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Key characteristics of a successful workplace wellness initiative

  • 4 Min Read

Rachel Whitford, Area Retail Manager at Express talks about how businesses can engage and retain employees by focusing on their health and wellbeing

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It’s an ongoing struggle for businesses to retain their best and brightest employees, with approximately 2.7 to 2.8 million employees quitting their jobs every month. Worryingly, a Deloitte report found issues with company cultures and a ‘lack of empowerment’ were among the top reasons cited for staff departure. Traditionally, many businesses try to address such problems by simply boosting salaries. However, if companies want to stay ahead of the curve, they need to adopt a more holistic approach that takes into account all aspects of employee health, wellbeing and happiness. Here are four crucial steps employers can take to put employee wellbeing at the forefront of their business.

Be accessible and flexible

The first aspect of your company wellness strategy to consider is how inclusive and accessible it is. If it doesn’t have these characteristics, you won’t be able to successfully integrate it across all facets of your business. You will need to communicate across all levels if you want to ensure team members are fully invested in any changes you’re proposing. An effective way to do this is to combine group team meetings with one-to-one sessions between senior and junior team members to make sure your entire staff are well briefed on the details and long-term goals. It also ensures staff have the opportunity to ask managers any questions or concerns in private. It might be worthwhile introducing ‘change champions. These are a group of selected employees who boost workplace culture by helping to educate and inform co-workers about the programmes available within the workplace.

Reassess the business mindset

If you want to ensure your wellbeing strategy has the best chance of taking off, you need to think about how you can adopt a culture-first mentality. This approach looks at the ‘total quality of life’ and brings a more holistic mindset to the world of wellbeing. This involves looking at the roles in your business and assessing if they support work-life balance, mental and physical wellbeing. At Express, we worked closely with our client, Airwair, to help facilitate better ‘total quality of life’ across its business premises. Airwair has always placed significant value on employee wellness. In the past, it has spearheaded health-driven efforts such as treadmills for use during meetings, on-site massages and created designated wellbeing spaces in each office. We helped the team generate ideas for their wellbeing week event, as well as assisted them in providing healthier food options for their staff. Airwair has found team dynamics have greatly improved, as staff have an additional area to relax during their lunch hours or breaks and enjoy having one central refreshment point (rather than going out to different locations for lunch).

Food, glorious food

What we eat can have a major impact on our productivity. According to research, workers who eat healthier meals and exercise regularly, work more effectively and take less time off due to ill health. Clearly, food plays an important role in staff output and thankfully, businesses are starting to integrate healthy food options into their wellness agendas. At Express, we worked with Airwair to provide a bespoke refreshment solution with an emphasis on health and wellbeing. We regularly supplied fruit as an alternative to less healthy options like sweets and for meetings, Airwair now opts for more nutritious choices like salads and sandwiches as opposed to fast-food options. Adopting a more health-centred approach to work life doesn’t have to be elaborate. Updating your refreshment facilities and providing healthier food alternatives could be the first steps your business takes towards making better food a priority.

Be more responsible

Studies suggest 79 per cent of people would prefer to work for a socially responsible company and there is evidence that combined CSR and wellness initiatives improve collaboration, innovation and soft skill development. With employees now searching for something more meaningful from businesses, it’s important to think about how you can make social responsibility a pillar of your company. Why not try incorporating it into every day with fun activities like charity running clubs, cycle to work schemes and bake sales? Companies can also promote CSR by creating a calendar of events for staff to participate in throughout the year. This will make employees feel your business is finding ways to be involved in wider causes and committed to making a longstanding difference. What employees expect from businesses is constantly changing and this seismic shift isn’t poised to stop anytime soon. With millennials slowly taking over the workforce, if you want your company to stand out, you need to make sure you’re treating workplace wellbeing as a priority and not an afterthought.

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