Why the key to employee productivity lies with their well-being

meeting-between-two-business-woman-at-a-desk-shallow-depth-of-fieldApple is not the only player in the health and wellbeing app market – and indeed may not even be the best one.

In January Bupa launched a fitness tracking social app allowing users not only to track fitness goals such as weight loss and increased speed and strength, but also participation in group challenges and even coaching. It’s hoped that showing the private healthcare company’s employees that it cares about them by creating ‘the first app designed specifically to support employers to improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce’ will reap dividends.

The ‘employee well-being’ market is competitive and busy, but companies know that productivity is inherently linked to an employee’s health and state of mind. Unhappy workers are generally less willing to work hard, or put themselves out. They may be less attentive and scrupulous in their work, and more likely to take time off. Simply put, they’ll do more, better.

The latest figures from the Labour Force Survey showed that the total number of working days lost in the UK due to ill health and injuries has plummeted from 39.8 million in 2000-02 to 28.2 million in 2013-14. According to MP David Lammy, writing in the Huffington Post, sickness absence costs the British economy up to £100 billion a year. The vast majority of days lost to work-related ill health were down to stress, depression or anxiety, or musculoskeletal disorders.

How can this be alleviated, if at all? For some employees it simply can’t, perhaps due to external features such as personal debt and family issues which they bring as emotional baggage to work every day.

Treating an employee with respect, listening to them, and showing why senior staff want and need them to come in every day is the objective every caring boss should strive for.

But there are multiple ways of making every employee from the senior manager to the office junior feel valued, assuming that a company is fulfilling its mandatory employment conditions such as providing a general duty of care, safe working conditions, paid holiday and others.

They include regular appraisals and progress plans, feedback, ideas sessions, and training programmes, as well as subsidised nights out, discounts on gym/crèche memberships, and bonuses. None of these facilities or activities are strictly necessary or even measurable, but they have a value that will translate to a more vibrant workforce.

More pioneering bosses are leading from the front, selecting senior staff who promote values of healthy living and installing wellness programmes as an integral part of the company fabric. The 21st Century business, catering for everyone from the millennial to the company veteran, will be an exciting and informative place of work (and sometimes play) where high morale is all-important.

Some ideas will work, and some won’t. Charity days. Nights out. Brainstorm and motivational sessions – you may be able to identify what works for your staff best. Entrepreneur magazine suggests several methods, including granting employees time off for projects they’re passionate about and creating a ‘Top 100 accomplishments’ list for workers, to recognise achievement.

Companies such as the BGL Group, for example, offer a blend of professional perks such as lunch and learn sessions, internal and external courses, through to free fruit, subsidised meals and an annual awards ball, via discounted insurance and child care vouchers. To find out more about working at BGL click here.

Perhaps the simplest advice for creating a workforce where well-being is a part of the company culture is one which existed long before companies installed games rooms and weight-loss programmes. Treating an employee with respect, listening to them, and showing why senior staff want and need them to come in every day is the objective every caring boss should strive for.

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