- Employees are a business’ most important asset: An increasing number of companies have a defined wellbeing strategy and many are embedding this into their business strategy.
- A proactive approach to employee wellbeing is crucial: This involves cultivating an environment which promotes people taking care of themselves and one another, while recognising and addressing policies and behaviours that inhibit this.
- Employee wellbeing initiatives should cover all aspects of wellbeing: Including physical, mental, social, emotional and financial aspects.
- When choosing wellbeing initiatives, think outside the box: Things like fertility assistance, financial wellbeing, menopause support and cancer care can have a significant impact on a surprising number of employees.
Employees are the lifeblood of any organisation; the most successful companies are those that recognise the value of their staff and proactively invest in their wellbeing.
According to a recent global wellbeing survey, employee wellbeing is a top priority for companies; this is despite uncertainty amid inflation, workforce erosion and concerns of an impending recession. Around 83% of organisations confirmed they have a wellbeing strategy, with 41% saying this is woven into their overall business strategy.
But what employee wellbeing initiatives should businesses be including in their wellbeing strategies? In this article, we discuss suggestions for employee wellbeing initiatives that have the potential to make a significant long-term positive difference to employees.
1. Mental health support
Around 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, and 76% of workers say they are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress. Comprehensive mental health support can contribute to employee wellbeing and reduce the likelihood and/or severity of mental health issues. This support can take many forms, including support helplines, talking therapy, workshops and app subscriptions.
2. Sleep workshops
Sleep supports nearly every system in the body, which is why a lack of quality sleep can affect focus, motivation and vigilance. It can also impact a person’s mood and, long-term, can increase the risk of chronic health issues. Sleep workshops can provide employees with knowledge and practical advice for promoting better sleep and managing sleep problems.
3. Suicide first aiders
It is thought that 9% of employees are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide and/or self-harm, while more than 700,000 people take their own life each year. Training employees as designated suicide first aiders in the workplace can help identify employees in crisis, and enable them to confidently intervene and create a safety plan.
4. Fertility assistance
Infertility affects around 1 in 6 people. In addition, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour and single women often experience barriers to family planning services and fertility treatment. Implementing an employee fertility assistance program affords all employees the opportunity to expand their family while promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, and confirming your company as a family-friendly employer.
5. Four-day work week
Businesses that took part in a four-day working week trial found that their staff were happier, less stressed and took fewer sick days. This working format can give employees a better work-life balance, including more quality family time and opportunity for physical activity.
6. Volunteering opportunities
Around 63% of UK employees receive no paid time off to pursue volunteering opportunities, yet being able to do so can make a big difference to an individual’s wellbeing. Volunteering empowers employees to contribute to society, while also improving their mental and physical health, and helping them to gain valuable skills.
7. Gym memberships and physical activity
Exercise has a wealth of benefits for physical and mental health. It can promote better sleep, improve mood and help individuals manage stress and anxiety. It also reduces the risk of certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease and stroke. Providing employees with subsidised or free gym memberships and classes can therefore contribute to their overall wellbeing.
8. Ergonomic workstations
Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are one of the most common employee health issues in the workplace. An estimated 470,000 workers in Britain suffer from work-related back pain, neck or arm strain, or joint diseases. Ergonomic workstations can make employees more comfortable and reduce the likelihood of them developing or exacerbating an existing MSK disorder. Ergonomic equipment includes keyboards, desks, chairs and computer mice; each of which can be provided to employees whether they work in the office or from home.
9. Unlimited paid time off
Giving employees unlimited paid time off grants them autonomy to make decisions that are best for their wellbeing without worrying about perceptions or a loss of income. For example, if they are experiencing a family issue, they can take as much time as they need to deal with it, rather than feeling compelled to be at work where they are likely to be less productive due to their personal circumstances occupying the majority of their headspace.
10. Cancer care
It is now estimated that 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. It is a disease that affects not only those who are diagnosed but also those who are close to them. Given that 36% of those living with cancer are of working age, providing employees with specialised cancer care support can help them navigate the physical and psychological impact of cancer, following a diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.
11. Diversity, equality, and inclusion training
Around 46% of employees say they experience discrimination, prejudice and/or harassment in the workplace. Racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and religious discrimination have all been cited as issues. Being subject to such discrimination can seriously affect a person’s wellbeing and, while some progress has been made, businesses need to promote more awareness of the issues marginalised groups face and provide training on how to operate as an inclusive workplace.
12. Menopause support
Menopause-aged women are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the UK workplace, with almost 80% of menopausal people in work. Menopause causes a range of physical and psychological symptoms which can last for several years, many of which women find uncomfortable, embarrassing or debilitating. Menopause support can give employees information and advice on coming to terms with and managing these symptoms.
13. Financial planning advice
Money worries are one of the biggest causes of stress for employees in the UK, with 1 in 4 having lost sleep about their finances. Providing employees with access to personalised financial planning advice can help to alleviate concerns by enabling them to tackle any current financial hardships and make well-informed financial plans for their future.
14. Private health coverage
Businesses should not overlook the importance of health benefits to employees. Private health coverage can not only give workers peace of mind that they can get help for physical health issues, but also supports mental wellbeing by alleviating worries about long waiting times, out-of-pocket costs and even the quality of care they’ll receive.
15. Right to disconnect policy
More than half of employees feel pressure to respond to work calls and emails outside of working hours or when they are off sick. However, this ‘always on’ culture can have a detrimental impact on employee wellbeing and affect their work-life balance. Having a stringent right-to-disconnect policy, which promotes no communication outside of working hours, can help employees to fully switch off from work and enjoy their free time.
16. Cooking classes
It was found that 17.7% of UK households experienced food insecurity in January 2023, which includes homes where the adults are in employment. Food insecure households are more likely to cut back on purchasing fruit and vegetables and this situation can be detrimental to physical and mental health. Engaging employees in cooking classes can give them useful advice on cooking healthy, well-balanced meals on a budget. Businesses can supplement this employee wellbeing initiative with food vouchers and/or supermarket discounts.
There are 1.3 million people in the UK who are part of the sandwich generation; a group of adults that have young dependents but also have ageing or ill parents that they support. Almost 27% of sandwich carers have symptoms of poor mental health, including anxiety and depression. Employers can provide on-demand caregiving support to their employees so that they have another pair of hands to help them with child and eldercare responsibilities.
If cancer care is one of the listed employee wellbeing initiatives that you think will make a big difference to your workforce, Perci Health can help. We enable employers to give employees affected by cancer access to leading specialists via our innovative virtual clinic. Find out more by booking a demo with us.
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