Your wellbeing: The key to a better business.
Today we understand that to truly become the successful person we envision for ourselves, whether in business or family — we must achieve the essential component of any productive modern lifestyle: wellness.
Wellness, as it turns out, has always been the key to achieving and sustaining success, and it also holds the potential to exponentially grow our economy. It’s also a concept that’s driven a recent, widespread lifestyle renaissance. So how can we apply it to the workplace and your business?
How work-life balance is relevant to workplaces
Positive mental health and well-being leads to positive life outcomes for staff and better results for your workplace. Staff who are mentally healthy have higher job satisfaction and self-esteem. They are more likely to be engaged with work tasks and the workplace, be more creative, make better decisions, problem-solve more efficiently and effectively, experience less stress and take fewer days off work. The workplace can have a big influence on the well-being of staff while they are both present and away from work.
Individuals with good work-life balance are more likely to be flourishing both at work and outside of work. A good work-life balance can enhance the personal resources individuals bring to work. The workplace can be supportive of good work-life balance through providing fulfilling work and providing a supportive work environment such as:
- Supportive supervision.
- Offering learning opportunities.
- Providing learning opportunities for life skills (e.g. financial workshops, parenting support).
- Implement a flexible working hours policy within reason to help staff manage stress levels and work-life balance.
- Ensure staff rosters are circulated in advance, so staff can plan outside of work.
- Systems are in place so, where possible, there is variety of work for staff to alternate between physically active work and more sedentary work, to avoid fatigue.
- Enable staff to work from home if appropriate (such as when transitioning back to work from parental leave or injury).
- Allow staff to leave work for short periods (such as to go to medical appointments).
Building the business case for well-being
Increasingly, to help bolster ‘happiness in the workplace’(which seems to translate to overall success and sustainability of an organisation) businesses are prioritising employee well-being. After all, if employees are happy and well, it’s likely that customers will be too.
But well-being goes far beyond just staying fit and healthy, although that is an important part of it. Making sure your employees are mentally well, socially stimulated, and financially cared for is every bit as important as looking after their physical well-being.
Employer attitudes towards employee well-being are changing. Shifting age demographics and generational expectations mean that workers are demanding more and more from their employers in terms of overall support. Traditionally though, ‘well-being’ has been thought of in physical terms, with organisations prioritising the physical health of their workforce, but this is no longer the case. Well-being is more than just a focus on physical health, it’s an understanding that financial, emotional and social well-being are just as important.
So what are the elements of a holistic approach to well-being and what can businesses do to provide better experiences for their people?
- Physical Well-being
Time and money are the two big things that get in the way of people making healthy choices. By making healthy choices easy, accessible, and affordable in the work setting – so that people don’t have to go off and do something more, or take more time, or spend more money in order to do it – businesses can help promote these types of positive behaviours. Promoting physical well-being could be as simple as offering free fruit at work, providing fitness incentives like cycle-to-work schemes, or contributing towards employee healthcare insurance packages.
Change the work experience, the culture, the environment and you can make health part of the work day.
- Psychological Well-being
Psychological well-being is just as important as physical well-being when maintaining, healthy, happy and engaged workforces.
The opening up of conversation around mental health issues, particularly among millennials, means that employers should have a better insight into its prevalence and impact and how to devise approaches that help their employees get the help they need, should they need it. It’s important for teamwork as well. Studies have found that thriving individuals are 20% more likely to be part of thriving teams.
- Social Well-being
Engagement with a company is crucial to nurturing a productive workforce, and people are more likely to engage if they like the people they are working with. Building social elements into workdays can be as simple as calling group feedback meetings or just making the effort to talk to colleagues one-on-one, rather than via an email server. Team bonding exercises and casual get-togethers can help to achieve this.
There is also a need to take into account employees’ social needs outside of the office. Work-life balance means different things to different generations and people at different stages of life. Allow employees to achieve work-life integration by offering flexible schedules or enabling people to work from home so they can be more engaged with their families, friends and communities. If your employees feel better, if they look better, and if they have more confidence and higher self-esteem, they have better relationships and they’re going to be more engaged with their work.
- Financial Well-being
Money troubles can be a big driver of stress for individuals and typically goes beyond an individual’s actual compensation. Just over 50% of employees say that their financial situation contributes to stress at work.
Financial security isn’t just about pay – it’s also about making sure that employees understand how to manage that money. Programmes such as financial assistance or even auto-enrolment savings and retirement programmes, can help with alleviating financial-related stress that employees might encounter.
Balance vs. Wellbeing: A final thought
Achieving an ideal work-life balance can be seen as an ‘unlikely goal’ for many. You might feel like you’ve achieved balance one day, but it won’t last. Work will continue to interfere with life, and life will interfere with work. A last-minute deadline might prevent you from getting to your child’s sports game. You may miss an important meeting because you need to take your father to the doctor. If balance is your goal, you will surely fail.
A better goal or suggestion is to improve your well-being. People with higher levels of well-being are better able to handle the difficulties associated with trying to combine work and life. And, unlike finding work-life balance, enhancing your well-being is a more readily achievable goal.
There are two main dimensions that affect your well-being: feeling good and doing good. Feeling good is about experiencing positive emotions on a daily basis; doing good is about overall life satisfaction that comes from pursuing meaningful goals and making a positive impact. People who are high on the feeling-good and doing-good dimensions of well-being are thriving. They have both joy and meaning in their lives.
When you are thriving, you have psychological resources that help you deal with work-life conflict. Experiencing more frequent positive emotions boosts your energy level and self-confidence. Positive emotions help you think in more creative ways, so you can come up with solutions to better manage any work challenges.
Also, experiencing frequent positive emotions makes you more resilient. And when you have a sense of meaning in life, you are less likely to get stressed by day-to-day hassles. Keeping the big picture in mind helps to put things into perspective. What’s more, knowing that what you are doing matters, keeps you going.
So why not consider changing your focus. Focus less on balance, and try to boost your well-being instead. Increase the joy and meaning in your life so that you will thrive despite life’s challenges.
Keen to read more about productivity? Check out our comprehensive article which asks, “Are you and your business as productive as you can be?”
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