Your employees need you! 4 ways to support their wellbeing

Wellbeing; the buzzword on the mind of every employer in 2018. We all know from the multitude of articles on the subject that offering a wellbeing programme is all about providing benefits and services to maximise your employees’ mental, physical and financial health. Yet a lot of employers forget to think about their strategy holistically. Even though those employers who do are reaping the rewards. In fact, our latest research* found that 35% of employers offering a holistic wellbeing programme are very effective at offering the benefits their employees actually want.

So, how can you make sure the benefits you offer your employees are supporting their wellbeing? Well, it starts with your number one customer – your employee. Before creating a strategy you need to understand the four wellbeing stages your employees fit into, and how you can support them at each stage.

Your well employees are those that are in work, and working to their full potential. They are highly productive and have a low absence rate.

There is a common misconception that you don’t need to look after your well employees. Actually, it is essential for these employees to maintain their health so they’re not at risk of becoming unwell.

Offer ways to help them stay fit and mentally resilient. For example, provide workout clubs and free fruit in the office, or encourage the use of fitness tracking apps. Alongside this, take the time to recognise their wellbeing efforts. By creating a points-based recognition system based on activity levels, you can reward your employees with an extra day of annual leave or a donation to a charity of their choice.

Remember your employees should be in the driving seat so get them to take control of their own wellbeing. Do this by educating them about the state of their own health and prompt them to create their own goals.

If you’re sitting on data about your employees’ wellbeing, make use of it! If you offer yearly health assessments, your employees’ results will give you the most accurate insights into how to support them going forward. In fact, our research* found that organisations using analytics are twice as likely to be successful in impacting their employees’ wellbeing.

At risk
Your employees who are at risk of becoming unwell may be living with a long-term health condition or may have started to see signs of illness creeping in. This can impact overall productivity levels and may lead to presenteeism in the workplace.

To support these employees, treat the cause of their conditions rather than just offering a cure, otherwise the problem will keep coming back. If your employee has a bad back, have you considered what factors could be impacting this? Do they need a different chair or is their screen at the right height? Assess and action!

Aid employees to set their own goals; offer wellness pots to give them freedom to support their own wellbeing in a way that works for them. An employee may choose to spend their allowance on weekly yoga classes to offset poor mental health, or on music lessons if exercise isn’t for them. It is encouraging to see from our research* that employers are recognising the importance of wellness pots – two times as many employers are implementing them in 2018 than last year.

The working ill
If your employees are living with a health condition, the impact on their productivity levels is likely to be high, and they may need to take short-term absence.

At this stage, education is key. Ensure everyone understands the causes of health conditions. For example, an employee may be taking time off work for stress because their workload is too much. By knowing this, you can take action and reduce the likelihood of further absence.

Train your line managers and give them the tools they need to identify and deal with certain illnesses. For example, provide mental health first aid training or run sessions on how to support employees returning to work following cancer treatment.

Don’t forget the products and services you already offer can address some issues. Have you considered embedding the support you get from your income protection provider into your absence management programme?

Serious health condition
For employees living with a more serious health condition or a long-term life-changing condition, their work is likely to be impacted to a severe degree. They may take long term absence and may be heavily using PMI.

Be proactive! Don’t wait until an employee is absent before helping them. For example, if an older employee is suffering from arthritis they may need a different keyboard and mouse setup to make their work easier.

If an employee takes long term absence, don’t see this as the end of the journey. Put a plan in place to adapt their working environment to get them back to work as soon as they are ready.

Now that you know the four stages of wellbeing, it’s time for you to put the spotlight on your own benefits strategy. Your employees need you – not only to support their wellbeing but to give them the freedom and control to look after their own health. Do you know where your employees fall on this scale of wellbeing and do you have support available at each stage? If not, it’s time to take a step back and use these stages to provide personalised benefits to fully support your employees.

*Thomsons Online Benefits’ UK Employee Benefits Watch 2017/18 report – ‘Creating the ultimate employee connection’