Words by Sarah Green - CMHRINZ, Ruralco Group Manager People and Capability
There is a minefield of information out there around wellbeing in the workplace, strategies for this, policies for that, but as a business how far do you take it? If you are a smaller operation you may not have the endless funds to invest in specialist wellbeing programmes or give all your staff health insurance and gym memberships.
But you can keep it simple.
In any organisation it is my belief that wellbeing in the workplace starts with culture. It starts with how your staff feel every day, when they get up and come to work. Are they engaged? Are they passionate about your business and happy in what they are doing? As employers we can be conflicted, we can encourage healthy eating and exercise but ultimately those decisions are down to the individual, but what we can control is the culture in our workplace. We can educate, we can encourage, and we can create a culture where employees are engaged and where they talk to one another. Where we all strive for performance, celebrate success and importantly support each other when things may not quite go to plan.
The recent Workplace Wellness Report identified that New Zealand lost 7.4m working days to absence in 2018 costing NZ businesses $1.79bn. Of the factors behind absences, minor illnesses were the primary cause but interestingly, work-related anxiety/stress and depression increased by 15.8%, non-work-related stress was up by 12.6% and caring for a family member or dependent rose to 4th place for causal factors in the survey.
These survey results highlight the blurred line between home and work and our duty of care to our employees. Simple but effective practices in the workplace that ease the pressure at work can and will have a knock-on effect in building resilience in order to deal with life’s knocks when they occur.
Knowing you have a supportive workplace is key.
In the recent Deloitte “Health and Safety Leadership Survey” it identified that 28% of organisations provided an Employee Assistance Programme, while just 1% addressed the work environment as a resource to keeping their employees well both physically and mentally. Surely this is providing the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than addressing issues that as leaders we can have influence over?
As businesses we can all start with some simple tactics that cost nothing:
- Saying thank you.
- Talking – share your stories, your successes and your failures, let staff see that you are human!
- Encouraging regular breaks.
- Set up a committee – let your employees feel empowered to help each other.
- Don’t be afraid to speak about mental health – no one is immune.
- Be aware of pressure points and busy times in the business. Communicate with staff to let them know you are there and to see what they need.
- Lead by example – take your breaks, encourage holidays and turn your emails and phones off at night.