R+R Hub look at the rise of Employee Wellbeing

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The age of just gritting your teeth and getting on with it at work is now, if not over, very much coming to a close. There are three main driving forces behind this change.

Firstly, there is the law. Secondly, there is public opinion. Thirdly, there is employee demand. All of these factors are driving employer awareness and employer action. To explain further, Emma Preece, General Manager at R+R Hub looks into the rise of employee wellbeing.

Sustainability covers people too

Over recent years, commerce and sustainability have begun to transition from being opposites to being complementary forces. There are, of course, still companies that continue to act in an unsustainable manner. They are, however, coming under increasing scrutiny and pressure to change their behaviour. This pressure could be legal and/or commercial. It is often very effective.

Many companies are choosing to work on their sustainability. Understandably, these improvements tend to be incremental rather than dramatic. Also understandably, companies tend to focus on the areas which most benefit them commercially. Recruitment and retention tend to be huge issues for most companies. It, therefore, makes commercial sense to improve sustainability in these areas.

Sustainable working prioritizes the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. These are often closely interlinked. By doing so, employers increase their attractiveness to candidates. That helps them to recruit and retain people. It also helps to maximize their productivity. Happy employees act as brand ambassadors for their employer both to potential new employees and to customers.

Bringing employees (and customers) on board

In very simple terms, committing to employee wellbeing can make the difference between having employees who do their jobs and having employees who really engage with the business. This isn’t just about productivity. Many employees will put in as much effort as they can for their employer as long as they feel that they’re being treated fairly.

It’s about motivating employees to put that bit of extra sparkle into their work. This is what can push your customers’ experience of your offering from just good to really great. It’s also about encouraging your employees to support your brand outside of work. In fact, it can encourage them to support your brand even if they move on to another employer.

This last point is highly relevant and likely to become even more so. When you are employing someone, you can exercise a certain degree of control over their behaviour outside work. Even in an employment situation, however, this can be a very sensitive and tricky area. When you are no longer employing someone, it is almost impossible to control their behaviour, especially over the long term.

You may be able to put commercial safeguards in place, such as non-compete clauses. These are not unusual although they are subject to rigorous legal safeguards. You are highly unlikely to be able to exercise any control over a former employee’s public statements about you such as their social media feed. You will, however, very much have to deal with the consequences of these.

Adapting old traditions to new expectations

The good news for employers is that it often takes very little effort to implement an employee wellbeing programme. It very rarely necessitates major adaptations. It’s more a case of adapting established workplace traditions to new expectations.

For example, a few decades ago, vegetarian employees were generally overlooked at workplace events. Now most employers will offer a vegetarian option as standard. In fact, it’s increasingly common for employers to offer vegan options. They’ll also typically arrange catering for dietary and religious preferences, at least upon request.

On a more everyday level, employers are increasingly providing healthier alternatives to the “treat” foods that used to be standard in workplaces. For example, they’ll offer fresh fruit instead of cakes and biscuits. They’re also encouraging employees to choose these options themselves. For example, vending machines are also now carrying fruit packs in addition to the traditional sweets and crisps.

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