We all have different goals, ambitions, and passions through life. Beneath these differences all human beings undoubtedly seek a singular purpose: happiness. It then becomes a matter of concern if we are not happy at the workplace; a space where we spend most of our time.
With the coming of covid-19, there has been a revolution in wellbeing in the workplace. Employers are looking to support employees through issues like burnout, stress, anxiety, and depression. Yet, employee mental wellbeing continues to be a matter of concern at the workplace.
These are the findings of a recent survey by American-British consultancy WTW, that asked 300+ U.S. employers with 100 or more employees about their expectations for this year:
- 86 percent of employers said mental health, stress and burnout were still a priority
- 49 percent, however, had not formally articulated a workplace strategy for wellbeing
As an organization, you might be struggling to properly define your mental wellbeing program, or you are not seeing results with the plan you already have in place. Perhaps you are unsure if your efforts to improve wellbeing in the workplace benefit your staff?
In this article, we provide insights that will help you make mental wellbeing a sustainable culture in your organization along with tips to improve and measure any workplace strategies for wellbeing you already have in place.
What is wellbeing in the workplace?
For Peter Richter, chief psychologist at Howdy, the definition of good wellbeing in the workplace is succeeding at one’s job with a sense of positive fulfilment.
“This means that employees should feel their work makes a positive difference to their company and they take pride in the work they do,” says Richter. “All without a sense of worry or guilt.”
This is only possible when employees feel the demands on them are balanced. This means the work is not too simplistic or continuously overwhelming but enough to keep employees engaged and challenged.
What is the key to wellbeing in the workplace?
Human beings are uniquely different in their needs and desires. The key to wellbeing is often that employers are mindful of these differences.
Let us talk about some wellbeing examples:
Since the pandemic, hybrid work continues to be preferable for many professionals. It allows flexibility in work schedules, cuts down on commuting hours and allows more quality time to be spent with one’s family and friends. Yet a recent report by the World Economic Forum reveals that for women, hybrid work causes more stress, where they feel “shut out” from important meetings and decisions in their organization.
Similarly, depending on your employees’ personality type they may prefer a structured workday where their tasks are clearly laid out for them. While others may thrive in an environment where they have the freedom to work at their own pace.
“You need to treat people equally but also differently,” says Richter. As the meaning of wellbeing differs for each individual.
Other keystones to wellbeing in the workplace include appreciation, critical feedback, collaboration, and communication between employers and employees to fulfil their respective roles.
“Trust is also an important element for wellbeing,” says Richter. “It entails colleagues not only trust each other to perform tasks given to them but also trust each other to show up in hard times.”
How can you improve wellbeing in the workplace?
In the Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z survey respondents said that they experienced increased stress and anxiety at work but remained hesitant to vocalize these challenges – around 6 in 10 did not inform their manager how they were feeling.
“I think the biggest gap in workplace wellbeing is open and honest dialogue between colleagues,” says Richter. “Where everyone speaks their mind without fear; knowing that the management will help you with whatever it is that they [employees] are struggling with. There needs to be this sense of psychological safety.”
As an organization, you might invest in the health and wellbeing of your staff through mindfulness apps, mental health days, and surveys. Yet result-oriented and sustainable wellbeing can only occur, when there is real cultural change. This means initiating conversations that challenge the stigma around mental health.
This needs to begin with managers and leaders taking the onus of shifting prejudiced belief systems around mental health in their organizations.
Why wellbeing at work is important?
“From a human perspective, wellbeing is important because we only have one life,” says Richter. “So, it should be a good one.”
The EU is also taking steps towards shifting to a ‘wellbeing economy’ – where public interests determine economics and not the other way around. Rather than pursuing economic growth through narrowly defined indicators such as GDP, a wellbeing economy monitors and values what truly matters: our health, nature, education, and communities.
According to the WHO, the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is USD 1 trillion annually in lost productivity.
When stressed your employees will take more time to complete tasks, slack on business, and are likely to make more mistakes and produce low-quality work. Moreover, increased sick leaves and new talent recruitment are all additional costs to companies where health and mental wellbeing is not prioritized.
Happy employees who feel supported by their management, are far more focused at work and willing to work harder for their organizations.
How do you measure wellbeing in the workplace?
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
This famous business maxim applies to wellbeing in the workplace as much as it does to sales and other growth goals of your company.
For Richter, the top two tangible indicators of wellbeing at workplace are fewer sick leaves and high retention in management positions.
If your organization does not see a positive outcome in these metrics, your employees may be unable to communicate their mental health concerns to you.
A survey last year at Joblist found the average time remote employees went without speaking to their managers was 6.1 days and co-workers 5.4 days – which is considered quite lengthy.
The survey also pointed out remote employees who felt unseen were more likely to experience feelings of burnout, imposter syndrome — which translates to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt — and loneliness.
Though we understand it can be challenging to single-handedly manage the health and wellbeing logistics of your entire workforce, at Howdy we want to support your organization’s wellbeing in the workplace in the long run. Through a suite of mental wellbeing benefits, our AI algorithms initiate digital screenings that identify employees in need of help and provide invaluable support, which helps to improve the happiness of your employees. Check out our wellbeing plans.
Article written by Payal Mohta – Journalist