The importance of workplace wellbeing
As we enter the second half of 2022, employers are continuing to face challenges – everything from the rising cost of living to the ongoing impact of COVID, no sector or business has escaped. But what has become apparent is the importance of staff and how vital it is that they feel supported, highlighting the importance of a workplace wellbeing strategy.
Birchwood Park recently undertook a wide-scale survey of businesses within the park, and it is clear that the last two years have been tough on everyone. And whilst the impact of hospitality and manufacturing have dominated the headlines this year, office workers can’t be forgotten – as they have experienced incredible change to their environments and have had to adapt to new changes in how they work.
Worryingly, our survey found that over 50% of workers claim that the business they work for needs to do more to support workplace wellbeing. But what does it actually mean in practical terms for employers? And what do they need to do to implement a better strategy for their staff?
But first things, first what do actually we mean when we talk about workplace wellness?
What is workplace wellness?
Workplace wellness is not a trend that is going away. But what is meant when companies and businesses talk about workplace wellbeing?
Workplace wellness is described as “any workplace health promotion activity or policy designed to support healthy behaviour among employees and to improve health outcomes”. It is also known as corporate wellbeing and can often include onsite fitness programmes, and healthy food options.
But more and more companies are looking at what else their employees need and addressing mental health concerns as well as looking at more flexible, or hybrid working options.
The importance of workplace wellbeing
Promoting employee well-being can deliver mutual benefits for all, and healthy workplaces will help people succeed and reach their potential. But it is important to realise that engaging your workforce and giving them the benefits that they want is key – and can’t be just a box-ticking exercise.
Birchwood Park sees well-being as the lifeblood of a productive workplace, and our very own Parklife philosophy helps ensure that everyone in the park gets the most out of their work-life balance.
We know from our own research that investing in employee wellbeing can lead to increased resilience, better engagement, reduced sickness and higher performance. And research from Deloitte says that poor mental health can cost UK employers up to £45billion per year, with statistics showing that for every £1 spent on supporting employees’ wellbeing, employers get back £5 in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.
In 2018, Birchwood Park celebrated 20 years of wellbeing, and since opening in 1998 it has been driven by the ethos that businesses should expect more from their workplace- whether this is good transport connections, amenities on site, or even something simple as a strong sense of community.
Wellbeing Week is increasing in popularity, year on year, and continues to support staff wellbeing. A regular calendar of activities and events ensures that staff come together and take part in their bi-annual wellbeing week.
What can businesses do to support staff wellbeing?
Where individuals may have adapted to the new normal, it is clear that businesses need to step up and do more, but it can be difficult to know where to begin and what is important to you and your staff.
The office is central to the working day for many, and our research has shown that workers are ready to get back to a sense of normality with 95% wanting to shift away from solely working from home and the majority (82%) happy to be heading back into the office for a minimum of 2 days a week.
For office based-workers, the office is much more than just a place of work but is an important factor in achieving a great work-life balance. Our research has shown the negative impact homeworking is having on the lives of employees, with increased screen time and longer hours (45%), feeling disconnected from our colleagues (44%), and increased difficulty in switching off at the end of the day (32%) amongst the biggest concerns.
What’s important to your team?
Wellbeing isn’t just meditation and mindfulness – it’s about making sure that your team have the right tools to carry out their jobs. Our research revealed the top areas where employees want support to improve their workplace wellbeing:
- Flexible working policy, e.g., Flexitime, implementation of core office-based hours
- Allowing remote working or part remote working
- Adaptations to the working environment in the office for comfort purposes; e.g., break out areas, quiet areas, standing desks
- Greater number of holiday days, and flexibility on holiday allowances
- Providing greater access to mental health support, e.g., coaching, one-to-one sessions, talking therapies
- Providing greater access to physical health support, e.g., regular movement time/desk breaks, gym incentives, healthy snacks
- An emphasis on creating a positive workplace culture
- Greater emphasis on at-work socialisation and social events with colleagues
- Adaptations to the working environment for aesthetic purposes; e.g., pleasing decoration of the office, greenery being introduced into the office
- Comprehensive health insurance
Our top tips for staff to improve wellbeing
Workplace wellbeing can often feel hard to achieve, as there is so much choice. But it is an important first step to understand how small changes on a daily basis can contribute to promoting health and physical wellbeing. Businesses that are promoting well-being can offer different workplace initiatives. We’ve listed seven steps to help employees feel happier and healthier.
- Create boundaries between your working and home life.
- Get into a routine – you don’t need to plot your day hour, by hour, but establishing regular working practices will help you get through the day easily.
- Flexibility will help and take advantage of hybrid and flexible working options.
- Get active. As well as a focus on mental wellbeing – it is important to improve physical well-being too – even a gentle yoga session or a walk at lunchtime will help.
- Be healthy and hydrate. Diet and fitness is just as important as physical and mental health.
- Get a good night’s sleep. It’s easy to overlook, but can be key when helping you prepare for your working day.
- Finally, when thinking about your health and wellbeing, it’s vital to NOT compare yourself to others. Well-being is entirely individualised.
For more information, visit Seven Ways to Improve Wellbeing at Work.
You can find the full results of our survey, as well as download our Workplace Wellbeing Handbook – which gives great tips and lots of advice from a wellbeing expert – Khalil Renner on our Wellbeing hub.
Birchwood Park has always held employee wellbeing at the heart of our design – we ensure we provide everything from green spaces, healthy food options, and discounted gym members for all businesses in the park. For more information about everything that is happening on the park – you can download the Parklife app here.