It’s never been so clear as it is today how closely work and life are entwined – and how crucial it is for people’s wellbeing to keep them in a healthy equilibrium.
As an essential element of successful ESG (environment, sustainability and governance) programs, wellness scores high. This is particularly true now that employers are acting like consumers and will only remain with organizations who provide working environments they enjoy.
eBook: Why your employee is now a consumer – and what you should do about it
Research by Gallup underscores why it’s important for workplace leaders to take action to help their employees thrive.
The organization says: “Work influences home life, and home life influences work. It’s in an employer’s best interest for workers to have a thriving life and bring the effect of that thriving life to work.”
Enabling workers to thrive in multiple dimensions of wellbeing – encompassing physical, emotional, social, financial and career aspects – significantly reduces issues like disease burden, burnout, anxiety, and related costs.
Wellbeing – is it worth promoting?
Common sense says yes – workers who feel well are happier, more settled and more productive. There’s also a moral duty on organizations to support their staff, and those who do will enjoy a reputational uplift that encourages recruitment.
Expert bodies also agree. The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, emphasizes the centrality of promoting and supporting employee wellbeing. The organization says an effective workplace wellbeing program can deliver mutual benefits for individuals, organizations, economies, and communities.
It says: “Promoting and supporting employee wellbeing is at the heart of our purpose to champion better work and working lives because an effective workplace wellbeing programme can deliver mutual benefit to people, organisations, economies and communities.
“Healthy workplaces help people to flourish and reach their potential. This means creating an environment that actively promotes a state of contentment, benefiting both employees and the organisation.”
So what helps build wellbeing?
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) has been delving into the strategies that can improve employees’ health and wellbeing. One key strategy, it says, is to give workers more control over how they perform their work.
HBR says: “Research indicates that having little discretion over how work gets done is associated not only with poorer mental health but also with higher rates of heart disease.
“What’s more, the combination of high work demands and low job control significantly increases the risks of diabetes and death from cardiovascular causes. Even relatively small changes in worker autonomy can make a difference in employee well-being.”
The combination of high work demands and low job control also significantly increases the risks of diabetes and cardiovascular-related deaths. Yet even small changes in worker autonomy can positively impact employee wellbeing.
Example: HBR reports that a study in a customer service call center found empowering employees with more training and autonomy in resolving customer complaints improved both their wellbeing and job performance.
HBR points to several studies that support the idea that giving workers more choice or control over their work schedules improves their mental health.
“This can involve simply permitting varied starting and stopping times and easier trading of shifts in jobs that must be done on-site,” it says.
Example: HBR cites a work redesign at a Fortune 500 company where IT employees were given control over when and where they did their work but still collaborated with their teammates to ensure needed coordination. The changes resulted in physical and mental health improvements for employees and reduced turnover for the business.
Growing autonomy with technology
NFS Technology are leaders in the field of workplace management software, and CEO Luis De Souza says: “The most forward-thinking workplace leaders are using technology like meeting room management systems and hot desking software to empower employees and create that important sense of autonomy.”
Example: Using a mobile app to book a desk or room for the day removes the stress of finding suitable workspace on a visit the office. Project leaders can use the same tools to book space easily for their team to work together, ensuring great conditions for collaboration.
The overall result is that workplace leaders can ensure seamless days in the office that sooth people’s concerns and objections about coming into the office, helping them manage the tricky intersection between work and life.
Success story: how an international law firm supports hybrid working with technology
Creating conditions where employees can thrive
Technology also helps managers tackle one of the common ESG-related criticisms of hybrid working – that employee engagement can sometimes suffer.
“Putting supportive workplace management technology in place ensures employees get the best value out of every visit to the office, for the organization and for themselves,” said Luis.
“By enabling a seamless employee experience every day, workplace leaders can build an environment where everyone can take full advantage of the contact everyone needs for friendship, mentoring and training – a situation particularly valued by Generation Z.”
Gallup notes that thriving employees who feel well supported and engaged are 32% less likely to actively seek other job opportunities.
The organization says: “Employee engagement opens the door for employee wellbeing. The elements of engagement create trust and address workplace factors like having clear employee expectations and the right materials and equipment, recognition at work, developmental opportunities, and a motivating purpose.
“For job seekers, the importance of wellbeing and work-life balance has become particularly important. In fact, 63% of U.S. workers say that having greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing is very important to them when considering whether to take a job with a different organization.”
The real value of wellness as part of ESG
The real value of wellness as part of ESG
Supporting wellness in the workplace has a real ROI for any company. Surveys show that developing a people-centric hybrid workplace supported by technology pays off in terms of:
- Reduced talent loss and quicker recruitment
- Good employee engagement
- Better collaboration and creativity
- Operational effectiveness
- Increased revenue – Gartner advises that 38% of organizations say that more home and hybrid working has increased their organisation’s productivity and efficiency.
Luis De Souza says: “The world’s workplaces are continuing to develop their own styles and speed of movement towards hybrid working. Leaders eager to fulfil their ESG responsibilities are finding new ways every day to support wellness in their workforce.
“By keeping the golden targets of autonomy, engagement and experience firmly in their sights, and by taking advantage of technological innovation to reach them, they are helping employees to thrive – and helping their organizations to prosper.”