The workplace of the future: employee wellbeing investment

Thanks to COVID-19, 86% of UK employers say they’re going to be investing more in staff wellbeing in future.

Even the big global players are doing this – and it’s easy to see why. FTSE 100 companies that spend more on employee wellbeing have been shown to achieve a 10% higher shareholder return.

So, is this likely to be a trend in the workplace of the future? In some industries, definitely.

But while we think investing in the wellbeing of your team is a must (we offer private health insurance and our staff can ask for mental health days off among other measures), we think there will be a limit – and some industries will reach it sooner than others:

Why are businesses investing in employee wellbeing?

As well as combating the huge cost of absenteeism, businesses around the world are finding it’s actually profitable to invest in employee wellbeing because of:

  1. Improved performance – companies that spend more on staff wellbeing continually outperform the market.
  2. The cost of staff retention – it costs £6000 on average (including recruitment, temp replacements, and lost productivity) to replace a team member who leaves. In an employee-led jobs market like the current one, this is a serious concern to many organisations.
  3. The cost of presenteeism – employees that feel forced to come to work but can’t be fully productive due to exhaustion or their mental health cost the UK economy around £15 billion every year.

Ways corporations are investing in staff well-being

1) Training

This might not feel like it’s top of the list when it comes to employee wellbeing improvements. Yet, just as we find with cybersecurity, the weak link in most companies’ approach to wellbeing is the human one.

Training individual team members to maintain their own wellbeing helps them improve their quality of life. But it also helps them contribute more to your workplace, becoming more:

  • Happy to take the initiative
  • Willing and able to communicate
  • Resilient
  • Likely to want to develop their professional skills
  • Friendly and sociable with their colleagues

It’s even more important to train managers and leaders though. They have so much control over the workplace that a single manager who doesn’t understand how valuable their team’s wellbeing is can derail an entire department or company.

Management wellbeing training has been shown to be more effective than leadership training in delivering better performance too.

2) Business processes

Again, this is far from the “bells and whistles” that many business leaders associate with good employee wellbeing.

It may come as a surprise that improving business processes with team wellbeing in mind is the way many organisations have improved both their company culture and staff performance.

If you want to replicate their success, consider instituting things like:

  • Good, clear processes for delivering helpful feedback
  • One-to-one sessions with managers where listening is prioritised
  • An intention to act on feedback to improve the workplace
  • Performance targets planned with wellbeing in mind
  • The training programs mentioned above – especially for managers and leaders

3) Institute mental health days

Giving your team an easy “out” when they need time to de-stress is proven to work.

Mental health days are a number of extra days off that anyone in your company (including you) can call on when they feel close to getting burned out.

Mental health days are often perceived as an easy fix. But it’s important to understand they’re not a complete solution on their own.

4) Set healthy boundaries and culture

A company culture that creates a workplace that’s highly stressful and quickly burns out employees to the extent they need constant mental health days to recharge needs to be reimagined at the root.

It’s much better – more cost-effective and productive – to change the underlying problem than it is to constantly treat the symptoms:

  • Educate your team on what makes a healthy work-life balance
  • Encourage your team not to work unreasonable hours (and make sure targets don’t essentially demand they do)
  • Make sure no one works after hours or at weekends

5) Make sure your team can get help

Everyone’s mental health is always fluctuating. From week to week – and even day to day – any given team member might be struggling with any number of situations related or unrelated to work.

Making sure your team knows how they can go about getting help and support ensures they can manage something as simple but damaging as tiredness or get actual treatment for something much more serious if they need it.

This treatment may take many forms. And again, what works for one person might not be any use to another.

Yet measures that include everything from subsidising the use of wellness apps like Headspace to simplifying access to personal therapy will no doubt feature among the ways corporations will invest in staff wellbeing in the workplace of the future.

Want to explore the other trends we’re all likely to see in the workplace of the future?

Download our FREE Workplace of the Future PDF.