Kim Lennon, Berry & Lambert’s HR Manager, shares her thoughts on why wellness in the workplace should be high on every company’s agenda.
I’ve been trying to remember which organisation uses the business strapline “Because we care….”
I guess the marketing impact is already lost because I can’t remember the brand it is associated with, however the sentiment is not lost as caring should be at the heart of every organisation, whether it’s in the sense of caring for the business the organisation is set up to deliver, or caring for the people who use the business or brand, or caring for the people employed by that business.
A law firm may not be an obvious choice in terms of a caring organisation but here at Berry & Lamberts Solicitors, we care deeply about the legal services we offer, the clients we work with and the people we employ. Caring encapsulates everything we do including looking after the physical and mental wellbeing of our employees, after all, we spend the majority of our time at work and it is important we are mentally robust to cope with anything life throws at us.
High on our HR agenda at Berry & Lamberts Solicitors is the plan to introduce a wellbeing programme, to support and promote the health of our employees. This could be anything from encouraging healthy dietary choices to flexible working policies. Wellbeing programmes at work are increasingly becoming part of the overall employee experience and value proposition. I would certainly prefer to work for an organisation with a wellbeing programme as this is a real indication that they care about their employees.
In the past, wellbeing programmes have been limited to large organisations with deep pockets and huge budgets and have been considered ‘nice to have’ rather than an employer’s duty to provide, but there is now more evidence about the positive correlation between employee engagement and business performance.
As we spend more than a third of our lives at work it’s inevitable that work culture and environment will have an impact on employee behaviour and lifestyle…and if employees feel cared about and supported, they will be more productive!
The benefits of employee wellbeing programmes extend far beyond physical health and there is evidence that employees with access to wellbeing programmes experience:
- Lower levels of stress
- Improved physical and mental health
- Improved financial wellness
- Improved self-image and self-esteem
At the forefront is awareness, both raising awareness and self-awareness.
Raising awareness can be simply be a matter of raising awareness of any financial, emotional and physical wellness initiatives an organisation already has access to.
Examples of financial initiatives could be access to an employee discount scheme, an eye testing service policy and a recommended provider (we have both at Berry & Lamberts Solicitors!).
Emotional initiatives could include unlimited annual leave which some IT companies have adopted, as studies suggest that unlimited annual leave can benefit overworked employees who can use the option of extra time off to de-stress and reboot. This may not be suitable for all organisations but it is certainly worthy of discussion. Gratitude and instant recognition schemes are also great work initiatives which not only support employees’ emotional wellness, but there is evidence of a direct correlation to increased business performance and productivity. Valuing and appreciating one another should be part of the work culture.
Finally, many organisations already offer physical wellness initiatives like access to gym discounts or flexible working policies. At Berry & Lamberts Solicitors, more than 26% of our workforce are part-time workers with an additional 26% working flexible working hours.
Raising awareness with employees as to what is already available to them is a strong first step which all companies should take. It doesn’t mean that you have to do everything, in some cases you enable your employees to take decisions for themselves by simply providing them with information, education and tools. Ultimately the way to measure success and value on investments is work satisfaction, employee wellbeing and business performance such as productivity and employee retention.
Here at Berry & Lamberts Solicitors we are taking the first steps to communicate what we already have which not all employees may be aware of and our Management Board is keen to look at what else and what more we can do to support employee wellbeing.
For more information and tips on workplace wellbeing visit www.mind.org.uk/for-business.