If you’re anything like me, you don’t have to scroll far down your LinkedIn news feed to stumble across a blog, article or company talking about employee wellbeing. It’s become the buzzword ‘de jour’ and my usually cynical self can’t help but feel rather excited about this. Let me tell you why.
Wellbeing Benefits Us All
It isn’t a mysterious concept. Put into plain English, it means looking after your physical and mental health, or the health of those you employ if you’re coming at this from a business owners perspective. Quite frankly, this is something we should all be doing anyway, right?
So Are Employers Really Doing Their Bit?
Ask a room full of people if they think it’s important to be healthy and I’m sure the majority will say yes. Ask them if they want their employer to care if they are healthy, again, it’s probably a yes. Ask them if they feel their employer actually does care if they’re healthy…I suspect the answers will be less favourable.
Modern Life Can Dehumanise Us All With Wellbeing Taking A Back Seat
You see, somewhere in the midst of hyper growth tech unicorns, the burnout culture perpetuated by Silicon Valley and the constantly blurred lines between work and life; we forgot to acknowledge that people are not robots. You cannot ask for 200% effort from them every day and not expect someone to topple over at some point.
Burnout Is Particularly Prevalent In The Technology Sector
Work ethic is a perennial topic in the tech industry (where I’ve spent most of my working career), which has its own blinkered take on the American dream of bootstrapped socioeconomic mobility. Parables of extreme devotion — like the story of Elon Musk sleeping on a bean bag near Tesla’s production line — are recited faithfully by entrepreneur acolytes and established VCs alike. And this kind of thinking is bad news for the ‘average’ employee. Apparently, we are living in generation burnout, with the once desirable burnout ‘badge’ seen only in senior execs being achieved at a much younger age and with much more regular frequency. Our social media obsession comes with an abundance of pressure to ‘have it all’, ‘do it all’, ‘buy it all’ and for goodness sake, ‘don’t be AVERAGE’. Combine this with the expectation to work like Elon Musk and it doesn’t take a genius to work out this is only headed in one direction, and it ain’t a pretty ending.
But Reports Show Tech Firms Are Starting To Put Wellbeing Strategies In Place
Thankfully, some smart companies (around 69% according to a recent Towers Watson survey) are already clocking on to one simple fact; healthier employees = happier employees = productive employees and have decided to put employee wellbeing at the top of their agenda over the next 2 years.
Great for Apple, But What About Me?
So, you’re probably thinking, that’s all very well and good for the big corporates who have money to throw at these problems, but what about us, the SME with our modest budgets and countless ‘priorities’ to spend it on. And I get it, it’s far easier to justify spending money on things that are obvious and the benefits are clear to the business right now. New systems, IT equipment, marketing collateral, sales events – there are countless needs when growing a business and unless the ‘people’ are screaming and shouting at you everyday, they are not going to be the number 1 priority. But that is the problem with stress, wellbeing, health issues and the like; they can creep up on you or even come completely out of the blue. Before you know it your top sales guy is signed off work for a month and you’re facing a huge gap in your targets for that quarter.
Wellbeing Starts With Getting To Know Your Team
I’ll let you into a secret, wellbeing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You’re a human too (I expect!) so think for a second about a time when you felt happy, healthy and generally ‘well’. Was it because your company was spending a ton of money on gurus coming in to teach you how to meditate and expensive staff trips to Ibiza to practice Yoga? It’s possible that the answer is yes, of course, but it’s also possible that it was because you just felt like you had enough balance in your life. Time to spend with family and friends, a meaningful job where you got acknowledged for your contribution, the ability to manage your own time and work around your own life priorities, and the feeling that your employer cared about you as a person, not just a bum on a seat churning out work. That’s employee wellbeing at it’s finest. Putting it bluntly, it’s giving a sh*t about how your staff feel day to day, and supporting them when how they’re feeling is, actually, a little bit overwhelmed.
Practical Solutions Can Be Simple, Cheap & Easy To Implement
Perhaps Dave would love to leave early next week so he can pick up his kid from school. Sarah might really appreciate the opportunity to have some coaching around achieving some of her life goals. Aarthi might really value a team lunch or drinks after work. James would love to just be told he’s doing a great job and thanked for his contribution (and a cheeky Amazon voucher would go down well too).
Wellbeing is not a black art. It’s also not a one size fits all exercise (despite their being a ping pong table at the back of every single tech office I’ve ever worked in!). It’s taking the time to listen, get to know your team and spending whatever budget you have on something that matters, to them.
Here at the HR Hub, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the very ugly when it comes to wellbeing strategies and we’d love to have a pragmatic chat with you about what might actually work for your business. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 627 7048.