellness economy, yet how much time do we spend at work? The importance and impact of workplace wellness has been woefully neglected.
Taking care of employee wellbeing takes care of organisational wellbeing. Ignoring employee wellbeing is not without cost. How much time is lost to absenteeism and presenteeism? How often do top people choose to work elsewhere, attracted to a more desirable work environment? How frequently are we losing good employees because they felt undervalued or disengaged? How much productivity is lost as employees struggle with mental and physical ill health?
Wellbeing’s shift from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘necessity’ is driven by data, and by the impact of more recent recruits in today’s workplace. Deloitte’s 2019 Survey of younger employees reveals 55% believe that profit is their employer’s top priority. The majority of respondents believed that employees’ livelihoods should be a priority, but that organisations are underdelivering. Younger employees place high value on making a difference, figures suggest they would prefer to work in an organisation aligned to their beliefs than one that pays more. they also recognise the importance of being valued, Office Team discovered 76% would leave if they felt underappreciated. The time is now to create a working environment that supports people to feel well, valued and supported.
Workplace wellbeing of the future
Workplace wellbeing has a promising future. According to Aon, 96% of employers see a direct correlation between wellbeing and performance. More businesses see the stats and are putting wellbeing at the heart of their budget. Businesses with highly engaged employees saw a 41% reduction in absenteeism alongside a 17% increase in productivity according to this Gallup poll.
Jacinda Ardern’s focus on wellbeing is mirrored by forward thinking, switched on organisations. Becca-Jane Schofield is Social Media Manager at M&C Saatchi, “You are at your best when you feel your best – we recognise that”.
Many private sector organisations would benefit from a more strategic and targeted approach that identifies and addresses the underlying threats to wellbeing
This year’s Aon Benefits and Trends Survey reveals a 16% increase in the number of businesses planning to develop an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) (i.e. the whole employee experience of working for an organisation). An EVP is about more than the usual benefits package, as Cary Cooper says, businesses need to “set themselves up to be ready for the complexities of the future”.
A sound understanding of the psychology of your employees is an asset. Knowing the questions to ask and how to ask them empowers you to create a dynamic environment that is right for your employees. Consider too that wellbeing means different things to different people, there is a big overlap with inclusiveness.
This years’ CIPD report summed up the best approach for maximum effectiveness, ‘Our findings suggest that many private sector organisations would benefit from a more strategic and targeted approach that identifies and addresses the underlying threats to wellbeing. They also need to ensure that well-being initiatives are achieving results through evaluating outcomes and taking a continuous improvement approach.’
Our prediction is that wellbeing rooms will be the norm. Organisations that implement and evaluate meaningful wellbeing strategies will see a positive correlation with performance, and consequently, will thrive. Wellbeing will be factored in to business budgets and the cycle will continue.
The future is bright, and every business has the ability to make a significant impact. It is well evidenced that workplace wellbeing is linked to attracting top talent, performance, absence and retention. CIPD advice is ‘that many private sector organisations would benefit from a more strategic and targeted approach that identifies and addresses the underlying threats to well-being.’ They also highlight the need to ‘ensure that well-being initiatives are achieving results through evaluating outcomes and taking a continuous improvement approach’.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, address the wellbeing needs of your employees, constantly evolve and improve and your organisation will reap the rewards. While more businesses are switching on to the impacts of a cleverly implemented workplace wellbeing strategy, it may be a case of ‘only the fittest survive’. Ticking boxes by putting a few wellbeing activities in place is not a sustainable solution. An effective workplace wellbeing programme requires insight, understanding and the ability to adapt and improve.