How to Manage Your Team’s Wellbeing

Written by Wholegrain Team - December 5, 2016

The 21st century workplace is moving at an incredible pace. Technology is improving rapidly, enabling work people to work from wherever they choose, whether that’s the comfort of their own home or a desert island. But it isn’t all a bed of roses…

Because we’re surrounded by our mobile devices, it can be much more difficult to switch off – there’s always the temptation of answering one more email, or completing one more task before we feel like our day has been a success.

So it’s little wonder that our levels of stress and anxiety are also on the rise.

Employers have a big responsibility in this. We spend roughly one third of our working lives in our jobs – if we work full time – so staff wellbeing is crucial. A happy employee is a productive employee, so by looking after your staff and implementing different ways to help boost their wellbeing, you’ll reap rewards in terms of increased staff morale, a boost in productivity, great staff retention rates and reduced sickness.

Because wellbeing is best tackled via a holistic approach, let’s look at five different aspects of wellbeing: physical, emotional, social, financial, and environmental.

1. Physical Wellbeing

Sitting too much is killing us. Human beings are not designed to sit for long hours every day, staring at a screen. One of the best ways to combat this is to encourage people to reduce the amount of time they sit at their desks. This can mean using a standing desk for part of the day – even standing for two hours each day can increase the muscle activity in your legs, having a significant impact on your health and fitness.

When staff work from sitting desks, ensure their workspaces are set up properly. Health and safety in the workplace means employers have a responsibility to regulate workspaces, but this should extend to remote working too. While you can’t prevent an employee from hunching over on their sofa all day, you can educate them on safe working practices – which includes taking regular breaks for exercise.

Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your team’s health and fitness, and boost their mental wellbeing. While not all employers can accommodate an on-site gym, you can consider providing a subsidised gym membership, promoting a cycle to work scheme and encouraging active team events such as a walking club or yoga/pilates classes. There’s even the option of providing subsidised wearable technology to encourage exercise, such as a Fitbit.

Diet plays a large part in your team’s physical wellbeing as well. If you provide snacks at work, ditch the junk and opt for healthy, brain-boosting foods. You could even encourage team members to share their healthy recipes, perhaps taking in turns to bring in something healthy to share once a week.

2. Emotional Wellbeing

Our brains aren’t designed to be constantly stimulated, so sitting on a screen all day, going home to play video games, and spending the time in between glued to a mobile device is bad news for your mental wellbeing. Just because we can be permanently connected, doesn’t mean we should be. People need time to disconnect after work and it’s an employer’s responsibility to spread this message.

While you don’t want to dictate working hours to your staff, especially if you have staff working remotely across different time zones, offer guidance on the maximum numbers of hours they should work each day, and encourage them to take regular breaks.

Emotional wellbeing is about more than just handling stress. Teach people how to pay attention to their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and take care to look for stress triggers amongst your staff and to offer tips to help them manage it.

Equally important as managing staff hours of work, is teaching the brain how to cope with chaos. Mindfulness training offers a great way of helping people to identify what they’re feeling and giving them strategies to cope. One of our favourite ways of working on this is with the Headspace meditation app, but there are many others.

If you see a member of staff is struggling, offer them support in the form of counselling, psychological support or compassionate leave. Promoting an environment of empathy and compassion will give employees the courage to say when things are getting bad, without worrying that it will affect their job.

3. Social Wellbeing

Human beings are social creatures and our social wellbeing plays a crucial part in our overall wellbeing. So getting our work–life balance right is key.

Offering a generous holiday allowance and allowing flexible working hours will help your staff get their lives in balance, allowing them to fit their working commitments around their family ones. Offering remote working can benefit your employees and your business – a 2-hour commute into London isn’t uncommon, so allowing remote working could give staff the chance to put in an extra hour for you and have more family time too.

For your office-based workers, having a community space where people can socialise, chat and laugh together will help to break up their day and encourage team bonding, as will something fun like an office book club.

For remote staff, one of the biggest problems is social isolation, which could lead to greater problems such as depression. One way around this is to encourage or supplement them to work from a co-working space. Alternatively, encourage a spirit of communication with live chat apps such as Slack, and arrange for team events where everybody can get together and get to know each other in person.

4. Financial Wellbeing

Financial concerns are one of the biggest causes of stress around the workplace. Discussing money has long been a taboo, but it shouldn’t be.

Financial wellbeing involves having adequate resources to fall back on, but also being capable of making informed decisions to maintain financial security – something that isn’t taught at school. For this reason, it’s important to impress on your employees, especially the younger ones, about the importance of saving. Depending on the size of your company, you may be able to offer a workplace Individual Savings Account (ISA) to help create a better sense of financial wellbeing, or even an employee share scheme.

Debt and money worries, stress, reduced productivity and absences are all linked, so offering some sort of financial education or savings scheme will go a long way to improving your team’s financial wellbeing.

5. Environmental Wellbeing

Finally, make your team aware of our natural environment and the impact we have on our planet – because the health of our planet affects us all.

Consider your organisation’s environmental mission and educate your team in sustainable practices, including energy saving, waste management, and ethical concerns. If your team share your environmental values, and believe that you’re dedicated to them, they’ll be more engaged and motivated too.

Encourage your team to build your sustainability practices into their daily lives, by carpooling or using public transport to travel, switching to an electric vehicle, cycling to work, or even volunteering in the community. You could get involved in a community initiative such as beautifying a green space – something that will benefit the community and your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Encourage plants in your office too – a green office will have fresher air and be a nicer place to be, which all contribute to fewer days of staff sickness.

Managing your team’s wellbeing is key to keeping your employees motivated and productive. When you develop a reputation of looking after your team’s wellbeing, it makes it easier to attract and retain good staff, plus it feeds into your company brand, making other ethical companies and organisations more likely to turn to you than work with your competitors.

What tips do you have for managing your team’s wellbeing? Have we missed out anything important? Tell us below…