5 Things You Can Do To Lead Workplace Wellbeing In Your Team
In the pursuit of productivity targets and results, one of the things that often suffers is people’s work life balance. The irony being that this has a direct impact on the very same targets we are trying to achieve. Employee wellbeing is taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in the majority (57%) of organisations. Less than two-fifths of organisations monitor the cost of employee absence, which a CIPD report calculates is costing £554 per employee per year. View the report details
When you consider the cultural impact of leaders who are inattentive to the wellbeing and needs of their employees it paints a picture of an organisation that neither cares nor prioritises the health of its staff. So, we end up with a workforce that believes that the only consideration of their employer is the results that they deliver.
When this happens, the workforce may as well be automated machinery rather than humans.
At a time when organisations promote that ‘employees are our greatest asset’ and ‘our employees are our greatest competitive advantage’ this situation is profoundly damaging to both employee engagement and productivity. Our organisations are nothing more than the sum today of the attitudes, skills and knowledge of the teams they comprise of.
To ignore the physical and emotional wellbeing of the workforce is for example the equivalent of disregarding the maintenance dept. in a manufacturing company. Recently, Strategic Leadership was working with a mixed group of HR directors from UK industry. We asked them to estimate what percentage of their operational costs can be attributed to staff and manpower. The answers we received ranged from 30-55%. Let us not be under any illusion that when we are talking about the efficiency of up to 50% of your operational costs. This is NO small topic!
Many leaders need to significantly change their mindset from seeing this as a soft HR topic to THEIR own business-critical priority. It’s as important as any other KPI they may consider.
Here are some simple things that YOU can do on a regular basis to put wellbeing centre stage:
- Make sure you regularly check in with your team members, asking simple questions such as ‘how are you?’ or ‘how are you finding work / workload?’ to stay on top on any issues. Not only does it make people feel cared for, but improved wellbeing reduces absence and improves productivity.
- Read between the lines as employees may not directly tell you if there are issues. This is true if there is a stigma or a culture that doesn’t promote this. Be sensitive to body language, voice tone and intuition. Also, be sensitive to changes in behaviour or character in team members as this could be an early warning sign of problems.
- ACT…Don’t ignore it – the chances are you may already know if people are suffering, and it could be that you choose to overlook it for the time being to reach goals (DON’T). Ask what you can do to improve things, what they need and do something. Speak to HR or get outside help if you are unsure.
- Give back a little – most likely your team members will be working longer hours than contracted or giving more than is fair. Try to let them go home early sometimes or come in late – it demonstrates a powerful level of appreciation for the efforts they put in.
- Create a culture of wellbeing – At a company level, your business is probably effective at measuring key indicators of success. We need to find ways to be equally committed and skilled at measuring the health and wellbeing of the workforce. Normalise conversations on wellbeing, health and mental health in your team. Find ways to create a safe space for people who may be struggling with personal mental health challenges or if work factors are playing on their mind like work volume, business or team changes such as redundancies or mergers to talk. If your company doesn’t have a formal wellness or Employee Assistance Programme or Occupational Health team, there are still small things leaders can do to keep wellness on the agenda.
CIPD urges employers: link employee wellbeing to business strategy http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/cipd-urges-employers-link-employee-wellbeing-to-business-strategy/
Author: Chris Atkinson