“Take care”
“Look after yourself”

We’ve all heard and said these phrases to each other and our colleagues, repeatedly, over the last months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they are kind and well-intended statements, organisations need to go beyond rhetoric to truly embed wellbeing and improve employee engagement.

The evidence is clear – when our people feel good and function effectively (our preferred definition of wellbeing, informed by the World Health Organisation), they are more productive, engaged and satisfied at work. This mentally-healthy state clearly provides better business outcomes. There’s also no denying the return on the investment, but many organisations still do not implement effective workplace wellbeing programs.

5 questions to ask yourself

Employers need to take a strategic approach and embed the practices and systems that enhance employee wellbeing and engagement beyond the ‘3F’s; Flu shots, Fruit and Fitness subscriptions, as outlined in The Wellbeing Lab 2018 Worplace Survey. So, where do you start? Here are 5 simple questions to ask yourself as a leader or HR practitioner:

1. is employee wellbeing and engagement written in our business strategy and in every manager’s key performance indicators (KPIs)?

There are many ways to measure employee wellbeing and engagement, which range from simple to sophisticated. We suggest most organisations start with the basics; employee turnover, sick leave, referral rates to your Employee Assistance Program, as well as participation rates associated with your wellbeing initiatives like gym memberships.

It’s also important to seek and measure employee feedback – starting with the Net Promoter Score. As well as asking quantitative questions like ‘on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your overall wellbeing levels at work’, accompanied with qualitive questions like ‘how could (company name) improve your overall wellbeing levels?’

2. Do our people have the knowledge to build their own wellbeing? Have you built their ‘wellbeing literacy’?

Got a team member who needs help managing their time? You probably wouldn’t think twice about them attending a time management course. Inherently, you know, there are practical skills a staff member can learn from the experts in this space. This is no different from the skills of wellbeing. Especially given that very few of us were taught wellbeing management skills at school. Wellbeing literacy starts with defining what wellbeing actually is, the factors that impact it, and the practical tools to build this skill, including our emotional intelligence.

3. Have we audited our policies to ensure they build wellbeing, rather than impede it?

A great place to start is to look at your HR policies. Ensure you have policies covering key areas that affect wellbeing, like flexible work, diversity and inclusion, bullying and access to learning and development. The written policy is just the beginning though, the way the policy is ‘brought to life’ or implemented is also critical to wellbeing.

A tip when writing policies is to outline the behaviour that is acceptable, rather than focusing on unacceptable behaviour. For instance, instead of saying ‘don’t smoke near the reception’, you could state ‘for the safety of all, please smoke only in the designated areas.’

4. What are the take-up rates of our employee recognition program? when was the last time i used it?

We see this one a lot at The Oranges Toolkit; organisations have great, well-designed employee recognition programs but very few people use it, including leaders. Recognising your team for great work creates positive emotions. Positive emotions can have a powerful amplification effect on our performance and health – this effect is known as the broaden and build theory. In fact, research suggests that high-performing teams have at least 3 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. So, the act of recognising your team can help build a strong positivity-negativity ratio.

5. Do we have a wellbeing steering committee that is representative of our organisation? and do they actively contribute to the wellbeing and engagement strategy?

The development of a steering committee has many benefits. Firstly, it enables you to design a wellbeing and engagement program that is meaningful and practical to your whole organisation, because you have listened to the representative voices from all levels and business units. You’ve gained buy-in from key stakeholders. These stakeholders will end up being your greatest champions on the ground. Lastly, the champions are also likely to be positive energisers. Interestingly, energisers have been shown to be a powerful influence within a business context.

Continue to be kind and take the next step

Of course, saying ‘Take care’ and ‘Look after yourself’ is still important. But, when you build on these statements through best-practice, supportive systems, that’s where you make the greatest impact in people’s lives and therefore your organisation’s performance. There are many examples of organisations leading the way. These organisations are often recognised in awards like Australian HR Awards, AHRI Awards and Great Places to Work.

The Oranges Toolkit has wide-ranging industry experience in organisational change management, primarily with large corporations and government organisations. It’s more important than ever to support your employees to face adverse situations with the skills of resilience and wellbeing. We have a range of programs and resources to support leaders in this change management process, informed by the latest research in neuroscience, positive psychology and emotional intelligence.

If you would like further support in developing your systems and elevating the resilience, wellbeing and mental health of your people, get in touch with us