Employee wellbeing - tips for a healthy workforce

This week, the government announced the expansion of its Public Health Responsibility Deal.

The Deal is intended to encourage firms to take a more active role in promoting good health and wellbeing amongst their workforces. To date, almost 300 firms have signed up.

Whether or not you business is a signatory to the Public Health Responsibility Deal, workforce wellbeing should be near the top of your list of priorities. Here are some top tips to help you maintain a happy, healthy, productive workforce.

1. Remember stress

Stress is amongst the most important factors affecting employee wellbeing – and yet it is also one of the most frequently overlooked and misunderstood. Make sure that you factor the potential for stress into your business planning. You should incorporate stress into your risk assessments, and consider ways in which you can mitigate its impact. Try to spot the signs of stress early on, and address them proactively.

2. Don't preach

Employees frequently react badly if they feel they are being preached at. While considering ways in which you can improve employee wellbeing, it is important that you do not make patronise. Make clear that you are trying to offer options for those who wish to take action themselves – but at the same time, consider ways that you can integrate wellbeing seamlessly into your working practices.

3. Consider employee benefits

Employee benefits are amongst the simplest and most important areas in which you can make wellbeing gains. Think about the benefits package that you currently offer. How could you include a focus on wellbeing within that package? For example, are you currently offering any health-related benefits like medical insurance? If not, consider how you can build wellbeing into you employee benefits.

4. Conduct back-to-work interviews

Back-to-work interviews are amongst the most important tools in your arsenal when it comes to employee wellbeing. By having a quick chat with an employee when they return to work, you can ascertain whether or not there are issues you can address in order to improve general health and reduce absence. By formalising these interviews and keeping a record of the results, you can begin to build a picture of recurring or worsening problems, and tackle these proactively.

5. Engage with employees

The importance of employee engagement really cannot be overstated. Communication is everything in the workplace – and in the field of employee wellbeing, it is particularly vital for two reasons. First, it allows you to understand some of the primary factors affecting your workforce. By simply asking, you can improve your understanding of your employees’ mindsets. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, communication is in itself amongst the most effective way of tackling some major workplace problems. Disengagement is a common problem amongst employees, many of whom feel that they are not being listened to by management. By simply talking to your workforce, either on a formal or informal basis, you can help to address this problem.

6. Remember your own wellbeing

Finally, self-employed people are notoriously bad at looking after their own health and wellbeing. As well as considering your workforce, consider ways that you can improve and maintain your own health and your own state of mind. Getting enough time off is paramount. In addition, when you do take time off it is important that you make the most of it. You may want to read our tips for business owners’ holidays for more information on this. Similarly, consider whether you can delegate more of your workload. Business owners are often unwilling to give up control of aspects of their organisation, but by passing on tasks to trusted individuals you can improve your mindset and leave you free to build your business.