By Guest Contributor Craig Bulow
In the UK we have a 45-year-old Health & Safety Act, updated in 1999 by The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The update required employers to make arrangements to ensure the health and safety of their employees but in neither law are there any real calls to action.
In my opinion, the legislation out of date and doesn’t really address what is needed and what is happening in our workplaces. A range of alarming statistics back this up, for example, 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, which is eight times the cost of accidents and injuries.
A wellbeing policy can help to improve a company’s culture, environment and long-term productivity by improving the wellbeing of the staff.
So how do you create a company Wellbeing plan?
Find your wellbeing team
- Wellbeing working group: Encourage volunteers from different parts of the organisation to join a working group to design, publicise and monitor wellbeing activities.
- Wellbeing champions: Encourage employees 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 the rest of the organisation. Drawing champions from different parts of the organisation is likely to maximise participation.
- Wellbeing coordinator: Appoint a wellbeing coordinator from the group of wellbeing champions. The wellbeing coordinator is often the individual who has the initial idea and drive for a particular programme. He or she would be responsible for driving the wellbeing strategy and would chair the wellbeing working group.
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.
Take a collaborative approach
Wellbeing is unlikely to improve if employees feel that wellbeing activities are condescending, or if they are suspicious about the organisation’s motives for launching wellbeing activities. So, ensure you take a collaborative approach when developing the wellbeing programme.
Line managers and employees should be involved from the start in the development of policies. This could be as members of a policy-development working group, or through email questionnaires, or brainstorming sessions.
Who is it for?
When designing a policy think about the people within the business – there is no ‘one size fits all’ policy that will work for every business.
For example, some jobs require a lot of manual labour and heavy lifting and virtually no office work, whereas others are almost entirely sedentary. Some businesses have a much younger workforce while others tend to attract older employees. Likewise, some businesses have more women or more men. Look at your staff demographic and design a policy that meets their needs and addresses their challenges.
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 and suggestions 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.
At this stage you may need external help – someone who understands workplace wellbeing and can help navigate through all the ideas and ensure that a coherent, balanced policy is created that caters to all the staff, 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 – so ensure these are covered in the policy document
- Describe clearly what the company offers to help care for employee wellbeing. For example, do you have free gym membership, or a person who comes in once a week to give chair massages, or a quiet space for relaxation? Are you committing to offering a number of Away Days per year to help with employee wellbeing?
Away days put individuals in the moment whilst being present with the people we spend most of our lives with. Being out of the office puts a new perspective on how we see each other as individuals in a non-work way. This encourages openness and understanding and builds stronger relationships.
To be effective, Away Days need to be activities that we would book or experience ourselves, in our own time and happily pay for.
- Are you arranging some wellbeing classes, e.g. on nutrition, or meditation? Do you give paid time off to staff to attend counselling sessions? 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. It can be as simple as just talking to one another to begin with. You can encourage this is by e.g. having a break – out area or collaborative section of the office where talking is encouraged, where people show their interest in others, what are they working on etc.
It’s always good to get an independent set of eyes to look over the document and offer advice on any changes or missing elements and to ensure you are within the law.
Distribute the wellbeing policy to ALL staff. But don’t stop there. The organisation should use the full range of in-house communication media to keep wellbeing messages alive, including employee newsletters, payslips, its intranet and video screens in common areas. Personalised communication can encourage employees to participate in creating the plan and then getting involved in the wellbeing activities that are offered.
Once a year gather your wellbeing team together and review the policy. Did it work over the last 12 months? Who took advantage of the opportunities on offer? Did it cater to all staff needs? Where some people left out? What could be improved? How could you expand it over the next 12 months?
Reporting on wellbeing
Include information about your Wellbeing Policy in your public-reporting, e.g. your 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. If it is good enough, it can be used as a competitive edge to attract and retain the best talent – saving on expensive recruitment costs.
A good wellbeing plan will boost morale, create a more engaged workforce, increase productivity and improve company performance. The added bonus is retaining and attracting the best talent to your business, saving on recruitment costs and reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, stress and anxiety.
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.
Learn more about employee wellbeing
Positive Mental Health
This book aims to build on the current progressive movement around mental health awareness and is in line with current thinking on mental health in the workplace. In this book, the authors provide employees with a resource to develop greater mental health in the workplace and provide employers with a resource to develop greater wellbeing amongst their employees therefore increasing quality, performance, productivity and overall business effectiveness.
Positive Male Mind
Mental health problems affect both men and women, in fact, every one in four of us. However, it has been widely accepted for some time that men are much less likely to seek help from a doctor or mental health specialist, as they traditionally expect themselves to be competitive and successful, tough and self-reliant and can find it difficult to admit that they are feeling fragile and vulnerable.
The Conscious Effect
As we face the 4th industrial revolution, wellbeing in the workplace will make or break businesses. Natasha Wallace has taken insights from neuroscience, behavioural science and evidence-based practices to show what wellbeing means from a holistic perspective. The Conscious Effect gets under the skin of the human behaviour and mindset needed to stay well and work well. The book focuses on instigating wellbeing strategy and the empowering and powerful effect wellbeing can have on the individual, teams and an organisation as a whole.
The Strengths Workbook
Discover what you are good at and how to nurture that strength can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. The Strengths Workbook is an eight-week discovery programme to help you identify your strengths to help you thrive in all areas of your life: studies, work, relationships, parenting, teaching, retirement.
Neil Francis had a significant stroke at the age of 41 and has used this life-changing experience to shape his life and career in a positive way. Positive Thinking is based on academic and scientific evidence that demonstrates how practising the common conception of positive thinking can actually be bad for you and redefines positive thinking in an easily digestible and concise format suitable for all audiences.
Comments are closed