Every business needs an employee wellbeing strategy. Sometimes that might just be in the form of a mission statement or wellbeing plan, for smaller teams. For bigger businesses, however, a fully-fledged strategy is the way to go. Ultimately, your employee wellbeing strategy will help to keep staff happy, productive and engaged.
All businesses are different so, unfortunately, there’s no Word document template for you to fill out to get your strategy. So here are the key starting points to consider when you begin putting your employee wellbeing strategy together.
Table of Contents
- What should your employee wellbeing strategy cover?
- Initiatives to include in your employee wellbeing strategy
- What you should consider for your organisation
- How to evaluate your employee wellbeing strategy
- Next steps
What should your employee wellbeing strategy cover?
Here at New Leaf Health, we recognise four key pillars of wellbeing. Through our work around the UK, we’ve found these four points to be crucial in relation to staff wellbeing. They are:
- Physical wellbeing: physical health and fitness. This can cover illnesses such as coughs and colds, as well as more serious conditions such as musculoskeletal conditions, cardiovascular disease, injuries and disabilities.
- Mental wellbeing: mental health and related conditions. Mental health is a spectrum and sometimes we’re mentally well, sometimes we’re not and may have conditions such as depression and anxiety. This also considers other conditions, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
- Social wellbeing: this looks at people’s social connections and the wellbeing of relationships. This can include family, friends and colleagues, so it can have a pretty significant role in the workplace.
- Financial wellbeing: people’s financial stability and happiness. This aspect considers the financial health of staff (not necessarily just how much they get paid), as well as long-term financial goals, like buying a house.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to put more focus on a specific area of wellbeing. Time-pressured jobs may require mental health support. Whereas manual labour workers may need help around back care and other aspects of physical wellbeing.
Similarly, a business working remotely may need to focus on social wellbeing. By contrast, an organisation with lots of low-paid workers may need to consider the financial wellbeing of those staff.
You will learn where you need to focus when you reach out to your staff. Speaking of which.
Initiatives to include in your employee wellbeing strategy
A good wellbeing strategy features actions and initiatives. This doesn’t mean you need to immediately start organising exercise groups and yoga sessions, though. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Your first step is to find out what will have the most impact on your business.
Find out what your business needs from a wellbeing strategy
For this step, you will have two primary concerns. Firstly, you should consider your objectives and policies as a business. If you have a mental health policy in place, for example, you may look at how you can support that policy and fulfil its goals.
If your business aims to have an excellent workplace culture (to attract the best talent, for example), then you may look at how social wellbeing initiatives can support that goal.
Secondly, it’s imperative that you consult with staff in order to determine what they need out of a wellbeing strategy. Are lots of your staff worried about finance? Do they regularly struggle with stress or illness? Speak to people throughout the business, including your team leaders, and learn where you can offer support.
A good idea here is to complete a needs analysis for your business. That would need a whole other blog (and probably then some) to explain, but we take you through how to create one, including some examples, on our Workplace Wellbeing Coordinators Course.
Build your wellbeing team and brand
Unfortunately, a straightforward Word document isn’t going to cut it – it’s time to get creative. To have maximum impact, you need to communicate your wellbeing plan using an easily recognisable internal brand.
You should look to give your wellbeing plan a name, at the very least. The more time and effort you put into branding the easier it will be to communicate ideas to employees. You could create a logo and develop a brand identity, for example.
Another important step at this stage is to determine who in your team will support your employee wellbeing strategy. We often recommend training Wellbeing Champions to help plan and deliver events and key communications outlined in your strategy. These are staff who are passionate about wellbeing and are willing to spend some time promoting it.
You should also consider training mental health advocates throughout the business. Utilising Mental Health First Aiders or Suicide First Aiders can offer key support to staff. They can also help you communicate important ideas around mental health initiatives.
Health promotion in an employee wellbeing strategy
Health promotion plays an important role in any employee wellbeing strategy. Simply put, you need to help your employees to care about health and wellbeing and to be somewhat personally invested.
Part of this will come down to your organisation’s culture and pre-existing notions towards health and wellbeing. If your staff don’t talk about wellbeing in the workplace, then a communication campaign from your Wellbeing Champions could be a great place to start.
Health promotion events and initiatives also play a key role in wellbeing. This is important when it comes to reducing risk – i.e. helping people make changes to their lifestyle in order to avert potential illness and disease.
Here at New Leaf Health, we run health checks and health screenings for many of our clients, giving their staff insight into key health stats such as blood pressure, body fat, visceral fat, cholesterol, blood glucose and more. This empowers someone who may have high cholesterol, for example, to take their results to a doctor for further investigation. Hopefully, this helps them prevent serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes from occurring down the line.
Education and awareness initiatives
Education and awareness play a huge role in any wellbeing campaign. A lot of people simply don’t know what they can do to look after their own wellbeing.
Finance is a great example of this. Tax, pensions, ISAs, mortgages, benefits – there’s a lot of information out there, which can get quite complicated depending on how deep you dive. Some staff, especially younger workers who may be experiencing new financial independence, may not have a clue what options are available to them when it comes to their money. Offering workshops around finance can be incredibly valuable to your staff. Even simple things like budgeting can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of staff. This is especially true with the cost of living crisis and a looming recession.
You might also consider workshops to help staff help themselves when it comes to mental wellbeing. Mindfulness and stress and resilience awareness can be incredibly useful coping mechanisms for your employees, helping them to manage their emotions. This is especially important in high-pressure industries, where stress and burnout may be common. Giving your staff these tools to help themselves can contribute greatly towards a happier, healthier and more productive workplace.
The working environment
The workspace is an area that many people overlook when it comes to wellbeing. With the recent shift to working from home, though, it’s a more important consideration than ever.
Initially, you may want to look at workplace amenities that contribute towards wellbeing. Perhaps some little things, like fruit in the break-out area, or free period products in the toilets. Ask your staff what they would appreciate and tie it into your wellbeing objectives. Do you want to encourage healthy snacking? Stock the kitchen or vending machines with some nutritious treats. Do you want to encourage staff to exercise more? Offer a place for bike riders to store their bikes and change clothes.
Of course, many staff will still be working from home or remotely, and some may be working flexitime, too. This should definitely form part of your employee wellbeing strategy, as convenient working arrangements (such as working from home, or flexing hours around school runs) are often very beneficial for the wellbeing of staff.
On the other hand, it’s worth considering the social equilibrium of the working environment too. Are remote workers experiencing loneliness or isolation? Do they get enough time to catch up with colleagues and managers? Check-in with your staff, and include initiatives to ensure that they receive support socially, wherever they work.
What you should consider for your organisation
Primarily, any employee wellbeing strategy should be concerned with equal access. In other words, does your policy support everyone in the business and does it meet their needs effectively?
For example, if you have a multi-sited or regional business setup, with larger workplaces and smaller ones, would the staff at the smaller workplace still have access to the same initiatives and opportunities afforded to those at the business headquarters?
If you don’t consider this aspect of your strategy carefully, you can end up developing an “us and them” feel to things, which is completely counterproductive to the point of a wellbeing strategy.
Most of the plan will also be dictated by your budget. Studies have shown that investing in wellbeing properly does return a net profit in increased productivity from staff, but only if you carefully plan how the budget will be utilised. There’s no point in offering free massage sessions at work if nobody is interested in them, which is why it’s so important to speak to your staff and find out what they want.
You also need to factor in how you will communicate your strategy. As we touched on earlier, having Wellbeing Champions in place is crucial to the success of your initiatives. But you will also need to ensure the buy-in of senior management, too. If HR is incredibly passionate about wellbeing, but the operations management team are less enthused, find out why. Then try to determine what could persuade them to be more wellbeing-focused.
How to evaluate your employee wellbeing strategy
From the very start, you should have clear goals in mind for your wellbeing strategy, and you should have a plan in place to evaluate your success towards those goals.
You need to define your goals very clearly (who doesn’t love a S.M.A.R.T. target?) Then you should set regular intervals to assess your progress towards them.
Gathering feedback will be an important part of this process, but it can’t be as shallow as simply surveying staff and asking “did you like it when we did X or Y?” You should look to factor in business productivity data and financials. This is often a great way to gain the buy-in of upper management, too.
When it comes to preventative health measures, many of our clients here at New Leaf Health opt for regular health checks so that staff can compare their numbers and see how they’ve progressed. Some businesses choose to rent the equipment, allowing for greater access, so that all staff can really invest in their health numbers. With these clients, we supply regular (and anonymised) data reports, so that they get an overview of the average health stats across the business, and can compare changes over time. This is the kind of approach you should take with the whole wellbeing strategy so that you can identify and celebrate your successes.
Don’t forget to communicate
Finally, you’ll need a platform to communicate your evaluation. If you find that staff productivity levels are on the rise, don’t let it sit in an Excel spreadsheet. Decide how and when you will communicate your successes to the business. Perhaps you could provide video updates on your staff intranet or display posters around your workplace – this will help spread the message about your wellbeing initiatives, too.
Communicating the results to upper management is just as important, so ensuring that wellbeing is on the agenda during important business strategy meetings is also key. We actually have a session covering management buy-in on our Wellbeing Coordinators Training Course, as it’s so crucial.
If you’ve reached the end of this article, you’ll hopefully now have a clearer picture of an employee wellbeing strategy. Because every business is different, no two strategies are going to be the same. That’s why the information we’ve given you here is intentionally very broad.
If you’d like to learn more about developing a wellbeing strategy, you might want to consider our Wellbeing Coordinators Training Course. This course is based on over 26 years of experience in the wellbeing sector – we started working with clients in the mid-1990s when wellbeing was considered far less important, so we know how to get things going from scratch – and gives you the knowledge and tools to develop a personalised wellbeing strategy for your organisation. Click here to learn more.
Additionally, if you have some ideas for a strategy and are interested in introducing some wellbeing initiatives into your business, why not have a chat with us? We work with hundreds of businesses of all sizes around the UK each year. If you have a specific wellbeing challenge, we likely know how to address it. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be happy to have a chat with you.
And finally, before you go, if you decide to go it alone, we hope this article has given you the starting point you need to create a fantastic employee wellbeing strategy. But don’t forget to download a copy of our free Workplace Wellbeing Calendar for 2023. It’s packed with dates and campaigns to help you plan initiatives throughout the year. Click here to get your copy.