In today’s always switched-on and stressful working environment, it is rather easy to get caught up on the endless to-do lists and not take that step back to re-organise your thoughts and focus on individual wellbeing. Employees are the most valuable asset that any business has and it is imperative that they feel supported and engaged in their job functions if they, and the business, are to succeed.
Research conducted at the end of 2014 by MetLife Employee Benefits revealed that 57 percent of respondents found their job stressful on a day-to-day basis, with 48 percent seeing their stress levels increasing within a year. As a result almost two-fifths had considered quitting their jobs.
At the end of June the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) made recommendations and published guidance, which have been backed by the NHS, to support employers in creating healthy workplaces which will boost productivity. The guidelines placed a substantial onus on senior management to maintain a positive and healthy workplace and lead by example.
So what measures and initiatives could organisations implement in order to support staff and have a positive effect on their individual wellbeing? And what benefits will businesses gain from these initiatives?
Supporting employees with internal wellbeing schemes
The importance of nurturing staff and retaining talent has led to an increased focus on the need to balance work vs. wellness. Wellbeing includes but is not limited to providing employees with a health benefits package. Employee wellness must incorporate three elements: physical, mental and emotional support.
This could manifest in the form of a fitness centre, internal classes of restorative activities such as yoga or meditation, providing healthy food options through to ensuring there is enough natural light in the office and someone on hand to discuss any issues or concerns with.
But as is the case with any new scheme within an organisation, they can be met with scepticism by employees with not an immediately high take-up. It is for this reason that employers must take the lead and be responsible for their employees’ wellbeing. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of their staff and, as indicated by NICE, managers and directors must be seen to be leading these initiatives from ‘top down’. They need to be integrated right into the heart of the organisation’s structure so that support across the business – from management, to IT, to HR – can be seen. By helping staff in embracing these schemes, they have been proven to lead to greater success rates across the globe – as we have seen first-hand.
At Tech Mahindra we take the wellness of our employees, stakeholders and customers very seriously and believe that wellness comes before business. As a global organisation it could have been difficult to set up a wellness scheme that reached all employees and met their needs. After all, the schemes need to be accessible for it to be successful. However, throughout the years we have developed a ‘Wealth of Wellness’ (WoW) scheme and portal.
We have transitioned from providing health offerings on a needs basis to offering a wide array of wellness programs with leadership buy-in and messaging, infrastructure and wellness policies and practices converging to fulfil our goals. For example, at some of our large office sites we have gyms and indoor games facilities with instructors and an online portal which contains not only tools such as a BMI calculator but also articles and videos on nutrition, possible syndromes, benefits of various practices such as Yoga.
Research from Aon Hewitt showed that 25 percent of US companies have now launched stress reduction initiatives – and one recent study on a company initiative found that stress levels in employees reduced by a third after one hour of yoga a week. The benefits of yoga in particular are invaluable to organisations as they look for ways to support their staff and find the balance between work and well being. The resulting positive impact of these initiatives, amongst others, includes greater employee productivity, engagement and decision making.
On 21st June it was the International Day of Yoga and as part of this celebration there was a day of yoga activities and classes held on the South Bank in London. In supporting this initiative, we organised a series of yoga sessions for all employees and are continuing to offer special sessions at our customer sites to globally promote the message stating the importance of a healthy body and mind.
Reaping the business benefits
Whilst on the surface wellness programs may seem to primarily benefit the employee, the business could also reap a multitude of benefits. Fit and healthy employees not only handle stress more effectively but also have higher levels of productivity and can work through the decision making process more efficiently. This leads to increased sales and customer satisfaction, all while the employee is feeling motivated and engaged in their job function and within the organisation. This then reduces the risk of the employee leaving the business, resulting in higher talent retention and potentially less recruitment costs. Also a healthy body and a conditioned mind enables better concentration and therefore relevant outcomes.
By having a healthy and engaged workforce, organisations could expect to see a reduction in absenteeism and healthcare costs – a 2014 Harvard Business Review study found that out of 20 companies analysed, the average annual health care cost increased by just one or two percent for companies with wellness programmes, compared to the national average of seven percent. There are demonstrable improvements in positivity, productivity and loyalty to the company. The Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey states that 26 percent miss fewer days of work and 40 percent of employees say they want to work harder and perform better following the participation in wellness initiatives and programs. There would also be a decrease in associated healthcare costs.
Ultimately, all businesses – whether they are an SME or a multinational – should look at the measures they currently have in place to support employee wellness. Employers have a responsibility to provide employees with support, guidance and the ability to relieve some of the stress they feel from their jobs. Employees are at the heart of any organisation and keep the cogs turning on a day-to-day basis. By demonstrating that you care about their individual wellbeing they will perform better in their job roles. After all, a happy employee equals a productive employee.