How your business’s culture can impact employee wellbeing

Every business has a culture. It stems from the company’s values and attitudes and is reinforced by your most senior employees. The culture affects everything in your business and it becomes a blueprint for your employees of what’s expected and appropriate. Perhaps your culture embraces working from home or it rewards presenteeism. Whatever the culture, the way it is structured has a major impact on the wellbeing of your employees.

At Benenden, we believe the wellbeing of your employees is crucial. By creating a culture where employees feel valued, an organisation can often see improvements in productivity, innovation, financial performance, and reductions in absence and staff turnover.

By contrast, at organisations with a culture where employees feel disrespected, ignored and undervalued, they are more likely to be demotivated, dissatisfied and looking for somewhere new to work.

Here are some of the main issues you can focus on to cultivate a positive culture and a happy workforce:

  • Make your employees feel valued

An employee that feels valued is more motivated to perform to a high standard for an employer.

One very simple but effective way you can make your employees feel valued is to listen to them. Ask them for their opinions, take on board their suggestions and solicit their advice where appropriate. For this to be genuine, you have to be prepared to act on their suggestions as well. Once employees recognise their opinion matters – and start to see relevant change – they will feel more valued. Actively breaking that cone of silence, many cultures have, with regards to raising complaints can have a small yet effective change in cultural thinking. This will increase the wellbeing of your employees as their concerns will be validated and you can work together to devise solutions that benefit both employer and employee.

See our article on increasing employee happiness to find more ways a business can improve the value its employees feel.

  • Ensure a good work/ life balance

Employees who feel they achieve a good work/life balance are 31% happier at work. And happier employees tend to be more efficient, productive and motivated.

While ensuring such a balance isn’t the sole responsibility of employers, you can do a lot to help by establishing supportive policies and realistic expectations such as:

– Encouraging employees to take their lunchbreak, rather than eating a sandwich at their desks
– Flexible working options (e.g. compressed hours, job sharing, remote working)
– Paid time off policies
– Encouraging employees to leave on time regularly

Of course it’s worth remembering that what equals a good work/ life balance for one employee is not necessary right for another. Employees are individual and your approach must be too.  Find out more about improving employee work/ life balance here.

  • Wellness benefits and programme

Building a culture where employees are encouraged to make their health a priority – through taking time off or discussing their health issues – could also improve employee wellbeing.

You could take action to help improve the health of your employees by offering an option of health and wellbeing services that suit you and your employees. Benenden offer a range of affordable employee health and wellbeing services including Health Assessments, Healthcare and Cash Plans, which have been developed to provide support to your employees before, during and after health issues might occur. By helping to identify potential health risks and providing actionable plans and health care to reduce those risks, you can leave your employees feeling more in control of their health and valued by their employer.

Another way to promote health is to encourage regular exercise. There are a number of ways to do this, including offering on-site access to yoga classes or discounts for local gym memberships. For more suggestions read our article on encouraging exercise during the working day. Even discounted membership to healthy food services, to make healthy eating at lunchtime easier, will go a long way to improving employee wellbeing.

Mental health is often neglected in favour of physical health, yet it is just as important. You can demonstrate this understanding by providing a wellness programme which provides access to psychological help.

Currently around only 41% of individuals that enter treatment for depression, anxiety and other psychological concerns actually complete treatment plans put in place.  Additional support from employers will help remove the stigma attached to mental wellbeing and improve the success of the treatment. Read our findings from our recent research on managing Mental Health in the Workplace for more information on supporting employee psychological wellbeing.

  • The Physical Work Environment

Over half a million people in the UK suffering from a musculoskeletal disorder think it was either caused or worsened by work. The 2016 Health and Safety Executive report found 214,000 total cases of back disorders amongst employees nationwide which translated to over 3.4 million working days lost because of back issues. Bad backs are frustratingly common but you can help your employees avoid lower back pain by paying attention to the ergonomics of your office.

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Standing desks, appropriate lighting and temperatures, and even ergonomic items such as lumbar supports and foot supports can all improve the physical wellbeing of your employees, as well as showing the employee the values their physical health. Our article managing employee back pain provides more tips on helping to improve employee back pain.

Just a few changes can shift your business culture and make it one that genuinely cares about the health and wellbeing of your workforce. So why not use some of these ideas to inspire change and let us know how you get on LinkedIn and Twitter using #workculture.