The Evolution of Employee Wellbeing: HR Solutions Australia
Not surprisingly, employee wellbeing has significantly evolved in the last year and that evolution was expediated by the pandemic. Whist adapting to changing times and remote work becoming the most prevalent way of working at the peak of the pandemic, the line between work and life was blurred for employees and employers alike. This created a necessity for organisations to prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health. Underpinned by this increased need for flexibility on where, when, and how work was completed, organisations could no longer rely on employee wellbeing being solely about physical health. Instead, a drastic shift was required to be more holistic and hence incorporating physical, mental health, financial, social, community, and purpose as part of revised wellbeing programs. Undeniably, healthy employees are more energised and able to achieve more productive working days. Since the pandemic, the range of wellbeing solutions has rapidly grown, and a HR solutions provider in Australia can help narrow down the most appropriate options for your workforce.
Below are the six (6) pillars of employee wellbeing –
As far as initiatives are concerned, physical wellbeing has been around for quite some time now and is best known for initiatives such as exercise, sleep, overall lifestyle, and food choices. Physical wellbeing focuses on enhancing someone’s ability to get the most out of their daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. In simple terms, it involves taking good care of our bodies and understanding that both our daily habits and behaviours play a significant role in overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Some of the most common physical wellbeing initiatives include subsidised gym memberships, walking meetings, ergonomic workspaces, simple stretches, and eating tips as examples. However, as stated earlier employee wellbeing is a lot more complex and organisations need to shift their focus on all six (6) pillars of employee wellbeing to have the desired impact.
2. Mental Health
There are many benefits to supporting the mental health of employees and lately the belief whether mental health should be considered as part of an employer’s ethical responsibility to provide a safe, supportive, and respectful environment has been brought into questioning. The Black Dog Institute, reports that one in six Australian workers are experiencing a mental illness and that poor mental health at work is estimated to cost the Australian economy over $12billion a year. If these reasons weren’t compelling enough to rethink and reengineer our approach to mental health, then the fact that productivity, innovation, and employee engagement are directly linked to mental health in the workplace ought to do the trick.
Furthermore, supporting mental health, typically results in shorter periods of sick leave and presenteeism. Since the pandemic, mental health has been in the spotlight and budgets for mental and emotional wellbeing significantly increased. Most importantly, it raises the question of whether organisations know how to put these funds to good use or is cash being splashed around with no real improvements. Fortunately, there are simple steps an organisation can take to create a mentally healthy workplace. We will only highlight these steps in this article – fostering an open and accepting culture, leading by example, training your leaders, organising mental health sessions, providing an employee assistance program, facilitating open and transparent communication, promoting work-life balance, and providing practical support. If you want more detailed information on these steps, keep a lookout for our upcoming blog on mental health or contact a HR solutions provider in Australia.
A recent survey undertaken by PwC in 2021 found that finances were the biggest cause of employee stress, and the pandemic has aggravated the situation for employees due to reduced working hours. Financial stress can be a source of distraction for employees and hinder productivity. Furthermore, employees are more likely to search for new employment if they believed that a prospective employer would care more about their financial wellbeing. Financial stress not only has a detrimental effect on an employee’s health, but also impacts business performance. Once again there are simple solutions that employers can implement including providing financial education to simplify complex financial issues into an understandable and actionable plan for employees. Employers should continuously work on destigmatising conversations about finances and provide practical contingencies for worse case ‘what if’ scenarios by helping employees budget for such eventualities.
Organisations should also foster a culture where it’s ok to discuss financial wellbeing and whereby their leaders are trained on how to have open conversations about salaries and raises. Lastly, it is important to create equal opportunities for success and promote from within where possible. For instance, ensure that there aren’t any company-wide discrepancies with salaries and benchmark your remuneration packages yearly to avoid being out of touch with market rates. If you have employees who need support or are unsure of how to assist them, be sure to contact a HR solutions provider in Australia for advice.
Social wellbeing within the workplace refers to the sense of belonging an employee feels at work. There are different elements to social wellbeing including relationships with colleagues, sense of value as an employee, and alignment to company values, mission, and vision. The greater the sense of belonging, the greater the levels of engagement and productivity will be. Therefore, it is crucial for employers to create a culture that facilitates social interactions and inclusiveness. To promote social wellbeing, employers can host events or activities that allow employees to socialise without a financial cost being incurred by the employees. Additionally, providing employees paid days off to volunteer for a charity of their choosing is also a good choice. Another great way to boost social wellbeing is by encouraging employees to organise special interest groups such as reading, running, photography or Netflix groups. Remember that every workforce and organisation is different, so choose the initiatives best suited to you and your teams.
Being part of a community and having that connection promotes a sense of belonging and social connectedness. In turn, this creates an added sense of purpose for employees in their everyday lives. According to Head to Health, one-third of Australian adults are not involved in any social or community groups. Therefore, there is a big opportunity for employers and HR solutions providers to create links between employees and social or community groups. Community wellbeing is important as it can help build resilience and in times of crisis or change, that group of people can support each other through it.
There are different ways to get employees involved in the local community, a first step would be to review what activities are taking place in your local centres and sharing what’s relevant with employees. There might be volunteering opportunities, music and arts festivals, performances by a local dance troupe, or a special presentation such as an outdoor movie. Alternatively, if time is an issue, then create a donation drive for books to area libraries, food to local food banks, bed linen for homeless shelters, or clothes for the Salvation Army. Employees may also want to join groups/classes such as walking, running, or reading groups. There are so many ways to get involved with the community and it will help your employees feel a sense of belonging and connectedness which will, in turn, help their wellbeing. If you require assistance contact a HR solutions provider in Australia.
Providing purpose to employees is a good way for employers to motivate their employees and keep them productive. Creating a sense of purpose can be achieved through meaningful projects, activities or relationships at work. Generally, people who have high sense of purpose tend to live meaningful lives with fewer health problems and overall healthier lifestyles. Whereas a low sense of purpose, leads to feeling stuck or stagnant and a feeling of dissatisfaction can be common.
Nowadays, employees are increasingly wanting to work for organisations that share the same values as them and give this criterion a lot of importance when seeking a new role. Furthermore, employees want to feel that they are achieving in life, and in doing so, it helps keep them moving in a positive direction. Achievement provides employees with motivation and a feeling of content. A good way to foster a sense of purpose is by connecting employees to something that is important to them, find out what interest your employees, and enable them to work on it. Lastly, engaging with others can provide a sense of usefulness and importance, so empower employees to collaborate in groups on meaningful projects and it will help increase sense of purpose.
Remember that employee wellbeing has evolved a lot over the years and is no more purely about physical wellbeing. Current employees and prospective employees place an increased level of importance on how organisations approach employee wellbeing. Therefore, ensure that your organisation takes a holistic approach to it and if you require assistance contact a HR solutions provider in Australia.