March 9, 2018

5 things your employees want wellbeing wise

Are you wondering what all the fuss is about wellbeing in the workplace? Here is our guide to making sure a wellbeing program works.

In 2017, the best employers are committed to providing a workplace that considers not just the professional development of their people, but also their health and wellbeing. After all, it’s well documented that a healthy worker will be more engaged and focussed, productive and committed. The rising introduction of formal wellbeing programs is evidence of this focus, however, it’s fair to say the reasons why business’ introduce a wellbeing program may vary.

From my perspective, your motivation doesn’t matter – whether it’s increasing your bottom line or whether it just makes you feel good, start with these five principles and your wellbeing program will work.

  1. Let them leave on time


It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? All the fancy gym memberships and nutrition seminars in the world cannot replace the value you place on your people’s time.

In my view, this is the single-most positive impact you can have on your workplace. Encouraging your employees to start and finish work when they’re contractually entitled to demonstrate a commitment to their wellbeing in a way that nothing else can match.

We have all worked in environments where to be seen after hours is the norm and where long hours are rewarded. However, a productive employee who can get all their work done within normal work hours is far more valuable to your business and these are the behaviours to encourage.

Of course, from time to time business will demand a little extra, and performance expectations always need to be clearly articulated but make sure overtime is the exception, not the norm.

  1. Practice what you preach

Nothing says ‘token effort’ quite like a boss who says encouraging statements about the importance of wellbeing but fails to act on their words. If managers are always stressed and working back late, not stopping to eat lunch and not actively participating in any of your formal initiatives this sends a strong message to your people that you don’t really mean what you say. People will notice and they’ll start to imitate the behaviour of their bosses. A real commitment to wellbeing always starts at the top.

So stop your managers from having lunch ‘al desko’, encourage them to be visible in your wellbeing initiatives, and make sure they’re invisible after hours.

  1. Listen

Do you throw out that bowl of fruit at the end of the week because no-one’s eating it? Do you struggle to get a team to play in the weekly lunch-time soccer comp? Perhaps you need to take the time to listen to what your employees want when it comes to wellbeing. You probably won’t be able to please everyone. But there’s also no point spending your wellbeing budget on initiatives and activities your staff doesn’t want. My advice is to save your budget until you’ve asked them what they want, and before you commit to spending, work out how you can provide maximum benefit at minimum cost.

  1. Make it relevant

When it comes to wellbeing, always focus where you spend your money on what matters. Encouraging your people to take the annual flu vaccination is, in my opinion, a super smart idea. It benefits them as it’s convenient, no-cost and the health benefits are proven, and the benefit to your business in reduced sick days and lower spread of infection goes straight to your bottom line.

On the flipside, a seminar on workstation ergonomics may be relevant and interesting to people who spend all day at their desks but it’s a waste of time and money for people who work on the production floor. So keep it relevant.

  1. Keep it consistent with your culture

All wellbeing activities you invest in should support your culture and company values. For instance, a workplace where people need to work autonomously, independently and are geographically isolated will need different activities from a collaborative environment where people work together in a tight-knit team. And drinks on a Friday night when everyone just wants to get home will never take off. If you get this part of it wrong it matters. You won’t just be wasting money, you’ll be sending the wrong message to your people.

Want more? 

If you’d like to know how your business can build a wellbeing program that is of genuine benefit to your people and also keep them engaged and productive, get in touch.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

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