Here’s why your wellbeing at work plan isn’t working

Protecting and supporting the mental health of employees is no longer a nice to have but vital for the future of your business.

Lockdown and COVID-19 combined with economic uncertainty and social unrest has impacted employees immensely, with a rise in levels of stress, burnout, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and substance abuse.

The pandemic has affected people’s mental health in different ways and although many countries are now out of any restrictions, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact the pandemic has created on our mental wellbeing.

The subject of mental health and wellbeing is a big one so you may wish to start with management mental health awareness training.  That doesn’t mean to say that your wellbeing strategy shouldn’t include resources to support people.  It’s important that a holistic strategy is put in place to support all employees.  Everything from bipolar to financial wellbeing to eating disorders.

“We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.” – Brene Brown.

Here are the reasons why your wellbeing at work plan isn’t working…

  • No clear wellbeing strategy

For a wellbeing at work plan to work you need a strategy, a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve and how you will measure the success.  A strategy isn’t a bunch of training courses.  Yet many organisations don’t have a clear wellbeing strategy and are instead throwing jelly against the wall hoping it sticks.  Once you have defined your vision, then you can get to task on what needs to happen to achieve that vision.

  • Avoiding the numbers

There’s no point in rolling out wellbeing initiatives if you can’t measure the return on investment.  It’s time for HR to get wise to the commercial landscape and start measuring its spending to show the business the financial, strategic and operational returns of looking after its people.

There are lots of ways you can measure the return on investment;

  • Cost of absence
  • Number of days absent
  • Reduction in the number of accidents
  • Staff surveys
  • Number of long-term sick cases
  • Increase in sales
  • Reduction in the cost of private medical claims
  • Retention

INK Communications took advantage of our wellbeing portal survey function to survey their people when they came on board.  We helped them by creating questions that would measure their employees overall health, wellbeing and energy and assess the levels of stress and mental health.  This survey was run as part of the launch of the wellbeing portal into INK Communications so that we can measure the impact the wellbeing portal has on our good friends across the pond and assess the health of their people so that we can create more content to support them.

  • Not getting the CEO involved

Not getting the CEO involved.  Building a wellbeing culture starts top down.  A wellbeing strategy improves significantly when the leadership team is involved. Employees respond to leaders and you need your CEO to lead the change for a well-being strategy and programme that truly works. 

Wood MacKenzie, an oil and gas company, did a fantastic job of this when the ex CEO created a video speaking about his own personal experience of having to take time out of the business due to stress and anxiety, as part of the launch of their wellbeing strategy.  The response he got was outstanding and he shared how many employees had spoken to him after watching the video to share that they had experienced similar things.

The more we show our own vulnerability as leaders the more we break down the stigma attached to mental health.

  • Not making management mental health awareness training compulsory

We know that you want your managers and leaders to come to training on mental health willingly – and so do we!. But let’s imagine that you have had the CEO involved, and then you decide to go with a voluntary approach. We are not saying that either is right or wrong, but we are sharing what we have learnt from organisations who have opted for a voluntary approach and can share that the impact isn’t as profound. Managers who do come miss modules and don’t prioritise the training.

Sofology did a fabulous job when we rolled out management mental health training for more than 200 of their managers of ensuring that every single manager went through the training. The CEO at the time, Sally Hopson, was a great role model, involved from the start, turned up to every session and engaged and drove the initiative so that everyone spoke the same language.

  • Another HR initiative

Without great communication your wellbeing strategy runs the risk of being seen as another plain old HR initiative.  When launching your wellbeing strategy or running events or training courses get inside the head of your marketing team.  Ask yourself what your people need to hear to engage.  People are busy working in ‘fast paced environments’ so something needs to be of value to them to engage.  Use user friendly language when communicating with your people, wellbeing and jargon don’t go hand in hand.

  • A wellbeing week

Many organisations have embraced a wellbeing week where keynote speakers are given access to employees on various topics.  While this isn’t a bad thing, what do you do in the other 51 weeks of the year?  A wellbeing week is a great idea but it’s not going to change behaviour long term.  The brain needs to hear something more than once for it to stick.  Infact, the brain needs to hear something around 7 to 15 times to develop new synaptic connections.  That’s why consistency is key.  You don’t have to achieve everything in a short space of time. Slow and steady wins the race.

  • Poor organisational culture

“This is a fast-paced environment” is something we hear all the time!  But who or what is creating that environment?  Is fast-paced another term for not having enough resource to cope with demand?  Does it mean that employees are flat out and at risk of burnout?  All the wellbeing initiatives in the world won’t have the level of impact you desire if your organisational culture isn’t in the right place.  What expectations do you have on your people?  Remember we are not robots!

The topic of wellbeing and mental health is a vast one and we understand if you have never worked in this field, it can seem overwhelming knowing what solutions to choose.  That’s why we are here to help you so give us a call!

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