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Want to supercharge your productivity? Invest in employee wellbeing

8th September 2019 Print

Your employees are your most valuable resources. No matter what your skills or talents as a manager are like, you need employees to manage if you want to turn those talents into profits. There are lots of good managers out there - effective managers who are able to hit their targets and tick all the right boxes to keep the head office happy, but this is not what makes a truly great manager.

If you aren’t actively working to help your employees reach their full potential, you will never be able to get them to give you everything that they are capable of. You need to do more than just push them to work more. You might be able to inflate your numbers a bit or temporarily raise your productivity by taking a hard-line approach, but this is never sustainable.

Far too many managers are chasing short-term gains at the detriment of long-term growth. Sometimes this is because their managers are demanding results and demanding them now. When this occurs, it is up to a truly good manager to stand firm and to resist any push towards doing something that is ultimately going to be detrimental to productivity and profitability.

If you want to do more than just temporarily boost your productivity, if you actually want to grow it in a sustainable way, you need to use the carrot, not the stick. You can force someone to work harder by standing over their shoulder and watching them like a hawk to ensure that they are working non-stop, but at the end of the day, you are going to have a very stressed and unhappy employee.

Improve Their Health, Improve Their Performance

Obviously, a healthy person is going to be happier than a sick person. But the issue is much more nuanced than this and the benefits to both the employee and the business of a healthy worker are hard to overstate. First and foremost, a healthy worker is going to be much less likely to take time off for illness. This isn’t just about their attendance though; an employee who is absent more frequently will miss out on important meetings that are held in their absence and won’t be part of any strategic planning that occurs during that time.

An employee who is absent might also end up inadvertently shifting some of their workloads onto a colleague. That colleague is then having to complete their own work and someone else’s. This means that either their productivity has to take a hit or they have to work harder to compensate. In the long-term, this can have a corrosive effect on team morale and employee relationships.

Mental health and physical health are both intimately linked; they feed into one another in a number of complex ways. If one aspect of your health is suffering, it will drag the other side down with it. Studies show that people with depression are more prone to physical illnesses, and the same is true for a wide range of other mental health conditions. Similarly, people who suffer from physical illnesses for extended periods of time are, understandably, more prone to becoming depressed.

Healthier employees will be present more often and will perform much better in their day to day roles than those that are often absent or whose health issues keep them from performing to the best of their ability. It’s in your interest just as much as theirs to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and attitude.

Become a More Attractive Employer

Another incredibly valuable asset for any business is its reputation. If your business has a reputation for not taking its employee's wellbeing seriously, or just not being a particularly pleasant place to work, you will struggle to attract top-shelf talent. Conversely, if your business is known for being generous to its workers and for taking an active role in promoting their health and wellbeing, the really talented people, the ones who can more or less choose where they want to work and for whom, will be falling over themselves to apply to your business.

In terms of maintaining long-term productivity gains, as well as growing the business as a whole, attracting the very best talent that you can will be invaluable to you. 

The benefits of investing in employee health are clear, and this is something that every business should be striving to do for their workers. But of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If you only make a half-hearted effort towards improving employee wellbeing, you aren’t going to get very far. On the other hand, if you are prepared to really commit to it, you can make a significant and positive impact on their lives.

Education, Education, Education

In the spirit of helping your employees to help themselves, providing them with some education and direction on how they can improve their own health will make all of your other efforts much more effective. The best way of going about this will depend on the nature of your business. If your business consists of just a handful of workers, it’s not much of a logistical challenge to sit those workers down and host regular meetings where you can exchange ideas and suggestions. It’s important that you listen to your workers, rather than just telling them what to do.

For larger businesses, this approach might not be practical. Managers in some smaller businesses might not feel qualified to talk authoritatively about issues of health and wellbeing. In either case, businesses like amos beech can help you with your workplace wellbeing. Amos beech can help you to design your entire office space so that it is built from the ground up with your employees and their wellbeing in mind.

Promote Healthy Activities

Setting up a corporate sports team is a very American idea, but it is one that is gaining traction in the UK because it has proven to be very effective at helping employees to improve their health and wellbeing. Japanese businesses encourage their employees to exercise together at the start of the day, and this is seen as normal across virtually all industries.

You don’t have to enter into a league or tournament or anything like that; just giving your employees access to the space, time, and equipment that they need to exercise during the work day can make a real difference. You might be surprised how many of your workers would actually love to be more active but feel like they don’t have enough time or access to the right equipment.

Encourage Preventative Care

Every year, millions of workers in the UK will take time off for illness or injury. Some of these are unavoidable and there’s no way that we can stop people from ever becoming sick or injured. However, many of these cases are entirely preventable. A great example of this is vaccines. Some people, incorrectly, think that vaccines are harmful, even though they aren’t. Not only is this having an alarming impact on the health of our children (cases of measles are on the increase in the UK), but it is leading some adults to, incorrectly, think that they are taking a risk by having a flu shot.

As part of your efforts to improve your employee's health, you should make things like flu shots available to them during the workday at the right time of year. As part of your education efforts, you should also make literature available to them that reaffirms how safe and effective vaccines actually are.

Offer Healthy Eating Options

This is one of the simplest steps that you can take to encourage your workers to live more healthy lifestyles, but it is also one of the most effective. A healthy diet is at the heart of a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what else you do, if your diet isn’t balanced and well-rounded, then all your other efforts towards a healthy lifestyle will be for nothing. There is a reason that doctors and parents are so eager to drill the importance of diet and exercise into the minds of patients and children - because they are incredibly important.

Encourage Good Emotional Health

There are innumerable things that you can do to improve your employees’ outlook on their life and work. Most of us spend most of our waking hours working, travelling to work, or doing other work-related activities. Given how central our work lives are to our existence, and how intertwined our professional and personal identities are, it is obvious just how much of an impact our work lives can have on our emotional health. Give your workers access to counsellors who can offer them both career advice and help with their general wellbeing.

If you invest in your employee's wellbeing, you will encourage them to give you their absolute best all of the time. Unhealthy and unhappy workers will never be as productive and are more likely to quit your business. Think of your employees’ health as a component of the health of your business as a whole.