Being a business owner, thinking about the wellbeing of my employees is part of the territory but when I was asked to write a blog about my experience having worked in the business for over twenty years I realized a couple of things:
1) I have great intentions and love my staff to be happy at all times but because of limited resources and other priorities (namely, the bottom line) I probably do not invest as much time in this area as I should
2 ) If I really want wellbeing in my workplace I need to start with engendering this within myself. The two are not mutually exclusive!
3) There are actually real commercial benefits to thinking carefully about this when running your business such as improved morale, lower attrition, higher productivity, and increased profitability
4 ) It’s a different world with different people to the one I got into over two decades ago and I am out of touch!
So, here are my words of wisdom (or lack of) and some of the things I have been considering given I do not have the resources of Apple or Google:
- Know your vision and values
Creating a collaborative culture, with philanthropy at its core, is likely to be well received by staff. Having a clear vision and brand values is important but those dripped down from a lofty boardroom decades ago are less likely to be respected. Engage with employees before writing your brief. You will get way more buy-in and take off those values. Keep talking about it and make sure you explain.
- Ask the question
Get an insight into current wellbeing levels and feedback on how to boost employees’ levels of motivation and morale. Don’t assume that because they are talkative in the office or crack a joke here and there this is the case. I have learned from bitter experience what you see is often not what’s going on.
- Work smarter/harder
Look at processes, workflows, use of technology, meeting rooms, facilities for flexible working as a way of increasing productivity and not just longer hours or more pressure. I also use the phrase smarter and harder because I believe there is a misconception that people who work smart don’t work hard. People who work smart may not do the longest hours but they have spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to be successful and how to increase productivity in a shorter space of time using good delegation, prioritization, planning and time management to help them along!
- See the light
Believe it or not natural light makes a big difference to people’s general demeanor, so bring the great outdoors inside. Workers who have outside views are likely to be up to 25% more productive, according to research. Exposure to natural light increases productivity by 18% and better lighting, in general, pushes up work rates by 23%. I am sitting at home looking out into my garden as I write this piece and I am definitely feeling the joy of the autumn sunshine and believe me your staff will feel the same!
- Turn up the volume
Try and keep your office environment as lively as possible and get people smiling. If you are in my line of work or similar you will know sometimes things can be stressful so make sure you encourage an environment where there is communication, support, empathy, positive solutions and most of all one that does not take itself too seriously. Depending on your taste of music (leave out the music with explicit or offensive language, if possible) get the tunes playing in the background. People like to whistle whilst they work, so encourage an atmosphere to enhance the environment.
- Focus on helping people perform and be the best on themselves
If your staff are performing well and feel like they are effective in delivering to their job briefs this will contribute to their wellbeing. On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence which suggests that poor performance in work and leads the stress and the type of issues with health associated with this. I have five key ways of trying to help my team achieve success in work:
- Positive Reinforcement
- Get fit for work
There is an old saying that a healthy body promotes a healthy mind (or is it vice versa). It’s definitely a good idea to encourage yourself and your staff to take time out to look after their health. It’s not just about hitting the treadmill but there are so many enjoyable things people can do to be healthy whether this is sports, walking, dancing, swimming or riding a bike. If you can offer benefits that support some of these activities such as corporate discounts all the better!
- Get your five-a-day/Diet
Keep the doctor away by helping your employees to get their five-a-day. By providing a café with healthy meal options, a juice bar, free fruit or even just somewhere for people to prepare good food, you’ll be helping them to eat well and keep their brains and bodies awake and alert. Also, encourage your team members to use break-out or relaxation areas where people can go to get away from their desks, get a change of scene, unwind or think creatively.
- Work on the move
Working nine to five, and only ever in the office, is a thing of the past for many people. Thanks to technology, people are increasingly getting their work done away from the office and at all times of the day and night. Consider offering flexible working hours and the ability to work from home, and on the move, in a bid to increase productivity.
As I have already said, I am a still working on the ways that can promote wellbeing in the workplace and have to remind myself to take my own and my team’s wellbeing seriously, but writing this piece has definitely given me some more time to think about how to improve wellbeing and got you think about this too!
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