A Beginner’s Guide to Employee Wellbeing

What is Employee Wellbeing?

You can make employee wellbeing about almost anything, if you want to. However, to keep it simple (which is a mantra here at EBC-LLP), you should start with just two areas of Employee Wellbeing: Physical and Mental. These are the two cornerstones of Employee Wellbeing and are the best place to start.

If you feel you have a bit more bandwidth, then the next area you should add to your ‘to do’ list is Financial Wellbeing. These three topics should leave you with plenty to think about and accomplish, alongside greatly improving the situation for your employees.

If you want to try and deal with the full range of Employee Wellbeing issues, then the remaining two are: Social and Environmental Wellbeing. These two areas are much more complicated than the first three to both understand and to try and intervene in, so I’d leave them until you have a bit more experience in the first three areas.

How should I approach Employee Wellbeing?

I like to think that Employee Wellbeing has three tiers:

1. Treatment;
2. Education / Support; and
3. Prevention.

Prevention is the highest / most complex tier and few UK employers ever try to tackle it or try to, but with little success. Again, this is something to focus on once you have your sea legs.

As an employer new to wellbeing, just try to build a strong Treatment tier for your employees to use. This is the, ‘help them when they falter’ tier and is a great first step.

Typical Treatment products are typical company employee benefits. These include group life assurance, group income protection insurance, private medical insurance, occupational health, employee assistance programme and pay advances or company / third party hardship loans. They can all be used to create a safety net for employees within your budget. Hopefully, some will already be in place at your business, so it is just a case of building this out in line with your budget.

Once you have a strong Treatment tier in place, then you may want to try out a few Education / Support options. Education / Support is designed to help people understand where they are with their wellbeing and offer them options to improve their position. Many Education / Support tools come free with products like group income protection, group private medical insurance or are just a common part of employee assistance programmes. Other options might include health assessments that have a coaching / behaviour change element to them, mental resilience training and financial education.

It is important with any training product that there is some level of follow up and coaching for it to be truly effective. Many employees will forget a lot of what they have learned even if it is only a few weeks after a training session. Wellbeing is rarely a ‘once and done’ issue, it is more like ‘Whack-a-Mole’ where you tackle one issue only for another to come to the surface. That is okay, because we are not trying to make things perfect, we are just trying to support employees as best as we can to make things better for themselves.

How do I know what to do / what to tackle?

The Golden Rule is: Ask your employees.

Wellbeing is very personal, and each person will have different wellbeing issues that they could use support with. Often, the people most attracted to wellbeing are either ‘well’ or have a specific wellbeing agenda. You don’t want these people capturing the process to support just their needs or implementing approaches that support their interests. You need anyone involved in the process to represent all of their colleagues.

I’ve lost track of the number of businesses that get captured by someone obsessed with yoga as the solution to all problems or that resilience training is the cure for all ills. It is important that everyone involved understands that what works for them, may not work for the person on the desk opposite them. The best example I have of this is that at two separate firms, the biggest problem for employees (in their view) was car parking according to their employee wellbeing surveys.

Do I need ROI, Data and / or a Business Case?

No.

These are nice to have’s for consultants like me, but they aren’t a requirement and most businesses don’t spend a lot of time on these issues.

ROI is highly misleading and difficult to prove. Certain data sets are extremely useful, but complicated and potentially expensive to put in place and analyse. Data is primarily used to help judge success, but you can do this anecdotally when you start out. A Business Case is a nice to have, but really it is as simple as asking yourself what it is you are trying to achieve in this space, over what period of time?

Don’t let these formalities put you off trying to implement an Employee Wellbeing package.

Any final tips?

The UK provider community is great in this space. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help and guidance on your journey as they will be happy to offer assistance.

Don’t be afraid to try low-level, low-cost and low-risk interventions only to see them fail. It might take several attempts before you find something that resonates with your employees.

About EBC-LLP

We believe that investing in the wellbeing of your employees is simply the right thing to do. Not just ethically, but financially – you will simply benefit from looking after your employees. That is why wellbeing is at the heart of both our Consultancy and Platform Solutions.

Our Platform has a number of unique Employee Wellbeing propositions – from behavioural coaching through to financial education.

Our Consultancy supports engagement in Employee Wellbeing at the level right for you.

Contact us to have a free one-hour introductory session on Employee Wellbeing for your business.

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