A workplace wellbeing strategy is a must for organisations that want to improve their employees’ mental and physical health. With an estimated 21.6 sick days taken per person for work-related stress, depression and anxiety, it’s more vital than ever that employers look after their people – and the first step is an effective employee wellbeing strategy!
In this guide, we’ll look at the benefits of creating an employee health and wellbeing strategy and a step-by-step plan to create one that works for your team.We’ve also created a handy employee wellbeing strategy template that you can download and use to start putting yours together. Click here to download yours.
Why Have an Employee Wellbeing Strategy?
As already mentioned, an employee wellbeing strategy is vital for organisations that understand the value of their people. Having an effective strategy not only shows your team that you care about their wellbeing, but it can also:
- Improve engagement
- Improve morale
- Improve productivity
- Reduce the number of absences and sick days due to poor mental health
- Reduce staff turnover
- Create a healthier company culture
- Open up conversations around mental health at work
- Ensures a strategic approach that allows for the proper measuring and tracking of employee wellbeing
There are countless benefits to an employee health and wellbeing strategy that’s planned properly, measured, and implemented in the right way.
8 Steps to Creating Your Employee Wellbeing Strategy
- Decide who will be leading the wellbeing initiatives in the workplace
The first step is to consider who will be responsible for the workplace wellbeing strategy, measuring, and implementation. It may be that you need a whole team of people depending on the size of your organisation. Consider a workplace wellbeing lead and, if needed, several wellbeing champions who can help spread the word.
Make sure it’s clear in your strategy who is responsible for the different areas and how people can get in contact with them for questions and suggestions.
- Choose a way to measure health and wellbeing that can be used on an ongoing basis
An extremely important aspect of your employee wellbeing strategy is how you’re going to measure its effectiveness. Without this, it’s practically impossible to know if the changes you’re making are having an impact.
Our guide, How to Measure Employee Wellbeing and 5 Key Metrics to Track, will help you pick the right way for your organisation. Consider, also, who will be responsible for tracking those key metrics and include that in your plan.
You may also want to use our guide to employee wellbeing surveys along with our free template to start gathering data too.
- Get in your benchmark data and set goals to improve
Before bringing in any new workplace wellbeing changes, make sure you understand what your starting point is. Once you’ve chosen how you want to measure and track employee wellbeing, use this to get in your initial score as a benchmark.
Once you have that benchmark data, consider what short-term and long-term goals you’d like to set for employee wellbeing. How would you like these scores to improve in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years? Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based (SMART) and share these with the relevant people.
- Ask employees for their ideas and start encouraging engagement
If you haven’t had a clear focus on employee wellbeing before, then you may find that engagement is initially quite low. This can be difficult when it comes to collecting data and getting in survey responses. So, your next step needs to be involving the whole team in your plans.
Start communicating that the organisation is working on a new workplace wellbeing strategy as soon as possible, and ask employees for their ideas. Making this a collaborative process will help employees feel more involved and engaged, which will then make it much easier for you to build an effective strategy.
- Gradually add in new wellbeing initiatives based on data and feedback
So, you’ve collected all the data, employees have started sending in their ideas, and now it’s time to start implementing. At this stage, it’s really important to start gradually adding in new wellbeing initiatives and not overloading or overwhelming employees. This is particularly important if you haven’t really had any workplace wellbeing programmss in place before.
Consider what your employees have asked for and what kind of initiatives would best suit their needs. For example, if lots of employees have identified the same area of concern then a workshop focusing on this is an ideal starting point. It shows you’re listening and you’re keen to support them. Other ideas might include:
- More regular workshops on a variety of topics identified in your employee health and wellbeing survey
- Socials, Away Days or team-building activities that encourage mental wellbeing and connection
- Employee assistance programmes
- Mentoring programmes
- A platform or app that provides different classes/courses for wellbeing
- Tools for physical wellbeing (eg, fitness classes)
- Financial wellbeing programmes
- Wellbeing benefits and discounts
- Communicate effectively with employees
One of the biggest issues we see with a brand new employee wellbeing programme is that they just aren’t shouted about enough. Perhaps they’re hidden away in a newsletter or emailed about once, but then forgotten about. When these initiatives aren’t communicated effectively with employees, it can lead to a lack of engagement and make it seem as though the team just isn’t interested when really they just don’t know what’s out there
However, in our most recent workplace wellbeing survey, better communication was high up there on the list of wants from employers. Many respondents also said they didn’t know what their employers offered in terms of workplace health and wellbeing. Keep employees in the loop with regular newsletters dedicated to wellbeing, talking about the initiatives in meetings, a workplace wellbeing hub on your company intranet (that’s easy to find), or head here for more ideas.
- Evaluate how the initiatives are going
Once you’ve implemented a new wellbeing programme and ensured this is regularly communicated with employees, you can start to evaluate how these are going. We recommend that you evaluate at least once per quarter, but you can also have more regular check-ins with those involved such as your wellbeing champions.
Use the same key metrics that you used to collect benchmark data to measure progress and whether the initiatives are having a better or worse impact than expected. If the results are poor, then go back to step six and consider whether the initiatives are being clearly communicated first.
- Optimise your strategy going forward
Your final step is to use all of the data you’ve collected to optimise your strategy going forward. Perhaps the new initiatives you’ve bought in are having some impact but not enough. Is there something that could be causing it?
For example, you have employees working different shifts and your new initiative is to run health and wellbeing workshops at midday. Those working night shifts may not be able to attend and don’t feel as though the strategy takes their needs into account. Can you run the same workshop at two different times of the day to make it more accessible?
Your employee wellbeing strategy should be an ongoing process of measuring, optimising, and, most importantly, having conversations with your team to find out how you can do things better.
Optional Step: Securing Buy-in from Management
Some of you reading this may be keen to start your new employee wellbeing strategy and implement initiatives but are worried about getting the buy-in and budget from those at the top. If this is the case, you’ll want to add this step in after you’ve collected tangible data that you’ll be able to present to management.
Use the key metrics we discuss here to start building up that important data (for example, sickness records or exit interviews) and add these to statistics taken from elsewhere. Generally, management wants to know that any workplace wellbeing initiatives will have a positive ROI. This study from Deloitte shows that on average employers obtain a return of £5 for every £1 spent on improving employee mental health. HSE also regularly share statistics on working days lost due to ill health and the cost of these to organisations and the country as a whole.
Employee Wellbeing Strategy Template
Ready to start your own workplace wellbeing strategy? We’ve put together a template that helps you map out each of these steps, including securing buy-in from management if needed.
You can download the employee wellbeing strategy template below.