Wellbeing…the cost of your organisational culture?

As you know I am passionate about the importance of a person’s wellbeing, how that in turn impacts on a person’s confidence, happiness, positivity, productivity, output and effectiveness.

I have been promoting its importance for more than a decade and have significant experience working with hundreds of clients, public sector organizations, private SMEs and large PLCs.

Interestingly this topic has raised its profile this month with the publication of the research report, Best Practice in promoting Employee Health and Wellbeing in the City of London and Oli Husemeyer, Google’s international benefits project manager, speech about how the organisation tackles wellbeing.

 

March 2014, sees the launch of the research report, Best Practice in promoting Employee Health and Wellbeing in the City of London.

The report, which focuses on best practice in promoting employee physical and mental health, prepared by the University of Salford and Cavill Associates, was introduced and debated by senior corporate and public sector figures including Alderman Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of the City of London; Professor Dame Carol Black, expert adviser to DoH; Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England; and health expert Sir Stephen O’Brien CBE.

Dame Carol Black told attendees that “productivity is at stake if companies ignore workplace health related issues. It is also essential for this programme to be integrated with the business strategy as it will never be successful as an add-on…”

Professor Stephen Bevan from the Work Foundation told attendees it was all about the work life balance. He said this was achieved through prioritising prevention and early managerial intervention. 

The Best Practice in promoting Employee Health and Wellbeing in the City of London states that ‘evidence suggests that a healthy workforce is more productive and has lower turnover. The need to prioritise employee health and wellbeing is a key consideration that benefits both individuals and businesses and the wider economy…Poor health in the workplace is estimated to cost the British economy over £100 billion annually through sickness absence and wordlessness ..An estimate for 2012 by the Confederation of British Industry is higher at 160 million working days lost. Clearly, the high cost of sickness absence means that employee health is an important issue for business and the UK economy, as well as at an individual level.”

“…Companies are increasingly interested in workplace health. There is a compelling body of evidence that successful companies tend to have healthy, productive workforces, and employers have a vested interest in reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity by improving the health of their employees. Employers increasingly recognise that investing in the health of their staff makes good business sense…A large number of organisations identified that the health and wellbeing agenda is crucial to their business, particularly in terms of retaining their competitive edge; employee retention; attracting ‘top talent’; and winning external tenders.”

 

Oli Husemeyer, Google’s international benefits project manager, has spoken about how the organisation tackles wellbeing.

Google’s approach is, as you would expect, incredibly ambitious — to have the healthiest and happiest workers on the planet. This ambition may not be attainable for most organisations, but for many, health and wellbeing is little more than a health and safety or risk management issue. I believe all organisations would benefit from raising their ambitions around health and wellbeing and having a proactive approach to wellbeing.

As JFK was reputed to have said  “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Google recognises that improvement in employee wellbeing can’t be achieved without investment and so puts serious money into wellbeing support.

Google doesn’t just focus on physical wellbeing, mental and emotional wellbeing are key areas of importance. These are areas that are still relatively overlooked by many organisations. This is despite the fact that stress is cited as a major cause of sickness absence by employers. When staff are absent from work due to stress, their absence periods are generally significantly longer than other types of absences.

Google’s approach recognises that stress is a result of poor emotional and mental wellbeing. Proactive organisations recognise that simply providing an employee assistance programme (EAP) helpline isn’t enough and need to further support employees.

Google has a proactive approach to wellbeing and building resilience. A particular problem with many wellbeing programmes is that they focus on remedies when the problem has already occurred . When it comes to health and wellbeing, actions taken before the event definitely do pay dividends later. The key is proactivity. Those organisations that look after their people, proactively, will always be at the front of the queue when it comes to attracting top talent.

Oli Husemeyer, said that helping employees build emotional resilience, supporting them during key life challenges, and making sure managers have the resources to support employees, are key to the organisation’s vision of making its staff the healthiest and happiest on the planet. “Building resilience helps employees to be able to cope with stress,” she explained… “Resilience is key to being able to bounce back. It is much better to deal with stress proactively before it has a negative effect.”  “Work-life balance issues are endemic to corporate life,” “Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own work-life balance.”

 

When working at Barclays one of my roles was that of Performance Managers. We were tasked with a Wellbeing Programme, to improve the performance and retention of staff. Many wellbeing initiatives were implemented within the contact centre including lifestyle coaching and personal development workshops for management and staff. 

The contact centre applied for several awards and amongst their success was European Call Centre of the Year in the Culture category. As part of that application, the Call Centre submitted a document- “the cost of our culture – how to save £1M per annum”, explaining how the investment in the staff actually saved the business money.

Here is our testimonial regarding the work we delivered within the contact centre:

“Embedding a positive culture within any business requires hard work and time. Rachel and Sarah have embraced the spectrum of initiatives on offer at Barclays to drive and generate a “Well Being” environment that underpins our people and ultimately drives our business success. Within the Contact Centre we have a diverse workforce but every individual is able to find a menu of support to enhance their personal development through coaching and training, whilst benefiting from a totally supportive environment that takes the stress and “hum-drum” out of working.

Rachel and Sarah are ambassadors for flexible working; they generate a work-life balance culture that has delivered people success and external recognition across a 650-strong workforce. The business benefits have been fantastic. Lower attrition and absence have underpinned high customer satisfaction, service levels and lead to a lower cost platform year on year. We continue to build on our well-being initiatives as a business and receive numerous enquiries about the business benefits that others seek to drive in the external marketplace”.                                                                                            Rob Hawthorn, Offshore Director, Barclays Bank PLC

 

 

Our Wellbeing Programme consists of bespoke consultancy, training and coaching to meet the specific needs of an organization. Please see my websites for more information, including:

 

  • Health and Wellbeing strategy and policy implementation
  • Stress management training for managers
  • Stress management workshops for staff
  • Resilience training for managers and staff
  • Personal development skills, including time management, assertiveness, positive mental health and relaxation training
  • Lifestyle coaching (see separate blog)

 

I welcome the opportunity to discuss how I can support you, your staff and organization through wellbeing initiatives.

Wishing you well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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