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Why it is important to focus on employee wellbeing right now!

As an employer, it is one of your responsibilities to care for the wellbeing of your employees. And by wellbeing, we mean their physical, mental, social and financial wellness. After all, they are your business's greatest asset, and it may not always be obvious, but taking care of your employees is tantamount to taking care of your business. Here are some key reasons highlighting the importance of employee wellbeing.

Updated 16th September 2023

When we published the original version of this article back in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting its stride. And it was in these difficult and unusual times that the importance of employee wellbeing really took centre stage.

Social isolation, uncertainty, and the unprecedented demand for remote work showed that employers have a clear and present duty of care to their people. And, hopefully, these are lessons we can carry through to 2023 and beyond.

The current state of global workplace wellbeing

The pandemic may be over. But we're still feeling its after-effects in the professional world today. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, employee stress is at a "record-breaking" high for the second year in a row. Most people are quiet quitting, and over half are seeking new work.

Wellbeing and engagement are heavily linked. It's unlikely (although not impossible) for one to shift without the other being affected. And both suffered heavily across the world during COVID. But global employee engagement has increased in the past couple of years, to record levels of its own. And yet, occupational stress remains high.

That may be because these so-called "record-breaking" global engagement levels are only 23%. Meaning 77% of employees globally are either unengaged or actively disengaged at work. With that in mind, it's no surprise that rates of job stress, quiet quitting and turnover are so high.

The importance of employee wellbeing for business success

It can increase their productivity

When employees are happy and satisfied, they operate at their best. They are better at their work and are far more efficient. On the other hand, when they are sick, they tend to do things slower and may even lose focus. As highlighted by the Office for National Statistics, the UK's sickness absence rate rose to 2.6% in 2022.

This is its highest since 2004, equating to 185.6 million working days lost. Yet another record high. It may seem counter-intuitive, but as an employer, you can keep this from happening by being extra understanding when employees take sick leave.

This will let them know that their health is also your priority. It also prevents unwell employees from working themselves into an even worse state and needing more recovery time.

It can create a culture of success

When employees are healthy in every aspect of wellbeing, they help create a company culture built on trust and care, which can be easily optimised for success. Such a culture can make employees feel more at ease with sharing their insights, and this can snowball to the formulation of better plans and strategies. As explained in our post 'How to Boost Employee Engagement in 2020 (and beyond)', a workplace culture that encourages, supports and nurtures your people is key to great employee engagement.

It can increase employee morale

Employees who feel valued by their employers are more likely to stay at their jobs and put in more effort. Biz Fluent notes that when the company is going through a crisis, employees with higher morale tend to work harder to help the company survive and achieve its goals. One way to boost the morale of your employees is by praising them for a job well done in public and calling them out for their mistakes in private.

The importance of employee wellbeing is clear; happier, healthier staff are more productive, more innovative and stay in post.

How to support employee wellbeing

So the importance of employee wellbeing is clear, but how do you show your employees you care? Well there is a multitude of ways, but a good starting point are to look at the following actions:

Consider every dimension of employee wellbeing

It's easy to think of wellbeing as purely a matter of physical and mental health. But it's not quite that simple. There are actually four different kinds of employee wellbeing:

  • Physical wellbeing
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Social wellbeing
  • Financial wellbeing

The importance of physical wellbeing and mental health are obvious enough. And even social wellbeing had its time in the spotlight during the pandemic. But now, with cost-of-living increases everywhere, financial wellbeing is more important than ever.

All forms of wellbeing are connected, able to influence each other. The stress of financial wellbeing, for example, can damage our physical wellbeing, mental health, and even our ability to socialise. And expecting employees to simply put these stressors aside when they come into work is wildly unrealistic.

Let employees control their time

Showing your employees that you trust them is a good way to show how much you value them. An article by Verizon Connect on how to work smart points out how people can only normally concentrate on a task for 90 minutes before tapping out or losing focus.

This is why giving employees free-reign over how they spend their time may be a better option. A lot of companies have already started offering flexible hours because of the benefits the setup provides. Research on flexible work schedules has shown that when employees are given greater control over their time, tardiness and employee turnover are reduced.

Make wellness programs readily available to all staff

The importance of employee wellbeing means you can't afford not to have support measures in place. Workplaces can be stressful environments for many people, and they often overwhelm the body and mind. Business News Daily notes that you can effectively prevent the effects of an overwhelming workload by offering wellness programs.

You can even provide a nap room, where your employees can take a quick rest, as studies have shown that napping for as little as 20 minutes has positive effects on attention, vigilance, mood and alertness. But, really, the best thing you can do is make sure employees are getting manageable workloads.

As mentioned, your business's greatest asset is your employees, and by investing some time (and maybe even money) into making sure they are well, you are indirectly investing in your company as well.

We utilise Weekly10's private question feature to route wellbeing questions straight to our mental health first aid team. This means we can nudge our staff into opening up if something isn't right, taking the emphasis solely off of them to act.

Hannah Saunders - Toddle