12 common mistakes that leaders make in relation to employee wellbeing

Have you consciously analysed the part you play when it comes to the wellbeing of your employees? If not, you could be undermining your own hard work and sabotaging the performance of your organisation, without realising it.

The common mistakes below are taken from my free ebook ‘A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing’. If any of these points resonate with you, download the book where you’ll find out what steps you can take. You can also learn more about how to create a watertight employee wellbeing strategy by signing up to the free webinar I'm hosting on Thursday 12 March 2015.

Here are 12 common mistakes that leaders make in relation to employee wellbeing:

Mistake #1:  Assuming that everything is going well unless they hear otherwise - Unfortunately the very people who would benefit the most from improved wellbeing are often the most disengaged and least likely to communicate any issues that need to be resolved. See ’10 reasons why your employees don’t speak up when they need help and 5 things you can do about it’

Mistake #2: Trying to solve a problem with the same thinking that created it - When embarking upon a new wellbeing and engagement initiative it is important to recognise that some kind of pattern break is needed. That could mean putting a new person in charge, setting up a new team or getting a fresh perspective by involving an external specialist.

Mistake t#3: Not creating ‘clean’ conditions -If your method of gathering feedback from your employees is not completely confidential, you could be unknowingly sabotaging your efforts.  People are likely to consciously or unconsciously hold back when they feel that there might be repercussions of any kind. In fact it even prevents them reflecting honestly with themselves, so the information is doubly ‘filtered’.

Mistake #4: Not creating the right conditions - Remember to consider the bigger picture and culture of your organisation otherwise trying to improve wellbeing can be like trying to walk uphill into a headwind!

Mistake #5: Failing to create a strategy - A disjointed attempt to improve employee wellbeing is like trying to fill up a leaky pot. If you’ve got gaps or conflicting elements then you could be wasting a lot of precious resources.

Mistake #6: Compartmentalising engagement and wellbeing - These two things are inextricably linked and should be considered either as one overarching solution or at the very minimum as two fully interdependent issues.

Mistake #7: Not communicating their intentions to their employees - If you don’t spell out to your employees exactly how they will benefit from any employee wellbeing initiatives that you put in place, or if you are not completely open about how the organisation stands to benefit how can you expect people to buy-in to your plans? See ‘Why and how to communicate your employee wellbeing strategy’.

Mistake #8: Not creating a budget - Wellbeing doesn’t just improve itself, in the same way that marketing doesn’t just do itself and pensions don’t just pay themselves. If wellbeing doesn’t take a high enough position in the leader’s values to warrant a budget, then it should come as no surprise if things don’t just improve by magic! BUT…… it’s not just about throwing money at the problem. To make sure that you get the maximum return on investment for every penny of your budget see ‘Maximise the ROI of your employee wellbeing strategy in 3 steps’.

Mistake #9: Thinking that their clients don’t know or mind how happy their employees are - It’s 2015!  If you are a B2C business, your customers are continually checking in with their conscience. And if you’re B2B, even your clients have to demonstrate to their clients that their supply chain has not got any skeletons in its closet. A bad reputation as an employer could be turning potential clients off.

Mistake #10: Measuring only the direct costs of absence and staff - Neglecting to consider the effects of presenteeism, reduced productivity, increased chances of accidents or errors, poor workplace relationships and other things, mean that poor wellbeing can be dragging down organisational performance in a hidden way.

Mistake #11: Focussing on finding out specifically what the problem is - This tenet of conventional wisdom is one that can waste a lot of time and energy and actually make many problems worse.  Much more good can be done by letting go of ‘trying to get to the bottom of things’ and instead equipping people the skills they need for creatively solving their own problems.

Mistake #12: Thinking that their organisation’s reputation as an employer will sell itself - Many organisations miss the golden opportunity to chart and share their employee wellbeing journey with the rest of the world. If harnessed right, this can be one of the most powerful and cost effective marketing tools you have. And it requires very little extra work or budget. If you’re going to the effort of improving wellbeing, it’s logical to create a case study with robust evidence of its success. Use this gift of an opportunity to involve organisations such as Investors in People, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), industry press and academic institutions.

If you’d like to learn more about the positive steps you can take ‘A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing’ will give you some great insights and loads of practical tips.

Saffron Grant specialises in improving business performance by improving employee wellbeing. She provides resilience training, executive coaching and can help you to create the perfect Employee Wellbeing Strategy for your organisation.

Saffron is the author of A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing - How to create your strategy’ which can be downloaded for free here. You can access her new book here: 10 Steps to Resilience - A step by step guide anyone can use’.

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