Published: 25th May 2023
As an employer or HR professional, there’s no avoiding the topic of employee wellbeing. Whatever approach your business takes, it’s a topic filling your news feeds and inboxes daily.
The message is being received, with businesses understanding the value of nurturing a healthy and resilient workforce. Our recent survey of over 1,300 UK employees found that 81.25% have access to mental health support at work.
While we’d love to see that number at 100%, it’s a massive step in the right direction.
Why Employee Wellbeing Matters
As part of our research, we asked our employee respondents how much time they’d taken off work due to mental health issues in the past year. 16.78% had taken 3 – 5 days, and 10.81% had taken 6 – 10 days off work due to mental ill health.
ONS data from 2022 estimated that 185.6 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury – a record high! This averages 5.7 days per employee. As such, out of the employees taking time off work for mental ill health, 10.81% were above average – and this is without considering time taken off due to sickness.
With our research finding that 40.97% of employees felt like there wasn’t anyone at work they could talk to about their mental health and 32.88% experiencing ‘mental health challenges at work’, these high figures aren’t surprising.
Mental ill-health leads to employees taking, in some cases, a higher-than-average amount of sick leave, so it stands to reason that supporting employee mental wellbeing will help reduce it.
When Deloitte publishes figures stating that mental ill health cost UK employers £56bn in 2020-21, there can be no debate about the importance of employee wellbeing.
Increase Employee Retention
Mental health research conducted by Deloitte found that of employees surveyed, 28% left a role in 2021 or were planning to leave their jobs in 2022. Of that 28%, 61% reported that poor mental health was the cause.
When you show your employees that their wellbeing matters to you, you benefit from improving their mental health and loyalty towards the business.
Boost Employee Engagement
“Engagement and wellbeing are reciprocal - each influences the future state of the other.” (Gallup)
Our research for our eBook, The Mountain of Lost Benefits: Making Benefits Matter, tells the same story, with 76% of our employee respondents saying they feel more motivated when their organisation is supporting them.
The phrase ‘wellbeing washing’ applies to organisations that treat wellbeing as something they need to be seen to be focusing on – ticking a box.
For example, you may offer an Employee Assistance Programme as an employee benefit. It’s an impactful service, but unless you embed the wellbeing ethos into your business and prioritise employee wellbeing from top to bottom, it is just ticking a box.
Employee Wellbeing as a Business Strategy
At this year’s Employee Engagement Summit, Sodexo Engage’s CEO, Burcin Ressamoglu, hosted a keynote on this subject and defined the steps businesses should take to create an employee wellbeing business strategy.
Ownership of Leadership
Ownership isn’t just about business leaders recognising their role in supporting employee wellbeing and the benefits that follow when it’s prioritised. Leaders must set an example by prioritising their wellbeing needs. They, too, need to be healthy to be at and do their best for their people and organisation.
Once the business has committed to creating a wellbeing strategy, it must be managed like any other initiative or project. That means setting clear roles and KPIs and defining overall accountability.
Measurement & Feedback
During the planning and implementation stage, creating a focus group to gather feedback from your employees is beneficial. Once implemented, it’s essential to regularly measure engagement and wellbeing through surveys to ensure your strategy achieves the desired results.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We’ve produced several blogs on DE&I. If you’re yet to establish a DE&I initiative, you will find this one useful: How to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.
The research on DE&I all points to the same thing: everyone benefits.
Half of the companies with diverse management report higher profits, and 73% of those with gender equality practices have ‘higher profits and productivity’. What’s more, inclusive companies are ‘more likely to lead and capture new markets’.
Read more about the importance of inclusion here.
In a survey that included Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials, 70% of employees said that training and development opportunities were a factor in their decision to leave or accept a role.
Having a clear career path mapped out provides employees with a sense of security, which, especially in the current climate, positively impacts their wellbeing.
Reward & Recognition
A subject we talk about often: how a robust reward and recognition strategy can boost employee wellbeing. 84% of HR leaders agree that embedding an employee reward and recognition platform and strategy boosts employee engagement and retention rates.
“Employee benefits, when chosen carefully. can also lead to stronger employee commitment and engagement.” Professor Amanda Kirby, The Mountain of Lost Benefits
Our blog on Bridging the Generational Divide in the Workplace discusses how to make your financial wellbeing benefits inclusive. To be most effective, wellbeing benefits must also support employees’ physical and mental wellbeing – creating an end-to-end holistic solution.
Have you read our eBook, The Mountain of Lost Benefits: Making Benefits Matter? We dived deep into why the mountain exists, and here’s a snippet of what we found:
12% of employees didn’t know how to access the benefits that are on offer
29% don’t know where to find information
27% don’t know who to ask for information about benefits or rewards.
Culture & EVP
When employee wellbeing is lived, breathed, and practised at all levels, it becomes part of your culture. Once there, employers can enhance their employee value proposition (EVP), of which culture and values are essential components.
A strong EVP will speed up the recruitment process and create an engaged workforce that goes the extra mile, giving you an edge over your competitors while boosting productivity and profitability.
Embed Employee Wellbeing into Your Business with Sodexo Engage
Sodexo Engage has been helping businesses to benefit from a cost-effective and sustainable employee wellbeing strategy for over 60 years. Whether you’re starting from scratch or aiming to enhance the employee benefits offering available, we can help. Arrange a call today to find out more.