An ill thought out Employment Wellbeing Strategy is likely to be a black hole of time, energy and money. It’s not like buying materials or renting premises. There isn’t a fixed unit of improvement in wellbeing per pound spent.
It’s not about how much you spend, but how cleverly you spend it. A one-size-fits-all Employee Wellbeing Strategy would not be able reach those most in need of support and would bombard a whole load of other people with unwanted ‘help’.
So how do you make sure that you get the best possible return on investment when you decide to be proactive about improving the wellbeing of your employees? In this blog I share 3 simple steps to make sure that your money is well spent and repays you more than it costs you.
Here are the 3 steps in a nutshell:
Step 1: Initial meaningful contact that engages every single employee
Step 2: Extra training or support as necessary
Step 3: Focussed support where it is most needed
Step 1: Initial meaningful contact that engages every single employee
The functions of step 1 are to:
communicate to your employees why you would like to improve employee wellbeing and what your plans are to achieve this. For more details on this see How and why to communicate your Employee Wellbeing Strategy
start to get the buy-in from employees
ensure that the information about the benefits of your employee wellbeing strategy reaches everyone
give something of value to your employees (in terms of knowledge and skills)
gather information that will help you with steps 2 and 3.
It is essential that step 1 is designed in a way that will engage every single person. In order to achieve this, avoid putting the onus on your employees to come forward. Don’t say for example “We’d like to hear your thoughts, please get in touch with us”. For more information about this see 10 reasons why employees don’t speak up when they need help and 5 things you can do about it.
There are 2 components of step 1 (you can use either or both):
A well designed survey which acts as both a way of gathering information and a way of telling your employees about your aims and intentions. In all of your communications leading up to the survey and in the preamble of the survey itself, reinforce how the employee wellbeing strategy will benefit them. Give permission for them to complete the survey during works time. For those that don’t use computers at work or don’t have a smart phone or a computer at home arrange for them to get access to a computer. The survey must be anonymous and ideally you should use software which enables anonymous dialogue (get in touch with me if you would like any pointers on this).
Training such as ‘personal resilience skills’ to equip your employees with the ability to deal with stress and anxiety, depression and challenging situations and to bounce back from setbacks. An additional function of the training is to provide your employees with information about the various forms of support that are available to them in steps 2 and 3. The training should also be used as an opportunity to detect trends in thinking and to gather anecdotal information about where positive change is needed in your organisation.
Step 2: Extra training and support as necessary
The results that emerge from step 1 will inform the details of what happens in step 2.
The key component of this phase of your employee wellbeing strategy is issue specific training or workshops. This is a way of making the next level of support available and accessible to those who would like to take it up.
Issue specific workshops offer the opportunity for employees to learn more about and work towards resolving particular challenges that they may be experiencing. These might include topics such as:
improving quality of sleep
reducing stress and anxiety
getting in control of personal finances
reducing or stopping drinking
returning to work after maternity leave
Accessibility is paramount at this stage. It’s not just the content of what you are offering that determines the success of this step, but how skilfully you make it appealing and easily available to all those who could benefit.
Here are some tips on how remove potential barriers and make this support ultra- accessible so that you max out your ROI:
Make the process and the benefits simple, clear and easy to understand.
Make all of the information available through a variety of channels.
Minimise (or eliminate) any paperwork in the application process.
Make it unconditional - nothing expected in advance or in return and no justification needed.
Give time off work willingly for people to attend the workshops - don’t act as if you are doing the employees a favour and ensure that line managers are in alignment with this.
Have a ‘no questions asked’ policy.
Make sure managers (or anyone who interfaces with employees) are properly trained in the skills they need to assist with accessibility.
Offer confidentiality where necessary
In addition to the issue specific workshops, the information that you gathered in step 1 will most likely have highlighted areas where professional training could benefit managers. For example, if you picked up a trend that people are experiencing stress as a result of their line manager’s behaviours, you may wish to address this via soft skills training and making sure that the managers are aligned with your company values and procedures. It’s not uncommon that gaps in the skills of a few managers impact negatively on the wellbeing of many.
If the number of people in your organisation doesn’t allow for you to offer the above support in-house there are other ways you can get round this. See what is available to you locally or via the internet or jump straight to step 3 measures.
Step 3: Focussed support where it is most needed.
This is the stage where you reach those who are most in need of more focussed support. This might include, for example, coaching support for individuals or teams.
By following through steps 1 and 2 you are gently leading them by the hand towards the support rather than just expecting them to metaphorically put their hand up in the middle of a crowd and shout out ‘I need help’.
Ensure there is a mechanism for complete confidentiality at this stage.
This step can potentially involve the greatest cost per person however it is the most important and is likely to have the biggest return on investment. This is because the people who are affected by the issues which are addressed at this stage are the most likely to incur costs to your business through:
long term sickness absence
leaving your organisation and triggering the associated direct and indirect recruitment costs
negatively impacting on their team members
constructive dismissal claims
costly mistakes or misjudgements
The problems that are addressed at this stage are ones that are likely to be the cause of deep suffering to the individuals who are affected by them. They are the most sensitive of cases and by giving them the help and support they need, you will be making a difference to the most difficult to reach people. It may that they have been struggling for some time and whatever help has been available up until this point either hasn’t been accepted or hasn’t solved the problem.
As well as addressing problems that already exist, the support offered at this stage may help to resolve an issue before it leads to the employee suffering from depression, stress or anxiety.
So, if you are working hard to improve the wellbeing, make sure you are getting the biggest possible impact for the budget you have by following these 3 steps.
Don’t have an Employee Wellbeing Strategy? Get in touch with me to find out how I can help you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experience on this subject. Please use the comments box to share your views, ask a question or even to let me know if there's any particular topic you'd like to see a blog about. And of course if I can help you directly in any way, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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If you’d like to benefit your business by giving the gift of wellbeing to your employees get in touch with me. I provide training for Personal Resilience Skills, employee and executive coaching and consultancy. You can also download the free eBook 'A practical guide to employee wellbeing'.