How To Boost Employee Wellbeing [Employers Share Their Advice]

A large proportion of workers in the UK have experienced a dramatic decline in mental health in recent times. This affects people’s home lives as well as affecting businesses trying to operate in difficult circumstances.

Today we’re sharing some powerful insights and advice from other UK employers to help your people and their wellbeing in the year ahead.

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If you’d like to talk to us about resolving any HR matters in your business, contact HR Star here.

Advice On How To Boost Employee Wellbeing

Research underlines that 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. 

In relation to mental health specifically, a recent report released by the CIPD emphasises that employees were suffering from reduced motivation, loss of purpose, anxiety and isolation. 

What can leaders do to support their employees during these unprecedented times? Here’s our advice.

Set the tone

“‘How are you?’ If your culture is one that already shows a caring attitude towards employees then doing this remotely should be second nature. If it’s not there to start with then whatever was there will only get worse.” Michael Rose, Product Owner at The Floow

We know that many employees do not feel comfortable to speak about poor mental health. Organisations need to break the taboo and stigma surrounding mental health and create an environment where people are comfortable discussing the topic. As a leader, speak about mental health openly. Share your own challenges and promote an open and inclusive culture so that employees feel safe to disclose stress or any mental health issues they might be experiencing.  Normalise seeking help and therapy, and destigmatise mental wellness difficulties.

When leaders speak about their own challenges, be it mental health-related or otherwise, it makes them look human and relatable. Research has shown that authentic leadership can foster trust and improve employee engagement and performance.

Walk the talk: model healthy behaviours

Model your behaviour so that your team members feel they can prioritise self-care and set boundaries. 

Share your own healthy habits, taking a walk in the middle of the day, or switching off your email to relax and recharge. Encourage team members to do the same.

Boost Communication

As workforces look to return to business premises, there is a need for ongoing support and communication. Keep your employees informed about any organisational changes or updates.

“There are many aspects to improving wellness and a key one for us is engagement. We need to keep our people constantly engaged – lots of regular smaller snippets of communication, little and often.” Melanie Sheehan, Group HR Manager at Markey Group Limited

Establish channels for your employees to express concerns, fears or any other questions they might have. 

Checking in with your employees regularly on a 1-2-1 basis is more important than ever. When doing so, go beyond a simple ‘How are you?’ and ask specific questions about what support would be helpful to them in their role.

Listen actively, and encourage your people to talk and ask questions. While you may not always know what to say, what matters the most is to create space to hear from your team members how they are doing and to be compassionate.

Communicate on a regular basis on wellbeing and mental health support, and wherever possible, support activities that encourage physical, mental, financial, and social wellbeing.

Some tips include:

  • Sharing techniques to stay calm, present, and focused.
  • Encouraging staff to disconnect and take time for self-care.
  • Reinforcing the importance of being physically active. You could organise a step-count challenge for the team throughout a week or any given period of time and offer a symbolic award to the winner/winners.
  • Providing tips and resources on maintaining a healthy lifestyle (nutrition, sleep, rest, and exercise).
  • Informing and educating employees about alcohol and drugs, including alcohol and drug-related problems, prevention techniques, as well as information regarding services available to assist your employees.
  • Do not ignore financial wellbeing. There are many financial tools such as budget planners that you can share to help your employees manage their finances.

Flexibility is a must

Make sure employees have the flexibility and support to do their job to the best of their ability given the current circumstances.

It helps to acknowledge that different people have working patterns, particularly around remote working and virtual teaming. 

You can establish flexible working practices such as adapting working hours or arranging for temporary job-sharing to support your employees who are balancing family care responsibilities with work. Flexibility can really help your teams thrive throughout these uncertain times.

“Take a flexible approach to working, be outcome-driven rather than focussing on the hours worked Encourage this from the top down, understand people’s personal situations and accommodate these.” Dave McConachie, Chief Commercial Officer at Bellrock Technology

Invest in managers

The CIPD 2020 Health and Wellbeing Report identified ineffective management style as one of the top causes of work-related stress. 

Managers must remember to empathise with different people on different issues. While managers are not expected to become health experts, it can help to give them training to carry out sensitive conversations and direct employees to appropriate resources. 

HR Star can provide guidance to managers on how to structure conversations with employees regarding their wellbeing.

Build connections

Create opportunities for employees to come together. 

If your business will be retaining some elements of virtual work, consider holding virtual challenges, virtual water coolers, virtual coffee breaks, networking events, and other such online team-building exercises which will help employees remain connected. 

For many people, these opportunities to connect with colleagues help combat feelings of social isolation. 

Provide learning opportunities

Research has shown that learning can help improve and maintain wellbeing by providing employees with a sense of achievement. So, look to provide access to tools and online learning platforms to empower your employees and, at the same time, increase your business performance.

You could also consider creating cross-functional teams and enabling your people to learn from each other. When employees are part of company-wide solutions, their levels of engagement inevitably improve.

Recognise achievements

Value and recognise work performance and the positive contribution of your employees. Showing appreciation plays a big part in keeping your people happy and engaged at work. Appreciation should not only come from managers or senior leaders; positive feedback from colleagues can be just as important.

By creating a culture of support and appreciation, you encourage your people to succeed and carry your business forward.

Want Some HR Help?

If you’d like to talk to us about resolving any HR matters in your business, contact HR Star here.

Advice From Business Leaders On How To Support Employee Wellbeing

Now let’s look at some powerful insights and advice from other UK business leaders to help you and your employees in the year ahead.

Melanie Sheehan, Group HR Manager at Markey Group Limited

There are many aspects to improving wellness and a key one for us is engagement. We need to keep our people constantly engaged – lots of regular smaller snippets of communication, little and often. Employees are happier if they are engaged and they will also be more engaged if they feel they are performing well. So, we try to enable good performance by taking away any barriers to success and by enabling our people to play to their strengths wherever possible. People generally want to perform well, but sometimes aren’t given the opportunity to do so and that’s bad for morale, engagement, and welfare. We aim to always bring out the best in our people and to celebrate their successes openly and enthusiastically on our internal portal and newsletters, as well as publicly on our social media, as long as those people are happy with us doing so. In fact, we have recently appointed a social media consultant to help us to improve the way we do this and we have already seen a very strong response.

Farah Bandukwalla, Business Development Executive at Technology@Work

We share our technology@work tips & news every Tuesday and Thursday via our Linkedln page. We often discuss things like keeping your motivation up or how to be productive while working from home, it might be useful to have a look 🙂 Some previous articles I’ve worked on outline the pomodoro technique, it was coined by an Italian student and helps maximise productivity at home. At the beginning of your day, you create a to-do list and then choose one task. Focus solely on that task for 20-25 minutes and then take a 5-10 break, this entire cycle is called a pomodoro. For every 4 pomodoros take a longer break perhaps for a meal or a walk etc. Studies have shown this inherently breaks down a procrastination cycle and helps keep your mind active and focused throughout the day. I think personally for me there are a few things that help me stay motivated and feeling better through the day, I always make time for exercise or a walk irrespective of the weather. I usually work in a room where there is abundant natural light and when I’m on calls I try walking around the space rather than just sitting in one place. I’ve also replaced caffeine with hot water and think that helps a lot with my mood. In general working in a space that’s clean and bright helps too! 

Michael Rose, Product Owner at The Floow

‘How are you?’ If your culture is one that already shows a caring attitude towards employees then doing this remotely should be second nature. If it’s not there to start with then whatever was there will only get worse. Build social time into the remote working day/week. It happens naturally in the office environment so try hard to recreate that remotely if you can. Recreating any social aspects of your business remotely will be at least 5 times harder to set up and get good engagement on.

Dave McConachie, Chief Commercial Officer at Bellrock Technology Ltd

Communication is key, using multiple channels, not just email. Understand your people and how they want to be communicated to.

Make sure it is not all work-related communication, recreate watercooler chats in other ways. Encourage group chats, virtual monthly virtual events, and get-togethers.

Keep people informed of what is going on with the business and any plans you have.

Take a flexible approach to work, be outcome-driven rather than focussing on the hours worked Encourage this from the top down, understand people’s personal situations and accommodate these.

Encourage regular breaks from the computer, people need some screen-free time.

Karen Thomson, Owner of Snack Shack

The best way I’ve found to help mental wellness is to literally say thank you to your staff. To tell them that they are doing a good job – that they are valued and needed; and to say this honestly and regularly. Basically, to always treat them like you would want to be treated. It may not seem like a big deal but, honestly, when I say that a good job has been done, I can guarantee it will be received with a smile.

Jack Churchill, Co-Founder & CEO at Scanning Pens

7 million adults in England have low literacy (according to the Literacy Trust), it is important for all employers to consider what assistive technology is available to both support and enable employees to be productive.

Christopher Smith – Logical Utilities

Understanding what drives your employees, praising their success, and ensuring a strong workplace culture is key to encouraging staff engagement especially during these difficult times.

Fanny Snaith – Certified Money Coach 

There is much talk of financial wellbeing in the workplace, but what can you actually do to help your staff feel financially well and that they have control over their financial future?

My experience as a money coach has revealed over and over that people know that they should spend less than they earn.  They know that they need to create a budget.  What they don’t know is HOW to do it or HOW to beat the resistance that keeps them from starting.  A combination of both those “don’t knows” leads to living in a financial fog where there is no clarity around their income or outgoings which leads to a lack of confidence in themselves resulting in worry, fear, anxiety, and a feeling of being inadequate. 

A small amount of financial education could get them on the ladder of learning about money and their personal finances and also get them on the hook of wanting to know more. Here are 5 simple steps to get them started:

Start saving every day today – even 1p into a pot is fine.  Building a habit of daily saving is known to encourage people to save more over time.  Also, daily habits are more likely to become residual.  Focusing on money every day is a start to embracing looking after their finances better overall.

  1. Start tracking their money – either using the bank’s facility or an app like Money Dashboard.  Noting what they spend each day again attracts interest in their money.
  2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle.  Feeling better generally encourages a desire for total wellbeing.
  3. Encourage learning by allowing time on money websites like MoneySavingExpert.com
  4. Set up money conversation sessions at lunchtime to open the door to talking about money and discover how we are all different when it comes to money – and that is ok.
  5. Encourage thought about mindset.  A growth mindset will allow personal development, a fixed negative mindset where language like “I am rubbish with money” will not facilitate change. Focusing on thought and listening to self-language can be a great catalyst to change.

Paul Bence – Managing Director – George Bence Group

I think now is the time to really embrace emotional intelligence (EQ) with your staff, being empathetic, and displaying flexibility with their needs outside the workplace.

All businesses are looking to survive, sustain or prosper in these difficult times for the economy but there is a real balance between meeting workplace goals/targets & achieving an added level of staff compassion & consideration. This isn’t an extra overhead to the Company, rather a change in staff engagement for the senior management teams which will add value in the long term.

Want Some HR Help?

If you’d like to talk to us about resolving any HR matters in your business, contact HR Star here.

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