by Kate Pritchard, Head of Consulting at People Insight
The demands, complexities and challenges involved in running a startup can seem overwhelming. It’s a job that requires you to be on your toes at all times while balancing a lot of plates. You are undoubtedly competing with established businesses in a crowded market, and while you may feel passionate about the unique services you can offer, you still have a lot to prove while managing cash flow, finding the right talent, scaling the business and managing risks (including diversifying the business model, developing contingency plans and monitoring market trends and changes).
All this to say, as the owner of a startup, you have a lot of responsibility and not much in the way of spare time. Knowing this, employee wellbeing schemes may not be top of your priority list – but is there a financial reason you should prioritise them? Is employee wellbeing actually something that could provide real ROI while offering unique value?
Why is Employee Wellbeing Important?
You may appreciate and respect your colleagues, but you also have to be conscious of the bottom line. You need to know the business value of every process, which leads us to the question – when it comes down to it, why is employee wellbeing important? In what ways can it give your company an edge?
A study shared in the Harvard Business Review debunks the idea that employee wellbeing programmes are simply ‘a nice extra’, by demonstrating that a comprehensive, well-run employee wellbeing programme can offer a six-to-one return on investment.
But how exactly can such programmes provide an ROI? Here are just a few reasons that employee wellbeing is important for both the individual employee and the organisation as a whole:
1. Improved Employee Health.
Employee wellbeing programs can help employees improve their physical, mental, financial, and emotional health. By offering resources such as gym memberships, healthy meals and counseling services, employees can take care of themselves and maintain their health and wellbeing. This, in turn, can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity. It can also result in fewer sick days and unexplained leave.
2. Increased Productivity and Engagement.
When employees are healthy and happy, they are more productive and engaged in their work. Studies have shown that employees who participate in wellbeing programs are less likely to miss work and have higher job satisfaction than those who don’t. This can result in increased productivity, better work performance, and a more positive work environment.
3. Improved Retention and Recruitment.
Employee wellbeing programs can also improve retention and recruitment. Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation that values their health and wellbeing, and job seekers may be attracted to organisations that offer comprehensive wellbeing programs. This can lead to a more stable and engaged workforce.
4. Improved Corporate Image.
Organisations that prioritize employee wellbeing can improve their corporate image and reputation. This can be especially important for companies that operate in industries with a focus on sustainability, social responsibility, or health and wellbeing. By promoting employee wellbeing, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ wellbeing and attract customers who share the same values.
8 Ways Startups Can Promote Employee Wellbeing
So how can startups begin to look after employee wellbeing? Here are top tips to incorporate it from day one.
1. Develop a wellbeing Program.
Startups can develop a wellbeing program that includes initiatives to promote employee health and wellbeing. The program should include activities such as regular health check-ups, exercise classes and healthy eating options. The wellbeing program can also provide resources for employees to improve their mental health, such as access to counseling services.
2. Carry Out Employee Surveys.
Regular employee wellbeing surveys demonstrate to your workforce that wellbeing is a priority – it’s not simply something you are paying lip service to. What’s more, appropriately tailored wellbeing surveys ask the right questions to get to the heart of how employees are feeling, how recognised and valued they feel, how motivated they are, while providing you with real data to record and track. Delivered regularly, employee wellbeing surveys can give you snapshots over time to see how your measures are performing, how your employees are doing and where you can stand to improve.
3. Encourage Physical Activity.
Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health. Startups can encourage physical activity by providing employees with gym memberships or discounts to local fitness centers. Additionally, startups can organise group fitness classes, such as yoga or pilates, to promote physical activity among employees. Such group activities can be carried out at low cost, but reap great rewards in the long run, while creating opportunity for real team bonding.
4. Offer Healthy Snacks and Meals.
The food that employees consume can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. Startups can offer healthy snacks and meals in the workplace to encourage employees to make healthier food choices. Healthy snacks could include fruits, nuts, and oat bars, while healthy meal options could include salads and sandwiches.
5. Create a Positive Work Environment.
The work environment plays a significant role in employee wellbeing. Startups can create a positive work environment by fostering a culture of open communication, recognition and collaboration. The work environment should also be comfortable and well-lit to prevent physical strain on employees.
6. Encourage Work-Life Balance.
Startups can encourage work-life balance by offering flexible work hours and allowing employees to work from home. By offering flexible work arrangements, startups can reduce employee stress and promote mental health. Additionally, startups can encourage employees to take time off when needed to avoid burnout.
7. Provide Mental Health Support.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Startups can provide mental health support to employees by offering access to counseling services and creating a supportive work environment. Employees should feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns with their managers and coworkers without fear of stigma.
8. Lead by Example.
Finally, startups can promote employee wellbeing by leading by example. Managers and leaders should prioritise their own health and wellbeing and encourage their employees to do the same. When employees see their managers making healthy choices, they are more likely to follow suit.
Just as no two organisations are the same, no two businesses will approach and manage wellbeing in the same way – there are many ways to address wellbeing in the workplace. Not all of them are likely to be costly. However you decide to proceed, make it clear to your employees that they are a core and fundamental part of your organisation, that you value them and their contributions and you are taking measures to cater to their wellbeing. Transparency and communication are key, and once employees are confident that they are being looked after, they are likely to remain loyal to your business for the long run.
Kate Prichard is an employee experience expert and leadership coach at People Insight with over 20 years’ experience. At People Insight, Kate works with organisations to create effective listening strategies, and to interpret and act on employee feedback in order to improve engagement levels and optimise performance.