Why employee wellbeing initiatives need to be more than skin deep

Some initiatives to improve employee welllbeing have proven popular, others have led to criticism.

Jon Gilbert

Oct 9th 2017

Why employee wellbeing initiatives need to be more than skin deep

Many organisations look to improve employee wellbeing by creating relaxed office spaces or by offering free food. Some of these workspace enhancements have proved popular, yet others have led to criticism – labelled as nothing more than superficial gestures.

When a well-meaning initiative of this nature falls flat, it tends to be symptomatic of a bigger problem. It’s a sign that employees don’t believe the organisation is genuinely concerned for their wellbeing.

A failure to do so could result in wider problems. For example, stress is now the number one reason for employee absence in the UK.  According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four adults in the UK will also experience a mental health problem each year, and a separate report by the NHS has shown that one in three sick notes handed out to patients are for mental health problems.

When you look at those statistics, it’s clear that most organisations will need to deal with staff experiencing mental health problems at some point during their working life. And if they do, it’s not just the individual in question that will be impacted, as other employees may see their workloads increase, experience higher levels of stress themselves and have their work-life balance impacted as a result.

There is also the cold financial cost to business. Time off due to mental health problems cost UK businesses a collective £26bn every year. Therefore, finding ways to support employees’ wellbeing benefits everyone within an organisation.

Catching problems early

From both the employee and employer perspective, if a staff member is experiencing stress or mental health problems, it is better that this is identified early. Accurate recording of absences can play a big role in flagging up the warning signs. For example, noticing that someone has arrived late to work three times in the past fortnight could lead to a conversation that reveals more than initially meets the eye.

By monitoring time and attendance, organisations can also spot patterns. This data could help HR teams expose potential flaws in the way a company operates. For instance, if it’s noted that absences routinely increase in the last week of the month there may well be a problem that needs fixing. This could reveal a correlation, for example, to when employees need to submit their monthly reports. If this is proving a source of stress, actions could be taken to take the pressure off staff.

Managing the solutions

The introduction of flexible working is a popular way to help relieve stress, allowing employees to change their working hours or work from home.  This enables them to spend more time with family, take part in sports or simply arrange to work when it best suits them. A CIPD study has found that more than half of flexible workers say that working in this way fosters a better work-life balance.

Unfortunately, flexible working can create an administrative burden if the right tools aren't in place to help track work patterns.

When time and attendance data is integrated with HR systems, it can make it much easier to handle flexible work patterns and help managers to monitor the impact of holidays, and other requests for absence.

Using time and attendance data and tools can prove crucial to improving the employee experience and the ability to spot potential problems and come up with the potential solutions. With the right systems in place, it’s possible to look after your employee’s wellbeing in a much more meaningful way. 

 

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