The UK’s old Health & Safety Act (1974) by the was updated by The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999). In neither of these laws are there any real calls to action and, in my opinion, they are out of step with what is happening in our workplaces and what is needed to address current issues.
There are some alarming statistics in relation to wellbeing at work. Employees take over 13 million sick days per year as a result of work-related stress, depression and anxiety; and stress costs the British economy almost £4 billion per year.
And yet, despite the clear importance of looking after employee wellbeing, REBA (Reward & Employment Benefits Association) reports that only 8% of boards of directors actively drive their company’s wellbeing policy.
A wellbeing policy can help improve a company’s culture, environment and long-term productivity by supporting employees’ wellbeing.
Let’s look at steps that you can take to develop an effective wellbeing policy for your business.
- Create a wellbeing team
Get people involved and have a collaborative approach. For example, you could have:
- Wellbeing working group: Encourage volunteers from across the organisation to join a working group to design, publicise and monitor wellbeing activities.
- Wellbeing champions: Encourage employees from different part of the business – those with enthusiasm, or a particular skill or sporting talent – to volunteer to organise and deliver parts of the wellbeing programme and sell the ideas to everyone. One volunteers can act as group coordinator.
- Your brand and vision
It is important that your wellbeing policy matches your company brand and vision. Set out what you, as a company, are prepared to offer your employees that shows you are looking after their wellbeing.
3) Who is it for?
For example, some businesses have a younger workforce while others tend to attract older employees. Some businesses have more women or more men. Look at your staff demographic and design a policy to meet their needs.
4) What to include
There is a distinct difference between a Wellbeing Policy and an Occupational Health Policy.
A Wellbeing Policy aims to set out calls to actions for initiatives, activities and events that have a wellbeing focus to engage individuals.
Gather ideas from your wellbeing team and use them to develop the wellbeing policy document. The aim is a clear, concise document, so you’ll need to filter the suggestions and, as a group, decide what stays in.
You may need external help from someone who understands workplace wellbeing. They can help navigate through the ideas and ensure that a coherent policy is created that caters to all employees, and is achievable.
Every Wellbeing Policy should include:
- A short introduction about why caring for wellbeing in the workplace is important and why the business is championing this
- Clear advice on the three key elements to a healthy sustained lifestyle are Sleep, Diet and Exercise.
- A clear description of what the company offers to help care for employee wellbeing. For example, free gym membership, weekly chair massages, a quiet space for relaxation, a commitment to offering a number of Away Days per year to help with employee wellbeing.
Whatever you offer – make sure it is clearly listed in the document and details of how to access the benefit are also included.
- Show how you are going to create a fun, creative, collaborative and social atmosphere at work. Start by simply encouraging talking and then have e.g. a break – out area where people can talk and show their interest in others, what are they working on, outside interests etc.
5) Sanity check
It’s always good to get independent eyes to look over the document, offer advice on any changes or missing elements and to ensure you’re within the law.
Once your policy is in place:
Distribute the wellbeing policy to ALL staff. Then keep wellbeing messages alive with including employee newsletters, payslips, video screens in common areas etc.
Once a year review the policy with your wellbeing team. Did it work over the last 12 months? Who took advantage of the opportunities? Did it cater to all staff needs? What could be improved?How could you expand it over the next 12 months?
Report on wellbeing
Include information about your Wellbeing Policy in your public-reporting, e.g. annual reports and accounts. This demonstrates to employees, potential employees, investors and other stakeholders that you are observing good practice and that this is having a positive effect on the organisation.
A policy that shows you put wellbeing at the heart of the business can help attract customers too.
The Wellbeing policy can be an addition to the employment contract. A good policy gives a competitive edge to attract and retain the best talent – saving on recruitment costs. More and more candidates are looking at the working environment, company culture, and actions around employee initiatives. It would be prudent not to ignore the shift in what attracts candidates today
This is the way the world of business is going and must go.
As Suki Thompson recently wrote in the Sunday Times: “Successful businesses are fundamentally shifting from a time when process, tech and growth/EBIT at any cost were king, to, a culture with purpose, resilience and wellbeing at its heart, where people have become the drivers of sustainable growth and commercial outcomes.” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-wellbeing-needs-balance-sheet-suki-thompson/
Overall, a good wellbeing plan will boost morale, create a more engaged workforce, increase productivity and improve company performance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Wellbeing and Reward activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.