While wellness programmes have begun to replace pool tables and beanbags as the sign of a forward thinking workplace, business owners have started wondering whether or not they’ll really see a return on this kind of investment. For small business owners in particular, this is an important consideration to decide if their business can support a focus on wellbeing.
Poor wellbeing in the workplace is a lot more costly than some business owners might realise. According to a report by Business in the Community, 62% of managers have put the interests of their organisation over the wellbeing of employees regularly or often.
While that may seem reasonable, it could actually be costing the company money and working in opposition to those business interests.
Here are the costs of poor employee wellbeing:
1 in 4 British workers are affected by anxiety, stress and depression each year. And that’s in a normal year that hasn’t put additional strain on everyone globally.
Those effects add up to 15.4 days lost to poor mental health.
95% of employees who called in sick due to stress gave their workplace a different reason.
Around half of all long-term absenteeism is due to stress, anxiety or depression.
Presenteeism (when an employee is ‘working’ but unable to engage with the work due to poor wellbeing) costs businesses approximately 150% as much as absenteeism.
Those figures alone are quite telling about what a business stands to gain by investing in employee wellbeing.
The soft figures
In addition to direct impact on revenue, employee wellbeing initiatives have a great effect on other areas that impact your workplace, particularly around culture. Though it can be difficult to measure the changes here, they are often very visible. Here are three of the main areas that good wellbeing can improve:
Morale - Wellbeing initiatives focus on taking care of employees, reducing stress, and improving health. This improves outlook and employee morale.
Engagement - When employees are less stressed, they are better able to engage with their work and be fully present. That also enables them to think more clearly and passionately about how to do their job to the best of their ability.
Employee loyalty - In a world where employees are no longer expected to have linear career paths with the same company, encouraging employee loyalty can seem difficult. However, employees are more likely to stay with a company when they feel taken care of.
According to mentalhealth.org, a focus on wellbeing can increase productivity by as much as 12%.
This may seem low, but imagine not only being able to get 12% more out of your team each day, but also having them show up more often.
Taking care of employee wellbeing can also reduce the number of absences, particularly long term absences, that a business sees in a year. This means that wellness-focused activity can give you more time with a more productive team.
Wellbeing initiatives can increase your sales figures. This happens for a few reasons.
First, highly engaged employees are more likely to put extra effort and enthusiasm into the sales process and customers respond well to that.
Additionally, the brand loyalty that comes from employees whose employers look after their wellbeing means that those sales teams truly believe in the company that they work for.
In fact, studies show that companies with a focus on wellbeing see up to 50% higher revenue per employee.
As you can see, employee wellbeing can not only save you money, but also make you money.
It’s a worthwhile investment that you can easily implement going forward. And it can be done without sinking money into costly wellbeing programmes that don’t always suit the needs and abilities of small businesses. Some employee wellness ideas you can start with are:
Flexible working - Allowing employees to manoeuvre their work around their lives is a great way to start. It empowers your team to make decisions that will help them work when they are most focused and most capable.
Creating an inclusive environment - Inclusivity goes beyond diversity initiatives and is focused on creating a workplace that is supportive and open. You can begin with having frank discussions about mental health and stress. Another option is bringing in a mental health professional for training.
Be appreciative - This is the simplest way to start. Notice the good work that your employees do and be genuine in your appreciation of it. Not only is this a great way to boost morale quickly (who doesn’t love recognition?), but it also provides you the opportunity to practice gratitude and see more opportunities deserving of praise. This will improve your outlook too!
One last thing to note when asking if your investment was worthwhile, is to decide if you are basing the answer on return on investment (ROI) or value of investment (VOI). Both are understandable ways to make a decision, but it’s important to understand the difference.
With ROI, your focus is solely on the financial returns. With VOI, you take the soft figures, like engagement and morale into account as well. Although both are valuable, there is something to be said for taking a wider view.
No matter how you decide to measure it though, working toward better employee wellbeing is clearly an investment worth considering.
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