The Importance of Wellbeing in the Workplace

Employee wellbeing is still often thought of as a nice to have or something you spend time on further down the line. This is especially true for start-ups and scale-ups. However, if you only shift your focus to it at a later stage then chances are it’s already too late - as employee wellbeing and employee performance are intrinsically linked

Tom Dally, January 15, 2019

Studies have shown that investing in the wellbeing of your employees has major benefits for both parties, perhaps the most established of which is engagement. Employees that are more motivated will be more engaged which in turn drives greater performance. This can be across productivity, increased sales numbers and also employee retention. It also contributes to an organic, harmonious company culture and loyalty to the brand and its people.  

Here are some workplace wellness stats that back this up:

  • 78% of businesses surveyed say employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans.
  • 91% of workers at companies that support well-being efforts say they feel motivated to do their best.
  • 89% of workers at companies that support well-being efforts are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.
  • Of employers offering wellness programs, 67% reported increased employee satisfaction, 66% reported increased productivity and 50% reported decreased absenteeism.

There has also been a shift over the past decade around what employee wellness means. Traditionally many programs have focused only on the physical component of wellbeing but it’s far more encompassing; it also accounts for the emotional, mental, social, and financial aspects of our lives.
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With this in mind, we recently embarked on an all-team wellbeing workshop run by Agile Human. Agile Human was founded by Ian Hitt and Kate Field Nicholls and our session focused on five key points;

  1. Pause, reflect and explore
  2. Developing self-awareness and encouraging self-discovery
  3. Challenge your thinking and habits
  4. Talking, sharing ideas and experiences
  5. And importantly signing up for incremental change.

Before we were introduced to each of the key points, we had a discussion about the focus of the session and the importance of being a valued employee with a purpose. This was a fantastic starting point as it got us thinking about the subsequent tasks around the key points above.

The first task was to discuss what wellbeing meant to us, a topic we explored with a buddy in the group. This gave us the opportunity to develop our self-awareness through our personal definitions of wellbeing. By producing a list as a group one thing became abundantly clear and that was wellbeing is unique to all of us.

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We then watched a short clip on Sir David Brailsford, the former British cycling coach and current general manager of Team Sky. Based on the philosophy of marginal gains, Brailsford discussed how if you broke everything down that goes into an end product, and then improved it by 1%, you’ll find a significant increase when you add them all together. This got us thinking about how we could apply this to our everyday tasks. If we worried about the end result, our overall performance will be affected. By breaking it down into individual tasks, setting goals for each task that are achievable, we can create a culture of continuous learning and achieve far more collectively as a result. We found this really impactful and an approach that is realistically achievable.

Working at a fast-paced scale up comes with its own challenges. You often wear multiple hats and gain brilliant exposure to areas of the business that you wouldn't get at corporate. You learn so much and develop extremely transferable skills. Though at times you might just need a moment to pause, reflect and explore how to best tackle a problem. To assist in these situations, we learnt two techniques. The first was a Mindful Minute, a simple approach that helps you concentrate on deep breaths in, holding and exhaling for 6 seconds. Often the best time to do this is when you feel like you can't do it!

The second was a visualisation and guided imagery exercise, where you block out all the distractions around you. By focusing inward, you’re able to ‘escape’ any stressful feelings to a peaceful, relaxing and detached environment for a moment. Glisser 11

Part of wellbeing is being able to identify and then step into change. The next exercise helped us do this with was a self-assessment tool called The 21 Elements, a tool developed by Ian and Kate. The diagram had three dimensions of life; wellbeing, work and life. We then had to identify where we stood for seven elements within the three dimensions. The further away from the centre of the diagram we selected indicated it was something we had to work out. We then had to set goals for each of the three dimensions identifying what incremental change we could make in order to improve our rating on the 21 Elements.

We finished off with the opportunity to reflect on the session, what we learnt, what we found useful and how we could put it into practice.

By holding the all-team wellbeing session, it has enabled our office to gain more of an understanding of each other both as colleagues and friends. This will no doubt help us as a company continue to exceed our clients' expectations and achieve our goals for 2019 whilst achieving a life/work balance that keeps us motivated, energised and content!

Glisser Team, Kate & Ian - Dec 2018

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