Teresa Boughey, Founder & CEO, Jungle HR discusses ways in which companies can ensure that they are prioritising the wellbeing of their workforce.
We need to move away from sickness and absence and place the focus on health and wellbeing. Often health and wellbeing are viewed as a tick box exercise and/or a legal requirement/obligation instead of an essential way to ensure the inclusive wellbeing of your workplace. Similarly, it’s important to take care of employees after they return to work from absence and to ensure they are supported.
Whilst there are, of course, cost implications associated with employee absence, it’s also important to take into account the human factor; to explore the impact of any absenteeism and take care of the people involved. This article will offer guidance on how to put health and wellbeing at the top of your agenda.
A healthy workforce is a happy workforce and leads to reduced absence, higher employee engagement, and improved business performance. Employee wellbeing should be at the heart of every organisation but it’s still very common for absenteeism to be a key people metrics, as opposed to measuring employee wellbeing.
Whilst absences can and do have a detrimental impact upon the productivity and output of a business, especially if there is only a small team of employees, it is important that the complete wellbeing of employees is prioritised. By considering every aspect of an employee’s wellbeing and what the root causes of any absences could be, you will limit any unnecessary days lost as well as demonstrating to your team that your care goes beyond just when they are already unwell, by preventing any events within your control from ever happening.
Getting to the root cause of any absence is important. The focus for many companies when it comes to absence management is to focus on their approach to dealing with an employee once they’ve had a period of sickness absence, rather than focusing their efforts on creating a culture whereby employee wellbeing is central. Many companies align disciplinary procedures with their absence management policies, which can result in employees triggering formal disciplinary proceedings for repeated absences. Whilst in some cases such action may be justified, in some instance’s absence can be for some other ‘masked’ reason, such as time off to care for dependants or could be due to workplace disputes.
The aim for any organisation should be to create a working environment where individuals are free from unnecessary pressures and where every individual is treated with respect and dignity.
Here’s a few places where you can explore health and wellbeing for your employees.
Technological advancements do provide great opportunities for interconnectivity, however the ‘always on’ mentality that’s been created with the constant need to check emails, respond to voice messages and the constant demands of manager requests or client queries can often result in burnout and stress-related symptoms. Companies who introduce initiatives such as Right to Disconnect and/or email free days may go some way towards addressing the long hours culture that is often created and can lead to health and wellbeing challenges. The Mindful Business Charter supports mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, acknowledges the changing working culture patterns, and details a set of principles which focuses on the improvement of communication, respect for rest periods, and appropriate delegation of tasks.
Mental health has for many years gone unnoticed or has been an unspoken area of concern for employees. The ability for employees to feel safe and talk about challenges that are being faced without the fear of stigma or retribution is important. More recently organisations have started to recognise the benefits of having trained ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ within their organisations, which is a positive step towards acknowledging mental health as a condition which may affect your workforce and putting measures in place to ensure those who are suffering get the support they need.