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Employee Wellbeing Initiatives: More Than a Tick-Box Exercise

MyAnova

17 May 2024

Employees, now more than ever, have a great awareness and can distinguish between the generic tick-box exercises, and initiatives that are genuinely implemented to prioritise their wellbeing.



What does the research say?


Are employees struggling with stress-related issues? If so, why aren’t current employee wellbeing initiatives working?


We wanted to explore employee perceptions of efforts to promote and sustain wellbeing in their workplace to see if we can understand it better, in our report with Alexforbes, ‘Beyond the Paycheck’.

 

Some of the key takeaways from our findings include:

  • Only 48% of respondents from the research agreed with the idea that wellbeing initiatives are more than a ‘tick-box’ exercise at their work

  • 41-50 year olds agreed with this statement more than the 21-30 year old age group (11% difference)

  • Less than a third (31%) believed their workplace is proactive with wellbeing support

  • 64% of respondents believed that if they knew it was going to make a difference, they would like the opportunity to give anonymous feedback to their employer.



Workplace wellbeing initiatives that might be seen as a ‘tick-box’ exercise…


The Fruit Basket Initiative: We all know that providing a fruit basket may seem like a health-conscious move. However, if it's done without addressing actual health and wellness concerns, it can be perceived as a shallow attempt to check a box rather than a comprehensive approach to employee wellbeing.


Unused Gym Memberships: Offering gym memberships as part of employee benefits is great, but what if employees find it difficult to take advantage of this benefit due to heavy workloads or a lack of time?


Unengaged Employee Surveys: Conducting employee surveys without meaningful follow-up or action based on the feedback collected can create scepticism among employees. If surveys are seen as a checkbox to demonstrate concern rather than a tool for improvement, they lose their effectiveness.


Generic "Wellness Days" Without Support: Designating specific days as "wellness days" without providing additional support or resources, and are employees expected to use their regular leave for these days? What’s the goal for these wellness days, what impact do you want to have?


Superficial Flexibility: Proudly advertising a flexible working policy, but the practical implementation falls short. Employees who attempt to explore flexible options encounter resistance or face subtle pressures to conform to traditional working hours.


Regular Social Events Without Meaning: Organising regular Friday happy hours without a clear purpose or structure. If these events become routine without providing opportunities for meaningful connections or team-building, they may be seen as a checkbox exercise rather than a genuine effort to enhance workplace camaraderie.



Initiatives that aren’t just a ‘tick-box’ exercise


Genuine Wellbeing Support: Instead of a generic fruit basket, establish a comprehensive wellness program. Offer nutritional workshops, and engage with employees to understand their wellness needs. Consider partnering with nutritionists for personalised advice to support overall health. Consider flexible scheduling to allow time for physical activity without clashing with work commitments. Work with employees to understand their workload and how it can be managed easier.


Holistic Wellness Support: Redefine wellness days by offering a range of activities and resources. Provide access to mental health workshops or counselling services. Encourage employees to use these days for personal rejuvenation and self-care, actively promoting mental and emotional wellbeing.


Feedback-Driven Improvement: Turn surveys into a powerful tool for improvement. Implement a feedback loop where survey results lead to tangible changes. Communicate the actions taken based on employee feedback, demonstrating that their input directly influences positive changes within the organisation.


Authentic Flexibility Culture: Create a culture where flexibility is not just a policy but a lived reality. Train managers to support and encourage flexible work arrangements. Establish clear guidelines for flexible schedules and communicating, emphasising trust and outcomes over hours worked.


Purposeful Connection Initiatives: Transform routine happy hours into purposeful events. Incorporate team-building activities, theme nights, or volunteer opportunities during these gatherings. Create an environment where social events contribute to team cohesion and genuine connections, promoting a positive workplace culture.



Determining Authenticity: How to Know if Employees Find Initiatives Genuine

 

Employee Feedback and Involvement: Actively seek input from employees through surveys or focus groups. If employees feel involved in the decision-making process, it indicates a commitment to their wellbeing rather than a top-down approach.

 

Measurable Impact: Genuine initiatives show measurable results. Track key metrics like employee engagement, retention rates, and absenteeism to gauge the impact of wellbeing initiatives over time.

 

Consistency in Communication: Ensure that employees are well-informed about the available resources and support. Regular updates and open dialogue create a sense of trust and transparency.

 

Leadership Involvement: The commitment of leadership to wellbeing initiatives is a powerful indicator of authenticity. When leaders actively participate in and promote these programs, it sends a clear message that employee wellbeing is a core value of the organisation.

 

Adaptability and Evolution: Genuine initiatives are not fixed; they evolve based on feedback and changing needs. A willingness to adapt programs in response to employee feedback demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and genuine concern for the workforce.

 


Conclusion


In conclusion, employee wellbeing initiatives are not tick-boxes to be marked off but rather an important and ongoing commitment to creating a workplace where employees thrive. A superficial initiative may momentarily appease surface-level concerns but won't address the underlying issues that contribute to unhappiness in the workplace. Genuine initiatives are rooted in empathy, responsiveness, and a deep understanding of the unique needs of the workforce, ultimately leading to a happier, healthier, and more engaged team.

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