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I’ve faced my fair share of challenges in the workplace, so employee well-being is something I personally care about very much. While I’m encouraged about the progress we’ve made as a society, we can do more.

On the surface, workplace culture appears to have become more staff-orientated. Tech companies, in particular, are famous for thinking creatively about the perks they use to attract the best and brightest, from gourmet cafeterias and massage rooms to on-site gyms and nap pods.*

But, look deeper, and the reality is less cuddly. Modern work is faster-paced than ever before. Technology means people can struggle to escape from the burden of work, even after they have left the office. I know I’m guilty of checking my emails on holiday. All of this can add up to employee wellness being compromised.

Is the work itself leading to employee stress?

Employee well-being initiatives can often be Band-Aid solutions that address the symptoms, but ignore the underlying causes.

Long working hours, days spent agonising over emails and meeting notes, frustrating processes, lack of clarity around career goals, employee stress comes from many sources.

Often the problem is cultural, especially in competitive industries. Employees may feel they will be seen as failing if they take a sick day, let alone go on paternity leave.

Businesses who fail to see where they’re coming up short might end up going down the wrong path. So, before you consider mindfulness workshops or sports packages, a first step is to improve your work culture in order to improve your employees’ well-being at work.

This can be as simple as giving your employees a little more autonomy, or letting them know that their work is making an impact.

Rethinking the work-life balance

The phrase “work-life balance” is an interesting one too. It implies that work and life are of equal importance. But that could lead to a warped perspective – work, after all, is only one aspect of your employees’ life, and arguably one of the least important to their well-being.

Once they’ve left the building, they have families to take care of, friends to meet, passions to pursue and their other responsibilities.

Unfortunately, many businesses fail to respect their employees’ need to have a life outside of work. Incentives which promote a healthier lifestyle are great, but they should not be a temporary patch. Instead, they should be part of a wider solution based on respect for the individual – one which is implemented from management to factory floor.

Leading with empathy

Employee well-being is something to consider across every level and role. A warehouse worker working to tight delivery schedules has different pressures than a sales executive who has to deal with the emotional strain of client work. That’s why we need to cater to individual needs – and put ourselves in their position – when thinking about our people and their well-being.

Allow respect and empathy to guide your business policy-making and you’ll end up with a happier, more well-adjusted and more productive workforce.

*Source: This Is Insider

Read on

Tax free health benefits

There is no requirement for employers to pay tax and National Insurance on certain health benefits covered by tax concessions or exemptions.

Strategies for mental health awareness in the workplace 

There is now a huge amount of information in the media about mental health in the workplace. But what about if you’re a business leader? Who do you get support from when the pressure starts to build?

Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Donna Bulmer

With over 20 years’ experience, Donna is Managing Partner in the North East. Having facilitated the growth of the region’s two offices and almost doubled turnover over a four year period, she is now helping to drive national strategy through her position on the Haines Watts board. As well as advising growing owner-managed businesses, Donna spends a great deal of her time working with voluntary sector organisations and, as such, is one of the leading voices for the not-for-profit sector in the Haines Watts group. She is a strong advocate of social issues and diversity in the workplace, and is using her board position to help businesses understand the importance of corporate social responsibility. On top of this, she is a Trustee and Treasurer for local charity Streetwise Young Peoples Project and sits on the Finance Sub-committee of national charity Changing Lives.

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