Three quarters of HR directors (75%) predict that employee wellness will be formally measured and reported on by 2018, according to the Flux Report by talent management specialist Right Management. This represents a significant shift in organisational attitudes, as currently as many as four in ten senior HR directors regard wellness activity as an ‘employee perk’ rather than a necessary business investment.
In the report, 60% of HR directors identified employee wellness and resilience as core to enabling organisations to achieve their strategic objectives. In fact, one in two (53%) said that employees’ ability to deal with unanticipated problems is the key attribute for future business success. Despite this, 72% of line managers stated that their organisation could be doing more to protect them from or help them to manage periods of persistent stress.
Jayne Carrington, Managing Director of Right Management Workplace Wellness comments: “Organisations cannot afford to have an unwell, unproductive and overwhelmed workforce. If the flux of the last five years has taught us anything, it’s that resilience is a key attribute both for individuals and organisations. However employees shouldn’t be expected to make this journey on their own. Their employer has a responsibility to ensure that they have the right support structures in place to be able to manage stress and perform well. Resilience must be led from the top down if it is to be successful. Business leaders need to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ and ensure that this attitude trickles down to every level of the business.”
There is a steep learning curve ahead for many businesses but some have already taken steps to prepare for a future characterised by flux with almost half of organisations (49%) introducing improved flexible working arrangements. Other initiatives include increased internal communication from leadership to maintain morale (42%) and promotions but with minimal pay rises (36%).
While these are positive steps, Right Management’s Flux Report also indicates that businesses may struggle to build resilience measures for a multi-generational workforce. It found that people in their 30s are perceived to be best equipped to deal with changes at work, whilst those in their 50s and 60s were considered least able to cope. In fact, 91% of HR decision-makers thought it was likely that by 2018, people will be recruited on their ability to deal with change and uncertainty, raising a question mark over many organisation’s support structures for older workers.
Carrington concludes: “While it might be desirable to hire someone on the strength of their ability to be resilient and agile, employers need to appreciate that everyone has a potential to be resilient, efficient, productive and happy at work with the right structures and support. With an ageing population, it’s essential that businesses recognise that people deal differently with change and consider a range of measures to help their staff, regardless of what stage of life they are at.”
Right Management has the following advice for organisations looking to boost their resilience in a future defined by flux:
- Increase Change Readiness / Capacity: Businesses need to recognise that an employee’s needs and priorities change over time and that people deal with change in different ways, at different times in their life. With an ageing workforce, organisations need to pay particular attention to how they engage with older workers and help them adapt to ever changing business needs. Initiatives such as mentoring schemes can help to link older workers back into the business in a meaningful way while preparing high potential individuals for their next step.
- Boost Employee Engagement: Employee engagement is a key driver of organisational effectiveness and workforce performance but it can only be effective if the levels of engagement are identified and measured against a clear benchmark. Similarly, organisations can measure the wellness of their workforce by quantifying the collective wellbeing and engagement of employees and correlating the findings to key indices of productivity in the workplace. This allows leaders to make accurate and informed decisions about the kind of interventions which are most likely to lead to increases in productivity and other organisational performance measures.
- Introduce Wellbeing Programmes: Early intervention matters – organisations that spend more time promoting wellbeing and resilience will see an upturn in performance, engagement and productivity. Using specific data gathering and measurement throughout the year, it’s possible to measure the impact of wellbeing programmes. In fact, when done well, wellbeing programmes can see an 80% improvement in performance. Organisations that make a commitment to employee wellbeing can also expect a similar intangible return in areas such as psychological contract, improved sense of wellbeing, resilience and enhanced positive regard for the employer.
Natalia Obolensky, Co-Founder of the BBureau comments: “Many organisations fear that the implementation of a wellbeing programme will be time-consuming and expensive. Yet there are small, low cost changes that organisations can make, such as encouraging healthy 15 minute breaks during the day, and providing easy access to stress-reducing activities such as yoga or massage. Indeed, our research suggests that at companies who offer this type of wellbeing benefit, 70% of employees report a reduction in the stress of their professional lives.”