WorkSmart: Workplace Wellbeing

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 9 March 2016
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

As HR Consultants it has become increasing apparent that absenteeism, staff dissatisfaction at work and stress at work have become a significant factors for employers to contend with. This poses a concern in itself, separate to the significant cost of managing these for the employer. 

IBEC (2011) stated that 11 million days are lost through absenteeism every year at a cost of €1.5 billion which highlights that improving employee wellbeing should be at the core of employer agendas and are in the best interest of the workforce in general. Improved workplace wellbeing can lead to sustained improvements within the workplace including increased creativity, improved employee loyalty, improved productivity and better overall customer satisfaction. In light of this information, many employers are now concentrating on workplace wellbeing initiatives and have achieved considerable rewards from doing so. 
Ensuring wellbeing is inherent in the workplace will give rise to benefits such as enhanced recruitment, retention of healthy happy employees, decreased rates of illness/injury, reduced employee absenteeism, bettered productivity, enriched employee relations, increased morale and satisfaction. 
People Management
A well-rounded approach to workplace wellbeing requires a focus on people management that focuses on assisting employees to:
  • Bolster employee personal resources i.e. health, resilience, optimism, self-esteem
  • Take pride in their roles within the organisational system
  • Generate a high functioning work environment, both as individuals and in collaboration with their colleagues as part of teamwork
  • Have a positive overall experience of work 
Mental Health
As catalogued in recent literature and articles, the area of mental health and stress is a large component of everyone’s lives: ‘one sixth to one third of the working-age population in the European region experiences symptoms associated with mental ill health such as sleep disorders, fatigue, irritability and worry’ (Kuhn 2010:14-15). 
There is now an obligation on employers to incorporate and embrace health and safety systems into organisations which protect the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. It is advised that this area should be a facet of improving an organisations workplace wellbeing.
Not only is it an area to which a stigma is still attached but this area can expose an employer’s liability and impede on employee health and safety in the workplace. It is well noted that mental health issues impact on resilience in life both personally and in working relationships. 
Early intervention in mental health problems is imperative in ensuring better recovery outcomes. By reducing stigma and creating awareness within the workplace the organisation can be at the forefront of recognising what constitutes mental health, how to reduce workplace stress and how to assist others. 
This will place the organisation in a more positive position to significantly assist the management of mental health issues with its employees – the Company’s most valuable resource.
As Woody Allen says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both’. 
Presenteeism is an issue which is highlighted as a becoming more prevalent in the workplace. In short, it refers to the lost productivity resulting from real health problems when staff members with health problems attend for work despite illness, injury or distress. 
Employers often grumble of managing productivity lost from people showing up but not performing at the top of their game and due to its silent nature, this issue can be both hard to monitor and even harder to address than absenteeism. Illness can impact on both the quantity and quality of work. It is difficult to distinguish if an employee has mentally checked out until performance and productivity indicate significantly otherwise.
However, it is important to understand the impact of presenteeism: it is a much more damaging difficulty than absenteeism. If employees feel pressurised to attend for work unless they absolutely cannot then this encourages presenteeism amongst all staff. 
There are a number of ways that employers can reduce the prevalence of presenteeism and create a more productive working environment: namely increasing knowledge and awareness. 
Organisations need to understand that a focus on the body, mind and environment can improve overall wellbeing in the workplace. Introducing methods which protect employee’s wellbeing can help prevent a number illnesses which can help reduce absenteeism & presenteeism.
How Do I Introduce Wellbeing Into My Workplace? 
According to the findings by the Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF), many of Ireland's workers want to become healthier and would like to see their employers playing a role in this. Provide information on general wellness ideas i.e. fitness classes, group walks after work, charity events i.e. Darkness into Light, nutritional ideas, following Operation Transformation etc.
Meet with employees on a regular basis one to one to discuss performance and goals. Have brainstorming sessions with your team for improving happiness and wellbeing at work.
Create an open environment for employees to learn about their own well-being and share ideas with their colleagues.
Identify and Assess
Review the organisational systems e.g. material conditions, work, productivity, income levels, stability etc. Understand that these elements intertwine with employees wellbeing on factors such as autonomy, competence, feeling safe and secure, being connected with others to create happiness at work.
Provide training on a number of topics to help reduce stress or to create awareness; time management, assertiveness, company culture awareness, wellbeing and mental health awareness, dignity and respect.
The HR Suite in conjunction with Nisus Fitness’ ‘Small Wins Campaign’ have developed the Wellbeing at Work Initiative: WorkSmart. WorkSmart examines the importance of focusing on body, mind and environment to improve overall wellbeing in the workplace and offers advice and training on how to improve the overall wellbeing of your workforce. 
This article is correct at 09/03/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

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