Wellbeing at Work: How to Improve Team Morale
With most of us spending a third of our lives at work, the topic of workplace wellbeing has never been more relevant - particularly as we navigate life in a post-pandemic world. The 19th September 2022 marks the first day of the International Week of Happiness at Work, which is the perfect time to explore the subject of wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. But why is wellbeing at work so important and what can be done to improve team morale? We’ve got all the information you need.
What is the International Week of Happiness at Work?
The International Week of Happiness at Work is actually a fairly new initiative, which was launched in 2018 by Dutch founders Fennande van der Meulen and Maartje Wolff. It was based around the idea that boosting workplace happiness should be at the top of the agenda for organisations globally.
A big part of the initiative is to encourage colleagues to share their thoughts and feedback, offer fresh insight for employers who want to improve workplace wellbeing but don’t quite know how, and - above all - inspire open discussion between employers and employees alike.
As Wolff and van der Meulen say, ‘It’s a do-it-yourself movement’ and, since ‘wellbeing’ can mean different things to different people (and at different times), it’s important that everyone’s voice is heard. Not least because when we’re happier at work, we’re likely to be more content in other areas of our lives, too.
What is Wellbeing at Work?
Wellbeing at work can be understood as the overall mental, physical, emotional and economic health of employees. Each of these factors can be influenced in countless ways, like positive relationships with co-workers and managers, or the tools and resources available to employees.
Here at Bruntwood, the wellbeing of our colleagues and customers is always high on our list of priorities, aligning closely with our business values and our aim to be brilliant to work with.
Our partners, We Are Wellbeing, describe wellbeing as ‘a holistic term which defines the experience of feeling well in mind, body and spirit’. They broadly divide the concept into 4 key pillars:
Physical - regarding our general fitness and activity levels, as well as subjects like nutrition and hygiene.
Mental - concerning our sense of self and mental health, with activities like meditation, mindfulness and controlled breathing, introduced to manage stress and anxiety
Social - referring to our relationships with others (in and out of the workplace), our sense of fulfilment and belonging, and the way we connect to the world around us
Financial - involving our relationships with and attitudes to money, especially as it pertains to our working lives. (For instance - managing the cost of commuting and mastering money-saving at the office become particularly important during the cost of living crisis.)
It’s useful to note that these categories are intertwined. For example, many people find that physical exercise can improve their mental wellbeing or, inversely, that too much socialising can have a negative effect on their relationships with money.
Recognising these links allows for a more balanced approach to wellbeing within the workplace; one that avoids making assumptions about colleagues’ lived experiences and acknowledges that everyone’s circumstances are unique and always in flux.
The Importance of Wellbeing at Work
Wellbeing at work is incredibly important. One of the main reasons is because colleagues are more likely to be happy in other aspects of their lives if they feel content in the workplace.
In fact, Indeed’s Work Happiness Score, which collates data for over 1,800 organisations in the UK, across 25 different sectors, found that only 27 percent of UK workers say they are happy at work most of the time.
However, the benefits of positive worker wellbeing actually extend to their employers - so making an effort to boost this percentage will be mutually beneficial to both employer and employee.
Not only does looking after your employees’ health and happiness lead to improved productivity, performance and greater harmony between teams - it also promotes higher levels of discretionary effort.
In real terms, Deloitte found that poor mental health costs employers up to £45 billion a year. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review found that presenteeism (when workers show up but are unengaged), equates to such low productivity that it’s more costly for businesses than if employees don’t show up at all.
The mental health charity, Mind, ran a survey which found that over 35% of employees had taken time off work due to poor mental health, and 27% of these told their employer it was for another reason.
So, improved wellbeing in the workplace can significantly reduce both presenteeism and absenteeism - two phenomena costing the UK economy £73 billion every year. This is a staggering figure, only exacerbated by the far-reaching economic impact we’re still experiencing from the pandemic.
Therefore, it’s vital that every effort is made by businesses to address potential losses at their root cause, which clearly puts wellbeing at the top of the financial agenda.
How to Boost Morale at Work
First and foremost, employers have a duty of care to their staff, and wellbeing falls into this category. Striving to improve team morale - whether that’s through team nights out, incentives, or workload management - is the mark of an employer who recognises the true value of their staff’s wellbeing.
But that’s not to say individual employees can’t improve their own happiness at work. Setting boundaries, not working excessive hours and adopting a hybrid working approach to allow for some social interaction, are all fail-safe ideas for improving your wellbeing at work.
How to Keep Employees Happy While Working From Home
Now that so many people work from home, employers need to adapt to supporting their employees from afar - helping them to establish a healthy work/life balance.
Providing the tools they need to create an ideal remote working environment - be that extra technology for the home office, flexible working or arranging daily catch-ups to make sure you’re on the same page.
According to a 2020 FlexJobs survey, 51% of respondents said they were more productive working from home - a number supported by the rise in both hybrid and remote working.
Choosing to split the week up between the office and home allows employees a change of scenery, but also the opportunity to capitalise on the hours usually spent commuting. Whether working from home allows you to fit your run into daylight hours, pick your kids up or simply catch up on much-needed sleep - it’s clearly beneficial to employee wellbeing when remote or hybrid work is facilitated.
Managers might need to get a little creative in the ways they seek to include employees who don’t often come to the office. Beers on a Friday afternoon are a great morale boost for those able to attend in person, but scheduling other wellbeing events (and giving people the chance to make arrangements to attend), is a more inclusive approach to maintaining employee happiness.
We know that if employee wellbeing is a priority, productivity thrives, so encouraging people to work when and where they feel they work best will benefit them personally, but the business as well.
Prioritising wellbeing is the mark of a forward-thinking workplace. From improving productivity, to helping to boost overall life satisfaction, promoting wellbeing in the workplace is an essential part of keeping both employers and employees content and motivated. Discover how Bruntwood could help to improve the happiness of your workplace today.