Although these topics are currently front and centre in a lot of people’s minds – the subject has been researched and written about for more than a decade. Perhaps the events of the past eighteen months have made it more relevant for many people.
The dictionary definition of wellbeing is: “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.”
Wellbeing is defined by the World Health Organization as: “wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It’s a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.”
To be concise - it is very personal to you – what do you see as valuable to you or good for you?
It raises all sorts of questions – first one being is it a company’s responsibility to make an employee happy? Or healthy? As wellbeing is so personal to an individual, should the company even be involved? Isn’t it the responsibility of an individual to look after their own wellbeing?
I guess the straight answer is: Yes it is the individual’s responsibility. However, the company has a vested interest in also ensuring that the employee is comfortable, healthy or happy. Not only from a human perspective – ie. Having the interests of the employee at heart, but also from a financial aspect. Wellbeing and engagement are intrinsically linked – the virtuous circle. They are interdependent on each other and the two work in tandem for the best individual and company performance.
Shockingly, a poll carried out by Investors in People (IiP) in 2014 found that 54% of British employees felt that their employer did not care about their wellbeing, which naturally led to them feeling less motivated with at least a third of those polled stating that they had considered searching for a new role as a direct result. (MacLeod & Clarke, 2014)
The knock-on effect of people feeling unmotivated and less engaged in the business has a direct financial impact on a company. Not only through higher absenteeism, but through higher mistakes made on the job and the real disrupter – people leaving and having to be replaced. The knowledge walking out the door is difficult to assign a cost to, but studies have shown that it can cost up to 150% of a leaving person’s salary to replace - hiring, lost days, training, etc.
But what to do to ensure that you have engagement from employees – particularly in the current climate?
From a company perspective trotting out some trite wellbeing package which offers free retail discounts, cinema tickets, coffee, discounted gym membership just might not be enough. Well, let’s face it – it is certainly better than offering nothing but maybe it’s time to really think about this.
Should we really be tailoring wellbeing packages to suit the individual – I know that this could be harder to manage – but could be a game changer for an employee and ultimately the employer.
Companies need to start thinking outside the box as to how they wish to contribute to an employee’s wellbeing – maybe it’s controversial – but support someone if they need weight loss surgery, or having their teeth fixed, or maybe support them with childcare arrangements, sponsor them with time off or the cost of their training apparel or entry fees if they’re sports enthusiasts, donate to their favorite charity or even better hold a fund raiser for them, contribute to specialized food if someone has food intolerances, etc. etc. The list is endless, but I wager if you do, the rewards will be boundless. An energized, happy employee who is engaged, motivated and productive in the workplace.
Sounds like a win/win to me.