The outbreak of COVID-19 put everyone in a state of emergency. The pandemic brought many changes in our daily lives be it office, health care, or education. In a boost to employee engagement, conversations about employee well-being are no longer restricted to the office cafeteria and are, in fact, increasingly taking place in the boardroom. However, this shift has not happened overnight. While awareness and recognition of employee well-being in the workplace have been growing over the past decade, it has come into sharp focus, especially during the pandemic.
The unprecedented health crisis saw the global workforce struggling with several well-being issues including and not restricted to: stress, anxiety, depression, and mental health. Luckily companies have been quick to realise the gravity of the situation and have lost no time in prioritising employee health and well-being, which now form an important element of company charters.
On the other hand, organisations that do not align their policies with employee well-being will continue to be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis employee motivation, productivity and retention, declining growth, a waning competitive edge, and loss of employer brand value, among others. A study by Deloitte found that stress badly affected the quality of work among nearly 91% of workers.
On a positive note, more and more companies are adopting an employee-centric culture. For example, a Great Place to Work 2020 study cited employee health and well-being among the top two priorities of business leaders covered under the study. The report came out with the Workplace Wellness Index which enables organisations to build a culture fostering health and high performance.
Let’s first understand what makes a workplace great.
Companies that care for their people, especially during crises, are often tagged as great places to work. To achieve that, employee well-being should be at the core of any workplace culture. A great workplace is essentially an organisation that allows different ideas to be put on the table and break new ground. It respects varied opinions, perspectives and views. It accepts people for who they are and gives them a sense of belonging; it also provides them with mental support and satisfaction on the job. In other words, a place that respects its employees is considered a great place to work.
Why is it important to build great workplaces?
Prioritising wellness by encouraging employees to take time off with their families, among other benefits, is key to an ideal workplace. Such employee-friendly initiatives lead to a more focused, creative, goal-oriented, and dedicated workforce. Apart from these, there are also other reasons why corporations must focus on employee well-being. These include talent retention and low attrition, which means employees are motivated to do the best they can in a way that benefits them as well as the company. When this happens, employees are more likely to recommend their employers to others, thus attracting fresh talent and enhancing brand value.
Organisations can easily strive toward becoming great places to work by incorporating the following practices as part of their policies:
- Leadership sensitisation: The leadership team must stay committed to creating an environment of employee safety, and physical and mental well-being. They must prioritise wellness and regularly discuss newer initiatives that make the organisation people-centric. Putting people before business and profits are imperative. This will lead to a culture of care and compassion while reaping business gains.
- Building wellness objectives and key results: A company can thrive by bringing wellness objectives and goals to the centre stage and creating a high-performance and high-trust culture. Additionally, educating the employees to take ownership of their well-being is equally important.
- Holistic healthcare: Future-ready companies are already looking at holistic healthcare as an integral part of their business strategy. Employees around the world want to work at places where they are respected, inspired and cared for, and that’s why progressive organisations are shifting focus towards a preventive approach to employee health and wellbeing.
- A culture of allyship: Allyship implies empowering marginalised groups by working in solidarity for their wellness. It means eliminating practices and systems that deprive vulnerable groups of their rights and giving them equal access and opportunities in the workplace. Besides, organisational culture should be seen to be supportive and foster trust among employees.
Building safe places for employees
Organisations must make a conscious effort to create a safe environment that encourages employees to voice their concerns and grievances without fear. Companies should provide a sense of security for employees, even as they show that they value the workforce.
Any company can have a grand vision and corporate purpose, but it means little if the employees do not have a great place and culture to work in.