How to navigate workplace wellbeing options
Posted on 21st November 2023 at 13:18
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At Verve Healthcare, there is one question that we hear from clients time and again:
How do I know what to choose for my team to improve Workplace Wellbeing?
It's a difficult landscape with so many different options. What might work for one organisation or team might not work for another; each has a potential impact on organisational culture and employee satisfaction.
And so we were particularly pleased to see new research from the Society of Occupational Medicine which looks at exactly this issue. The whole report looks at how different interventions are performing at three levels. Using the SOM's definitions:
Primary (prevention) interventions aim to identify potential risks and hazards within the working environment to remove, reduce, or mitigate their effects. The emphasis here is typically on the working environment and the organisation.
Secondary (support) interventions predominantly focus on the individual and aims to support them to improve their levels of self-care, to better manage their working environment, and to mitigate the effects of poor working conditions.
Tertiary (restoration) interventions focus on the restoration and rehabilitation of workers struggling with their mental health and focus on the individual.
Seven questions an organisation can ask itself in order to take a more systemic approach to workplace wellbeing
Agai, this list is from the SOM's excellent report. We see the first four as 'looking inward', the next two as 'looking outward' and the final question as a check and balance to ensure that any initiative needs to come back to the overall objective.
What are we looking to achieve?
What are the factors that contribute to this?
Can we address these underlying factors?
Can we support our workers with what they do?
What is the evidence for the interventions being offered?
Who has the expertise to support us with this?
How do we know it will work?
The whole report unpacks this in detail, but our eyes were drawn to Appendix One and a discussion of to positives and pitfalls of six particular interventions, summarised:
The benefits and drawbacks of six workplace wellbeing interventions
Health promotion initiatives instils awareness about healthy lifestyle choices and fostering positive behaviours among employees. The potential outcomes include improved overall employee health, reduced absenteeism, and heightened productivity. However, challenges may arise in implementation, such as low employee engagement and the difficulty of measuring direct impacts on individual health outcomes.
Line Manager Training
Equipping managers with the skills to support employee wellbeing can be transformative, fostering a positive work environment and enhancing team dynamics. The ripple effects may include improved communication, better conflict resolution, and heightened employee satisfaction. Yet, the effectiveness of the training may hinge on the manager's receptiveness and ability to implement the learned strategies.
Mental Health First Aid
Training employees in Mental Health First Aid can lay the foundation for a supportive and empathetic workplace culture, enabling early intervention and support for individuals experiencing mental health challenges. However, sustaining the knowledge and skills gained from the training over time may pose a significant challenge.
Mindfulness training has the potential to empower employees to manage stress, improve focus, and enhance overall mental wellbeing. The envisioned outcomes include a calmer and more resilient workforce. Nevertheless, integrating mindfulness practices into daily routines may prove challenging for some employees, limiting the long-term impact.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Encouraging physical activity among employees can yield a plethora of benefits, including improved physical health, reduced stress, and increased energy levels. It also promotes a healthy work-life balance and contributes to a positive company culture. However, sustaining participation levels and ensuring equal employee receptiveness may present ongoing challenges.
Resilience training holds the potential to equip employees with the skills to navigate challenges and setbacks effectively, ultimately enhancing individual and team performance in demanding work environments. However, its effectiveness may be limited if it fails to address the root causes of workplace stressors.
In essence, each workplace wellbeing intervention offers a unique tapestry of benefits and potential drawbacks. HR managers and business owners should consider the specific needs and dynamics of their organisation when choosing interventions by working through the seven questions above. By understanding the nuances of each approach, they can make informed decisions that positively impact the wellbeing of employees and the overall workplace culture.
The whole report had us nodding in recognition - at Verve Healthcare we believe that proactivity is a crucial part of workplace wellbeing, and if HR managers and business owners can put in interventions that work for their own staff needs and reflect the complexities of their own individual settings then everyone reaps the benefits.
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