Health and wellbeing in the workplace - how important is it for employers?

Health and wellbeing in the workplace - how important is it for employers?

by Jim Lawson, Wosskow Brown Foundation

The CIPD (voice of HR professionals)  puts workplace health and wellbeing as one of the key jigsaw pieces for organisations, and identifies culture, leadership and people management as key components.

Cultivating a healthy culture, underpinned by leaders with high emotional intelligence and managers with well-developed people skills can result in good organisational ‘wellbeing’ which in turn delivers highly engaged employees.  Engaged employees deliver great service.

Therefore there is a direct correlation between healthy employees and organisational performance. Switched-on leaders already know this. However, with the increase in the number of people with mental health challenges, there is a shift from ‘workplace wellbeing ‘ as something that is good for bottom-line profit to a subject on which more employers are engaging in as it is ‘the right thing to do’.

Guidance exists for employers to help them embed a holistic health and wellbeing approach that fits an organisation's needs. Having an effective employee wellbeing strategy isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach  and should be based on the unique needs and characteristics of the workforce.

I am fortunate in my role to have witnessed  a dual coaching role to helping people back into work. One coach focuses on the practicalities of a job search, whilst a ‘wellbeing’ coach supports the client’s mental health and general wellbeing.

One client who, in her earlier career had held responsible roles, had gone through some personal challenging times, resulting in long periods of unemployment, low confidence and low self-esteem. Supported by this dual-coaching model she made a successful return to the workplace. The success of this dual-coaching model amplifies the importance of health and wellness for employers.

In the workplace, whilst enlightened leadership is important to a healthy workplace, senior managers have an important part to play as good role managers, whilst line managers are the most likely  group to engage directly with the workforce on health and wellbeing interventions if they see leaders actively participating.

On the assumption that many organisations are not engaging in the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace we need to look at how seriously the business case for it is being taken.

A business case is persuasive if it's based on the aims and values of the employer. A good starting point in convincing senior management to integrate a wellbeing approach may be through a pilot project or looking at examples of current good practice in the organisation.

Finally, as with most successful initiatives, it’s usually a team effort based on willingness, resilience and determination. Larger organisations are now reporting annually on human capital management and this usually entails  a measure on the health and wellbeing on its employees. 

So, while much still needs to be done on the health and wellbeing agenda within organisations, there is evidence of good  progress being made.

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