There are huge opportunities for L&D to lead the wellbeing agenda post-COVID - providing the resources employees need to stay well and safe.
5 tips for improving employee wellbeing
Employee wellbeing is finally getting the attention it deserves. Businesses are recognising that stressed, unhappy employees aren’t as productive or motivated, and failing to support employee wellbeing will seriously impact morale and workplace culture.
Wellbeing in the workplace spans everything from the food you offer on-site to ergonomic furniture through to the mental health support you provide. Below, we’re going to look at some of the simple steps you can take to better support employees’ mental health and wellbeing, as these will work for remote, on-site or hybrid workforces.
1. Prioritise flexible working arrangements
Give your employees the flexibility to manage their own time and schedules wherever possible. Everyone will have different lives and commitments, so whether parents need time to drop their kids off at school or people need time off for appointments, ensure that everyone is set up to work as flexibly as is practical.
For instance, the current return-to-office (RTO) trend is pushing many employees to look for more flexible roles. Do your people really need to carry out their jobs from the office? Or do people need to work from 9-5.30? Many businesses are switching to core hours (say, 10am-3pm) when everyone is expected to be available, but outside that, employees are trusted to work the hours that work best for them, whether that’s an early start, a late finish or even splitting the work day in two.
This should also feed into actively encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Managers should ensure that employees aren’t working too much overtime and are taking suitable breaks. Consider creating a policy where no meetings are booked outside working hours (including lunch breaks) wherever possible so employees can balance their lives.
2. Recognise and appreciate good work
Does your business do enough to thank its employees or to highlight great work? If not, maybe it’s time to start!
This doesn’t need to be a formal recognition programme (think Employee of the Month) - in fact, it’s often best to start small. How about encouraging people to share ‘shout outs’ on Slack or your stand-up meetings to highlight colleagues who are doing great work? You can then send out a weekly or monthly notification via your learning and comms platform to share the good news, and people can like and comment on the post to share their support.
Usually, this type of effort needs to be driven by the leadership team. If senior managers can lead by example by recognising employee performance or effort, it’s more likely to filter down, resulting in a culture of celebration, appreciation and positivity.
3. Provide learning and development opportunities
For many employees, the ability to learn and grow in their roles is a must for their enjoyment of work.
But offering a single compliance workshop once a year as a tick-box exercise just won’t cut it. People want real opportunities to develop their skills and improve in their roles, whether that means learning new skills or levelling up their existing ones.
Providing a learning platform with highly relevant, self-directed learning ensures everyone has a constant supply of learning opportunities, which may be used to support career conversations or performance reviews.
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Learning and development may also take the form of mentoring, coaching or attending events. For instance, 5app’s developers have the opportunity to attend development conferences so they can stay up to date on the latest… erm… developments in their areas of interest, keeping them inspired with new ideas and innovations.
5app's development team at Pixel Pioneers conference in Bristol, UK
4. Foster a sense of community
In every business in the world, some teams are more sociable than others. Maybe that’s by design (a team of field engineers may very rarely be in the same place at the same time) or simply by the personality types attracted to certain roles (think about all the salespeople you know!) - but everyone should have the opportunity to feel like they’re part of your company’s community.
Regardless of teams or locations, ensure that every single person at your company is treated as a valued member of the community. A big part of that involves focusing on your internal comms - is everyone reading your internal newsletter? Is everyone engaging with your leadership team’s updates?
On top of the work itself, what are you providing in the way of social opportunities? If your workforce is remote or hybrid, that could mean inviting everyone to a quarterly event (as we do at 5app), setting up fun online events (such as quizzes or online escape rooms) or simply creating a new social channel in your chat platform for non-work-related conversations and bonding opportunities.
5. Create a culture of clear, honest communication
No business can completely remove work stress for its employees - unfortunately, that comes with the territory of work sometimes. But what we can do is try our hardest to reduce stress wherever possible, and that usually starts with clear, transparent communication across the company.
Employees don’t like to be left in the dark, and when things are left uncertain, the rumour mill gets to work, leaving everyone feeling nervous, on edge and suspicious. Instead, maintaining open communication channels (especially between leadership and employees) will make a world of difference.
For instance, Hemsley Fraser’s CEO, Lynsey Whitmarsh, frequently communicates to employees via video messages posted on their internal 5app platform. Posting videos rather than emails ensures that Lynsey can convey the right tone and put things in her own words, so everyone gets exactly the same message as it was intended. This helps build trust, keeps employees in the loop and ensures open dialogue, as employees can comment on Lynsey’s posts to ask questions, get clarification or offer feedback.
The better your communications, the better relationships will become over time across the company as trust is established.
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