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Face2Face: Wellbeing in the workplace

Each year mental health and stress related issues cost the UK economy
over £6.5 billion, but thanks to increased awareness, employers are putting
measures in place to support their people.

Jenny Heyes from Napthens’ People Projects Team joined Chris Bird of the Running Bee Foundation to discuss how wellbeing should be placed at the heart of every business.

Jenny Heyes (JH): “Employee wellbeing is a priority for many of our clients and not just a buzzword. Although it is “on-trend” we’ve seen that via our People Review meetings, a service where we audit a business’ HR function, practices and policies, clients are increasingly committed to looking after employees’ welfare.

“Research has also shown that a “well” workforce leads to increased
productivity and employee engagement which reduces absenteeism, so employers should invest in wellbeing initiatives to support long term objectives rather than it being a nice to have.”

Chris Bird (CB): It’s not a case of just getting the best out of people. It’s the responsibility of any business owner to ensure that their team do the best for themselves and feel good about who they are and the environment they work in.

JH: “Over the last two decades, the world of work has changed because of technology, social media and economic challenges – all factors which can impact a business and its employees. Businesses need to move with the times and a focus on wellbeing can provide competitive advantage. If we think about
millennials they really want a more holistic working experience, placing
a greater value on those intrinsic elements.”

CB: “I agree, we live in a fast-moving society and there are many stresses and strains on people at home and at work. Employers need to understand that their employees have a life outside of work that may be very challenging. As an employer we can support our people by making the work environment happy,
healthy and supportive.”

JH: “Our inaugural Wellbeing Conference saw 80 business leaders learn about wellbeing but also understand the variety of initiatives and strategies available. Wellbeing is such a far-reaching subject there are many HR activities which can support people. I find that the People Review service which we offer helps our clients to identify these keys areas to ensure that there is a joined-up approach to all the procedures and initiatives that can
help their people.”

CB: “There are many organisations out there that can help but first it must come from the top. The culture of the business or organisation can’t be just to implement a health and wellbeing programme. Business leaders must want it, believe it and champion it.”

JH: “Employers need to start by reviewing current well-being initiatives and implement what is relevant. This could start with small but powerful actions such as fruit bowls, a water cooler or even walking clubs at lunch time.
The organisation’s culture needs to be considered and I’d always recommend getting the input of employees, so you can understand their wants and needs. This will also help them buy into the initiatives ensuring they are sustainable and effective.”

CB: “Be honest with your team. Find out how they feel and more about their challenges, health, needs and desires. In my case I ensured I was honest with my team by sharing my mental health issues. Showing my vulnerability but still able to lead a very successful business in a challenging sector gave the team an open door to share their experiences too. We have a running club, gym memberships and a mental health first aider / champion and I have an
open-door policy. No matter what the problem – at work or at home, they can talk to me.”