Traditionally, businesses have based their corporate decision-making on profits or investor benefits. In the past year, however, trends have shifted and focus on the wellbeing of employees has intensified. Now, it’s largely accepted as a business cornerstone.
Where managers used to advertise the happiness and wellbeing of their employees as an advantage, it has now become a necessity. Businesses that are forward-looking and have adapted quickly to this development have reported improvements with their profit margins too. According to a survey conducted by Warwick University, companies gained a competitive edge and productivity increased by 12% when the business focus included wellbeing. In other words, happier employees have been proven to be more productive.
Internal comms can play a huge part in making this happen. This is how:
Collaborate with HR In order to create an effective wellbeing strategy, internal comms execs will need to work closely with Human Resources to get a better picture of the workforce demographic and areas that could profit from enhanced wellbeing communication.
Is there a way to help staff organise their workdays better? Feedback from managers is invaluable at this point. Setting up a communications calendar to time comms and other wellbeing offers so they fit work schedules would be a good start.
The goal is to create regular, engaging and informative campaigns about wellbeing that enable workers to deal with their individual situations or raise understanding of the topic more broadly. Employees’ feedback will then be given more freely and further comms can be adapted accordingly.
Lose the stigma According to the Mental health at Work Report, 49% of male and 53% of female workers don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Any lingering stigma around mental health can result in your people feeling unable to express their feelings. Plus, the effects of overworked, anxious and stressed employees are severe and can lead to low productivity and high absence rates.
Internal comms can be part of a concerted effort to tackle these topics. It's about creating a culture where people feel they can talk about their problems and are in a safe space to do so. Branding that gives the issue a fun feel and dismantles certain preconceptions, encouraging conversations about health issues as being part of life rather than a sign of individual failure, will have an incredible impact.
Confidentiality and trust Employers and senior leaders within your workforce should take centre stage in the implementation of wellbeing policies. As such, line managers that frequently interact with their teams will be more effective if they have been schooled on mental health issues and can provide a degree of support to individual employees. An open-door policy for all staff to address their problems confidentially and request support, will go a long way towards increased employee satisfaction.
Senior leaders will be able to assess work conditions and offer tailor-made solutions to enhance these with, for example, organised breaks, flexible working schedules, etc. Such proposals can in turn be shared via individual inboxes and company-wide communications.
The human aspect is important here, since forging a relationship based on trust between workers and managers is key to employees’ sense of safety and wellbeing. Researchers of the Mental Health at Work Report found that 84% of managers believe their actions have an impact on the wellbeing of their team.
Safe spaces Creating a psychologically safe space in the workplace will empower employees, so consider creating communal spaces that suit more than one purpose. Providing ad hoc meeting rooms, seating arrangements and space to eat together in the cafeteria allows employees to communicate in myriad ways.
Training mental health aides among the workforce and regularly publishing who they are and how to contact them will also encourage staff that may be hesitant to speak to their senior colleagues and ask for support.
Health promotions Internal comms can be used to promote healthy behaviours among workers, both work and lifestyle related. This could include offering tutorials, private healthcare perks, free gym memberships and many more incentives.
It is important that workers realise wellbeing can be achieved on a physical, mental and social level. To encourage physical wellbeing, you might host a yoga class on site. For mental wellbeing, you could introduce mental health first aiders, and improve social connections by hosting after work events.
Back to the office Many businesses are now opening office doors for returning workers. Productivity will not be impaired when staff know their work will be facilitated seamlessly: the implementation of security measures in office spaces, and technology to allow for collaboration within a diverse workforce that is based both at home and in the office will certainly help.
A ‘back to office’ plan and internal comms strategy is required here to help guide individuals and explain new processes that give them room to work and not worry about Covid-19 in the workplace.
Technology Once seen as the great facilitator of work processes, technology has now shown its darker side with employees suffering from a so-called digital overload. This has resulted in workers, especially remote workers, not being able to draw a clear line between work and their private lives. They are ‘always on’ and faced with more stress and reduced productivity.
In a study by Henley Business School, 61% of managers stated that technology makes it difficult to switch off from work. More than half said they frequently check email outside of work hours, with mid-level managers finding this particularly disruptive. Internal comms can function as a welcome source of information regarding technology and stress, informing the workforce that these issues are not individual but felt across the company, in fact, the world. Guidelines, processes and features will regularly be introduced so that they can assist employees in a healthier use of technology at work and at home.
A decent work-life balance goes a long way towards increased employee satisfaction.
Positive feedback Unlike traditional methods of encouraging employees to work harder, positive feedback has actually been shown to be more effective in creating a more productive workforce. A ‘can do’ attitude from senior managers will encourage colleagues to give positive feedback where possible, which then creates a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone will feel appreciated.
It is clear that dealing with a problem works best when you talk about it. Internal comms functions as a bridge between communications led by HR and the board, and communications by employees giving voice to their work issues and thoughts surrounding individual wellbeing. A communication strategy that infuses this exchange with a sense of safety, positivity and practicality will add value to employee satisfaction offers and ultimately to business objectives.
Are you looking for a strategy to improve your employees’ wellbeing? Our internal comms professionals will show you how to do this responsibly. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.