1 Apr 2019

Wellbeing initiatives in the workplace can have a positive impact on culture, reputation and profitability, so are crucial to future organisational success.

That was the overriding message in the first of our People Summit Series. The event, which was held on 5 March 2019, brought together strategic decision-makers, experienced HR practitioners and senior executives to discuss health and wellbeing in the workplace and share best practice.

Here we summarise the key messages from the event and offer advice to help business leaders implement a successful wellness strategy.

Prioritise employee wellness and secure buy-in

Speaking at the event, Joanna Shurety from Shurety Coaching, highlighted that “wellness strategies are no longer a nice to have, but a strategic priority for businesses.”

Recent research underlines the drivers which are fuelling the need for effective wellbeing strategies. According to research by Canada Life Group Insurance, 42 per cent of employees overeat due to workplace stress and an independent survey of 1001 British workers, found that 87 per cent sit for most of the day.

Furthermore, latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive reveal that 15.4 million working days are lost in the UK due to stress, depression or anxiety, and according to the CIPD’s latest research, 55% of HR professionals have reported an increase in mental health conditions in their organisation.

To be successful however, a wellness programme must secure buy-in from a wide cross-section of the workforce, with leaders taking an active role that goes beyond endorsement. That may require cultural shifts that help align wellness with overall business goals. Effective and regular communication regarding initiatives, coupled with visible participation from senior management, can generate momentum and a “feel-good factor”, often for little financial cost.

Empower employees to start conversations

One of the biggest challenges for businesses can be identifying wellbeing issues in the workplace, especially poor mental health.

Line managers are often best placed to spot the signs but can be reluctant to speak to staff because they are scared of the answer. Some are concerned that the business may not be able to meet their needs and the employee may have unrealistic expectations.

Mental health and wellbeing training can be a useful tool for managers. It helps them to develop the skills and confidence to recognise potential issues and get people talking at the earliest opportunity. These conversations could help to resolve potential issues before they develop further.

Base strategies on employee motivations

Jan Holmes, Taylor Vinters’ L&D Manager warned that: “Apples and pears, and walking the stairs does not make a wellbeing strategy.”

To be effective, the strategy must be based on what motivates employees and what they value the most. Analysing the needs of staff and helping them to define their ‘purpose’ as well as the effectiveness of existing wellness services will help businesses understand organisational priorities.

At Taylor Vinters, this approach involved discussions with all employees which helped to define a ‘wellbeing journey’ including activities which help to improve physical health. To help champion the strategy and improve engagement, Wellbeing Warriors have been nominated across the business and staff are proactively encouraged to participate in wellbeing events.

Commit to change

The Thriving at Work review makes recommendations to help employers to provide a “good workplace” supporting their staff in building resilience, maintaining good mental health and thriving at work. It includes a list of steps that businesses of all sizes can take to improve workplace mental health.

The review has also triggered the launch of the ‘Mindful Business Charter’ which aims to remove unnecessary sources of workplace stress and promote better mental health and wellbeing in the legal community.

Taylor Vinters is one of a growing number of organisations looking to implement the charter, which outlines a set of principles aimed at building trust, improving communication, respecting the need to ‘switch off’ and implementing a best practice approach to collaboration, delegation and supervision.

Adopt best practice

At Taylor Vinters, we specialise in helping employers resolve strategic, complex HR issues – including sensitive issues around mental health and long-term sickness absence.

Kate Ledwidge, senior employment lawyer at Taylor Vinters, said “Poor management of health and well-being issues can lead to below-par performance, which in turn can create conflict with capable employees who may be experiencing challenges outside of work. Equally, we see plenty of examples where early and effective engagement can make a real difference. It is good for business and significantly reduces legal risk.”

More and more businesses are taking workplace wellness seriously and if strategies are implemented effectively, they can generate tangible benefits for employees and the organisation as a whole. Creating the right culture and engaging staff in developing and maintaining a wellness programme can significantly improve productivity and workplace engagement.

For further information or best practice advice on implementing, promoting or managing health and wellbeing initiatives, please contact Dominic Holmes or Jan Holmes.