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Employee wellbeing 'now a key issue for HR'

News | HR | Employees | Company

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Employees can be a company's biggest asset, if they are deployed and managed effectively across the organisation. Particularly in a difficult economic climate, a hardworking, engaged and motivated workforce can make a huge difference for businesses of all sizes. As such, companies need to think about how they can maximise the productivity of each individual and of the teams they comprise. Every worker is different, meaning employers may need to be flexible about how they treat each individual case.

What is for certain is that employees are only productive if they are healthy enough to come into work each day and give their all. Staff members not only need to be healthy in body but also in mind. Should there be failings in either case, the chances of employee absenteeism, and the associated lost productivity, rises quickly. As such, employers need to be giving greater consideration to the wellbeing of their staff.

According to Oliver Gray, managing director of energiseYou, businesses should be looking to avert health issues before they start to impact on individual output and the overall bottom line. But rather than being proactive, many are continuing to take a reactive approach to wellbeing, seeking to help people only when they become sick or injured. Mr Gray argues that preventing these occurrences in the first place is key to maximising productivity and avoiding unnecessary costs.

"Successful organisations know there are huge benefits to be had from combining reactive health interventions, like private medical insurance, with proactive sessions to help employees really understand what simple changes they need to make to improve their health," he told HR Magazine. "The forward thinking companies know that by taking a more proactive approach, focusing on both physical and mental well-being, and promoting healthy ways of living they have a real opportunity to make a positive change to the health, energy and performance of their staff."

Mr Gray said this not only reduces the cost of reactive health interventions, but also increases positivity throughout the organisation. Employees feel as if their managers and company bosses are genuinely concerned about their welfare, and this can boost morale. "In order to deliver real change we need to move away from thinking about wellbeing as a standalone activity," Mr Gray told the news provider. "It is something that needs to be threaded through all talent management activities and that really becomes part of the culture."

He said that only by helping employees understand what simple changes they need to make to change their habits will organisations reap all of the benefits of healthy, energised, high performing staff. For instance, encouraging workers to take regular breaks can help avoid eye strain and headaches, while providing suitable seating and running training sessions on posture can eliminate back problems. Similarly, opening communication channels with all employees and encouraging them to flag up any issues can help avoid the build-up of stress and tension which can ultimately lead to lengthy absences from the workplace.

"By organising health and wellbeing sessions that are relevant, dynamic, engaging and informative employees will be motivated to take action and it is this that will enable them to perform at their best," Mr Gray stated. Businesses do not need to invest significant sums of money on these sessions, or even set hours aside during the week. They simply need to make employees aware of the issues, and most pertinently, the fact that support and advice is available should they need it. If employers can make their workers believe they are not on their own, this is half the battle won.

"Organisations that are taking a proactive approach and making employee wellbeing part of their culture with directors, managers and employees buying into the concept are reaping the benefits," Mr Gray told HR Magazine. "They are not only seeing a reduction in sickness absence and staff turnover but also an increase in performance, higher staff engagement and reduced healthcare costs." And in a difficult economic climate, this can be what makes the difference. Businesses need to operate as efficiently as possible, but without jeopardising output and turnover. If they can maximise the value of their personnel, they can go on to achieve so much more.


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 28th May 2012

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