How to improve employee wellbeing
In the workplace, it’s easy to focus heavily on things like revenue and performance and forget the importance of employee wellbeing. But if your staff are feeling down, it’s only natural that their work – and therefore your business’s performance – will be affected. So what can be done to improve employee wellbeing and drive productivity within the workforce?
How can managers support employee wellbeing?
One thing that is especially important to be aware of is that you can’t control everything. Whether you’re an intermediary manager or the manager of a whole company, some things are inevitably outside of your remit – and that’s okay. For example, if an employee is having problems at home, you can’t necessarily fix things for them. However, there is usually at least one way you can help – by being supportive, understanding and accommodating. Below, we look at ways you can achieve this to support employee wellbeing in trying times.
Flexibility in the workplace has long been a topic of discussion, as many employees value a degree of flexibility in their working lives. This can come in various forms – some companies offer the option for remote or hybrid working, while others offer flexible working hours. Naturally, some industries are better suited to flexible working than others, but it’s up to you as a manager to think of ways you can offer adaptability to your employees. Here are some ideas of how that could work:
- Allowing employees to choose what tasks they work on and when, excluding time-sensitive work (as long as deadlines are met, of course)
- Giving employees the opportunity to take time off for regular commitments (such as picking the kids up from school or performing carer duties for loved ones) and make the time up later
- Asking your employees what type of training they’d like to receive (thereby giving them autonomy and improving their ability to do more complex tasks without having to wait for a supervisor to be free)
- Accommodating specific personal needs and preferences such as allowing lumbar cushions, non-lactose milk options in the workplace fridge or using headphones to concentrate on tasks
As you can see, flexibility can come in many different forms. But it’s important to remember that the ways you provide flexibility should align as much as possible with the things your employees are asking for – so be prepared to ask for feedback!
Another important factor in employee wellbeing is workload. No one likes being so busy they can’t find time to take a break, but this isn’t the only workflow problem that can arise. In small businesses, initial recruitment usually focuses on all-rounders who can take on a variety of tasks. These tasks would usually sit with different departments. This saves money, but it’s not always the best option for your employees.
As well as checking in to make sure your employees have the hours available to complete all their work, it’s also a good idea to discuss which tasks they find fulfilling and which they don’t. Chances are, these tasks are good candidates for business process outsourcing – meaning you can outsource the work to people with the proper skills and training to do it. This can result in a higher standard of work, but it can also free up time for your employees to do the things they excel at. Consider outsourcing call handling or other vital tasks such as bookkeeping, admin or marketing.
Sometimes, your employees may need help and support you’re not qualified to give. For example, if an employee is dealing with a recent bereavement, flexible working might not be enough. In situations such as this one, it’s your job to assist your employee in connecting with the people who can help.
Here’s what this might look like:
- Helping them to access occupational therapy or counselling services
- Getting in touch with the human resources department on their behalf
- Flagging which colleagues might have the expertise to assist with specific problems
But signposting doesn’t have to revolve around the internal assistance that can be provided. You can also help to educate your employees on what help is available from other organisations. This could be as simple as directing them towards helpful websites, videos or resources online.
Finally, one of the best and simplest ways to support your employees’ wellbeing is to communicate clearly and foster that habit in your team. Here are some ways you can put this into practice:
- Give advance notice where possible if things are going to change
- Make sure your team knows you’re always available to talk if they have questions or concerns
- Create a safe space within the workplace where your employees know they can trust you
And don’t forget to think about what you’re saying as well as how you’re saying it. People thrive on praise, so make sure you give recognition when your employees do their job well. Without doing so intentionally, it’s easy to find yourself only praising exceptional performance. However, showing your appreciation for everyday good work is just as important, if not more so.