The Business Exchange Bath & Somerset Issue 13: Autumn 2019 | Page 16

WORKPLACE WELLNESS WELLBEING IN THE WORKPLACE by Jo Kangurs, Keystone HR I am increasingly being asked by my clients how best to support and improve employee’s health and wellbeing. This is not surprising when you consider a recent study revealed that workplace stress, depression or anxiety resulted in a loss of nearly 15.5 million working days (2017/18), at a cost of billions to the UK economy. Having a healthy workforce has many benefits including: • Less sick days – improved wellbeing can result in a reduction in workplace stress and associated absences. • Greater motivation, engagement and retention – employees who feel supported are more likely to be more committed to their employer. • Better customer service and productivity – healthier, happier employees are more likely to offer better customer experiences. Whether it’s physical or mental health, we are all being urged to implement healthy changes and coping mechanisms into both our work and home lives. Many employers are already tuned in to this and committed to looking after their employees’ welfare but if you are in need of a bit more inspiration, here are my top tips: 1. Build a supportive culture The first step is to create an environment where your employees feel safe, secure and supported. It is also important to ensure staff feel comfortable enough to share personal experiences and diminish the stigma of mental health. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach so get to know your staff and tailor a health and wellbeing programme to fit around them. 2. Provide training for line managers According to a recent study, nearly 25% of UK employees always felt stressed or anxious. Train line-managers to spot the signs of stress so they can step in and help as early as possible, whether that means lending a listening ear, adjusting someone’s workload or referring them to more specialist support. 3. Promote emotional wellbeing It isn’t surprising given the rise in stress- related absences in recent years that the most commonly offered wellbeing benefits are access to counselling and employee assistance programmes (CIPD 2015). Other initiatives for improving employees’ emotional and psychological wellbeing can include: • Training in relaxation techniques, conflict resolution or work-life balance. • Corporate social responsibility activities such as community projects or volunteering. 4. Promote physical wellbeing Physical health is just as important as emotional wellbeing. Initiatives and benefits to promote physical wellbeing include: • Exercise programmes such as outdoor activities, team sports, exercise groups or gym memberships. • Improving workplace safety through training, safe equipment and safe practices. • Healthier working environments, such as ergonomic work areas. • Offering health benefits such as private healthcare. 5. Promote wellbeing through personal and career development When employee wellbeing is linked to job performance, it can also be boosted by improving job satisfaction and attitudes to work. Initiatives might include: • Career development through training, mentoring, coaching, or promotion opportunities. • Personal development through activities to promote traits such as resilience, respect, team working, and assertiveness. • Inclusiveness of employees from diverse cultures through equal opportunities or recognising different religious beliefs. • Flexible working opportunities to improve work- life balance. If you would like to discuss employee wellbeing and HR initiatives or approaches within your business, contact Jo Kangurs by emailing: [email protected] For more info: Managing workplace conflict - A mediator’s advice for employers “I asked her how she was coping and she just said, “I’m fine”, so as her manager how am I meant to help her get through this grievance process?” When conflict arises amongst colleagues, communication lines often shut down quickly. It’s a natural response for an employee to feel guarded, withdrawn and defensive in a conflict situation, especially once a grievance process is underway. Arabella Tresilian is an accredited mediator who works with businesses to help them prevent and manage conflict amongst employees, from the boardroom to the factory floor. Arabella recommends having policies and protocols in place to ensure that grievance processes can be avoided if at all possible. “Grievances can serve a crucial purpose but all too often they are a blunt tool for dealing with complex and sensitive interpersonal problems. Other 16 methods exist to address the underlying causes of disputes, methods which actually restore working relationships, rather than leaving colleagues feeling alienated and demotivated by the aftermath of a complaint process.” From Arabella’s experience as a mediator she recommends that businesses consider these tips for restoring employees’ good working relations and effective performance: • Develop a policy of offering early resolution in interpersonal disputes: Many businesses are now seeking to replace grievance processes with solution-focussed interventions which focus on understanding what went wrong, and then deciding how to work together in the future as appropriate. THE BUSINESS EXCHANGE 2019 • Continue to offer line manager training: All too often, HR is called upon to solve the problem, but well-trained line managers can be invaluable in supporting colleagues and coaching them in dealing with workplace difficulties. • Consider that health and wellbeing may be a factor behind a workplace conflict: Mind, the mental health charity, offers free Wellness Action Plans templates online. They are a great resource that an employer and employee can use together to help the person remain well in work. • Take a team development approach: Shining the light on two disputing colleagues can exacerbate problems but helping a team refresh its working protocols can help individuals iron out working difficulties collectively. • Call in a mediator: It can be helpful to invite an external mediator to work confidentially and impartially with individuals to help them clear the air and restore good working relations. Arabella Tresilian is fully- accredited as a Workplace & Employment Mediator by the Centre for Effective Dispute Mediation. [email protected] For more info: Arabella Tresilian