Would you say you have a firm handle on Workplace Wellness?

Do you think your team would back you up if they were asked about their physical and mental wellbeing?

Is your business on track to succeed with a healthy, happy workforce?

Or do your employees feel a little disjointed and distant from the strategy and core of the business?

Workplace wellness has honed into view for many small business leaders and been given even greater prominence over the last year. However, the importance of getting this right has been of pressing concern for many years.

A 2019 Vitality study compared productivity and employee engagement between 2014 and 2019, and some of the figures were actually getting worse. It stated that 56.4% of employees suffered from work-related stress and that lost productivity rose from 23 days in 2014 to 38 days in 2019.

The report highlighted that small and very small business offered, on average, around 25 interventions to help their employees, whereas larger organisations offered 30. However, awareness of these potential interventions among employees was down around 28%.

More recent figures, almost certainly the result of the upheaval we have all experienced this year, suggest that now 79% of employees in Britain are feeling heightened stress levels.

One size does not fit all

Managing workplace stress is not easy. With so much commentary around the subject, it can be hard to unearth the right plan. So here are a few fundamentals to start with that can help you find the right solution for your business.

Workplace Wellness

Openness and Transparency

The one thing to state here is, you won’t solve everyone’s problems every time, all the time. There will always be a difference of opinion and alternative view that, unchecked, could grow into a larger issue.

But that is the wonderful mash-up of life, and while you would never want anyone to feel stressed or under pressure, the issues they are facing, if dealt with appropriately, could result in a real benefit to the whole organisation. This is the value and the challenge of inspiring diversity of thought throughout your business.

So encouraging an open and transparent approach as a leader in your business, whether you are the CEO, founder or team leader, and helping to foster that culture across your business, will help to bring the difficulties facing your team out into the open.

Perkbox’s recent research shows that rather than long hours, as was the case in 2018, office politics and others’ performance were two of the primary causes of work-related stress. At the same time, monetary issues and family stress were high in terms of problems outside the office.

So don’t assume you know what their problems are, ask your team what is challenging them and making them feel low will. There is always the option to avoid the situation and hope that it goes away, but showing that you are aware of the issues and willing to find a resolution will encourage the business to act in that way too.

Not everyone responds in the same way, and asking people in a one to one meeting or chatting to them over a pint might not help them open up. However, if you are inspiring the right open culture, people will find the confidence to share their issues in their own way.

It doesn’t matter if you have a team of 5 or 45, if people are unhappy, they will not be productive, and more importantly, they will personally find life pretty tough.

Lead

As a leader or member of the leadership team, you cannot foster a culture of wellness and togetherness if you don’t embody the values and live by the same code. So if you want people to open up to their managers and feel comfortable talking about mental health problems and challenges they face, you need to.

While your challenges will almost certainly be different, people follow actions and build confidence in a leader that encourages an open culture that welcomes and resolves conflict.

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A crucial part of conflict resolution and building a mutually beneficial culture is adopting a win-win mindset in your organisation. But, again, this has to come from the leadership. If others’ performance within a team or office politics is causing heightened stress levels, then act quickly to resolve, and encourage the compromise that creates a win for both sides.

Workplace Wellness

Communicate

Research suggests that stress, especially in the virtual world many of us are operating in right now, is often down to a lack of communication.

When people feel isolated and ‘out of the loop’, they fill the information gap with other realities. Loneliness contributes significantly to stress levels. While it may be seen as an issue for senior members of the team, Deloitte found that actually, Generation Z reported the highest levels of loneliness. So when you couple this with a remote workforce and poor communication, stress levels can escalate quickly.

Communication can come in a range of different ways. Sure, a weekly newsletter is OK, and it keeps people informed. But it is naive to think this covers all bases.

Team meetings; one to ones, all support the different requirements people have. But how do you facilitate the broader team engagement, the more ad hoc interaction that might spark conversation or inspire a new approach?

Technology has developed to provide some of these interactions. We use Trickle who have shout outs and Trickles to inspire debate around new concepts and ideas.

Slack has a number of features that can generate random catch-ups with people out with your team.

You could even bring in a virtual trainer to inspire a connection over exercise if that is what people are looking for.

As we said at the start, one size does not fit all, and you need to find what works best for your business.

Workplace Wellness is crucial

What is clear, however, you go about finding the best approach for your team, is that your team’s wellness is paramount. It is also important you see it wellness as a holistic approach, not just at work but in the broader sense too.

While you might not be able to action much concerning your teammates home life, you can provide the support and guidance needed to help them through any challenges they face.

If you be the change you want to see and make sure you have open and honest communication, you can be confident you are on track to improve your organisation’s workplace wellness.

Ewan Anderson

Ewan Anderson is Associate Marketing Director for Eden Scott and TalentSpark. He has a wealth of marketing experience delivering successful strategies for both B2B and B2C businesses.

Ewan is also the Vice Chair of Communications for CIM Scotland and a Non-Exec Board Member for Marketing for Snowsport Scotland.