We’re currently living through very challenging times. The constant bickering over Brexit, political uncertainty like having a General Election in the mid winter before Christmas and the continuing austerity, are just a few of the factors that have led to a tangible feeling of angst in the UK.
This and other socio-economic-political factors have led to a global climate that doesn’t just impact the business – it has an impact on employees as people are finding stress and demands increase.
The tendency for organisations facing such challenges is to work harder on business objectives and cut back on what is deemed non-essential – increase output, and reduce overheads. This is where the wellbeing of its employees will suffer – as mental health is often a secondary thought in employers minds, even the good ones.
Employers will tend to push the ‘more button’ – first of all they want the same for less, then they want more for less. People don’t have a ‘more button; you can red line an engine for temporary acceleration, however, if you red line an engine all the time, eventually you’ll blow a piston. People are exactly the same. Every employee has the right to work in an environment that is safe and healthy – wellness is NOT a luxury, it is a right!
Consider that it wasn’t that long ago people worked a true 9am to 5.30pm. When they arrived at work their day started, and they finished when they left. As we are now the always on culture digitally connected 24/7 most people’s work days now starts when they wake and finishes when they go to sleep. Demand and expectation of the individual is greater than ever before. It is perhaps prudent then to consider the legal obligation of an employer: to protect their employees by conducting a stress risk assessment and act upon it to control those risks.
We are now starting to understand the true impact of poor wellbeing and how significantly it can affect an organisation, or society in general. The emergence of purpose led businesses has bought a seismic shift in the philosophy of how companies are built and run. Some of the biggest and most successful companies on the planet today didn’t exist or were just starting at the turn if the century. Companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix for example built successful organisations from the ground up, with a radical approach to culture and wellbeing and with their people at the centre of everything. They understood that their key asset is their people and the better we look after them the more effective and successful they are.
According to The Stress Management Society (www.stress.org.uk) the best practice approach is to perform a risk assessment based on the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) 7 Stress Management Standards approach, focused on Demands, Control, Managers’ Support, Peer Support, Relationships Role and Change or Wellbeing Research and Consultancy specialists, International Wellbeing Insights’ (www.wellbeing.work), 7Es Index which covers 7 Pillars of creating a culture of Wellbeing:
1) Engagement – are regularly, effectively and meaningfully engaging your workforce.
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2) Exemplification – are leaders and managers exemplifying the standards you wish to see across the organisation – particularly around wellbeing, work life balance, communication and culture.
3) Empowerment – are we giving our people the tools, skills and confidence to take responsibility, make decisions and contribute positively. As well as empowering to take charge of their own wellbeing.
4) Empathy – are we Empathetic to the broad and diverse needs of the modern workforce – considering diversity and inclusivity as part of this.
5) Encouragement – do your employees feel valued? Are we motivating them in a variety of ways? Have we considered both financial and non-financial rewards?
6) Embedding – have we embedded the value of wellbeing into our culture through processes, policies and procedures?
7) Evaluation – are we measuring success? Do we have tangible metrics? Do we business data that allows us to capture both quantitative and
qualitative data to show progress? This could be reduced absence, accidents and staff turnover, increased performance and productivity or better Employee engagement scores.