How to design the most effective workplace wellbeing plan for your employees

As organisations reopen their offices or contemplate shifting to a hybrid structure, the most common question is: what are the best ways to support employee wellbeing at my workplace?
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COVID-19 is the defining disruptor of our times. But the good news is that business leaders and decision-makers are determined to respond to it with clarity and empathy.

In most organisations, leaders genuinely want to help their employees manage the demands of work and family, and to make them feel valued at work.

In some respects, employers can’t afford to look the other way. The period since early 2020 has been immensely stressful for workers. Many companies cut salaries or jobs, leading to widespread financial uncertainty.

Surveys showed that incidence of anxiety and depression hit all-time peaks during this time. In addition to all this, work relationships and culture took a beating due to the sudden shift to remote work.

Owing to these reasons, employers are concerned that voluntary turnover could rise in the post-pandemic phase as the economy improves and employees find more job opportunities coming their way.

No surprise, therefore, that employee health and well-being are among the biggest priorities of employers today.

According to the 2021 HR Sentiment Survey by Future Workplace, ‘employee wellbeing and mental health’ was the #1 priority of HR professionals in the US.

A global survey of 1,000 leaders by Infosys yielded similar findings: investments in remote connectivity, and the safety and well-being of employees were among the top aspects of workplace transformation chosen by the surveyed employers.

Pillars of employee wellbeing

As organisations reopen their offices or contemplate shifting to a hybrid structure, the most common question on leaders’ minds is: what are the best ways to support employee wellbeing at my workplace?

In our experience, any employee well-being initiative with a good chance of success must be based on five pillars:

a. Science-backed: The programme must be created and driven by experts, or with expert oversight. In the case of emotional wellbeing, we are referring to qualified psychology professionals who can give employees the right tools for personal growth and professional effectiveness.

b. Holistic: The programme must be rolled out across the entire organisation, rather than in piecemeal form. It must also cover all aspects of the employee experience — from the time they join to the time they exit the company. And finally, it must include every parameter of emotional health — whether it is their relationships, their perceptions of job meaning and autonomy, their optimism, their lifestyle, their moods and so on.

c. Preventive: Proactive emotional health assessments help in surfacing workplace issues well before they become concerns. This could include anything from high levels of work stress, the lack of work-life balance, or conflict with a colleague or manager. Knowing the situation in advance helps businesses take better decisions before things spiral out of control.

d. Customisable: Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, employee interventions must be customised in the form of specific plans for individuals or teams to follow. Regular follow-ups ensure that the progress of the person or team is recorded and steps for course correction are suggested if needed.

e. Sustainable: To ensure continued positive benefits, the programme must rely on in-house owners (or champions). These are individuals who are trained in emotional well-being techniques and become the first line of response whenever anyone around them is facing challenges in coping with work or related aspects. Using technology (e.g., a community portal or an app) also helps sustain such conversations within the organisation over time.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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