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Employee wellbeing: top tips for HR professionals

11.26.2013
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Companies all over Asia struggle to keep their workers happy and healthy. Japan’s workforce has some of lowest engagement rates in the world and problems like depression and insomnia are becoming increasingly common in India and Singapore, where competition for jobs is fierce.

But making sure your employees are happy and healthy isn’t just a nice thing to do: it has a direct impact on productivity levels, business costs and retaining your best talent.

Given how expensive and time-consuming finding new talent is, HR professionals are starting to realise that it makes a lot more sense to take care of the people they already have. Here are some of the key areas to focus your attention on if you’re serious about employee wellbeing…

According to the results of a study by recruitment firm Michael Page, 81% of companies try to help their staff achieve a better work-life balance and 90% of HR leaders are actively looking for ways to make employees happier to make sure they keep their best talent.

There will always be deadlines to meet and targets to achieve, but it’s important for your staff to feel like they’ve got a healthy work-life balance which allows them to get enough sleep, take regular exercise and see their friends and family.

If your staff don’t need to be in the office 100% of the time, why not offer flexi-time and allow them to work from home?

Commuting to work can be a huge source of stress, but modern technology like cloud computing and mobile devices means that workers don’t have to be in the office to do their jobs. As long as you have processes in place to make sure they’re doing their work and are contactable during working hours, offering flexible working arrangements is a relatively easy way to make your staff happier and feel more in control.

Presenteeism

Presenteeism is a big problem in many offices. According to a Management Today article, despite having the technology to work from home most Asian worked in countries like Korea and Japan aren’t taking advantage of it because of presenteeism.

Even of they’ve finished their work for the day, many workers wouldn’t dream of leaving before the boss. But presenteeism doesn’t make your business more productive, it just makes people work longer hours, or come in and spread their germs when they’re sick because they’re too scared of being pulled up by management.

Changing the culture of your office is no easy task, but setting targets based on achievements and outcomes rather than hours worked is a start.

The office environment

Google and Facebook, two of the world’s most successful technology companies, make happiness a priority by spending a huge amount of money on ping pong tables, basketball courts, swimming or even sushi bars to make being at work more enjoyable.

You don’t have to go as far as them, but if you’re committed to having a happy and healthy workforce, think about creating a break-out area where staff can relax, finishing slightly early on a Friday afternoon, introducing more greenery with a few plants or other fun initiatives.

Healthy workers

Long hours and a sedentary job can be a recipe for unhealthy workers, so try to do your part to support them in making healthy choices. As well as offering health insurance as part of their package, why not order a regular fruit box for everyone to help themselves to? Installing bicycle racks and showers for staff who want to run or walk to work is another easy win.

And it’s not just about their physical wellbeing. Stress is a big problem for companies: it reduces productivity, is a major cause of office ‘sickies’ and if it becomes a chronic problem, a company could lose its best talent if they get burnout and have to take extended leave or quit altogether. 

Combat stress by making your employees feel like they have a certain amount of control in their jobs and encourage them to speak up if they feel their workload is becoming unreasonable. If they do need to take some time off, have strategy in place to support them when they’re ready to return to work.

Employee rewards

Consider thanking employees for their hard work in ways other than a cash bonus, especially when budgets are tight and a large cash bonus isn’t possible. Setting aside money for a team lunch, an annual party, more training or other benefits can help make people feel valued and improve the working environment.

Stamp out office bullying

An office bully or a poor management system can often be the source of workplace misery, and the problem is more widespread than you might think. A 2012 online survey found that 24% of workers in Singapore believed they had been victims of bullying.

Make sure there’s a system in place which allows staff to give and receive honest feedback and makes them feel comfortable reporting any issues to their line manager or perhaps someone else if their line manager is the problem. Having a grievance procedure to help deal with problems in an open, professional forum can help tackle bullying or unreasonable behaviour.

But prevention is better the cure, so have a code of conduct that everyone knows about and raise awareness throughout the company of the need to treat everyone, from the cleaner to the boss, with the same level of respect and fairness.

How does your business take care of your employees’ wellbeing?

Additional References:

http://thegallupblog.gallup.com/2013/11/engagement-should-be-fourth-arrow-in.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Burnout-rate-spikes-as-India-Inc-battles-stress/articleshow/26226094.cms

Published at DZone with permission of Paul Andrews, author and DZone MVB.

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