Employee Wellbeing and Productivity

Employers and employees both understand the importance of employee wellbeing, for a variety of different reasons.

No matter how old a company is, monitoring and fostering productivity from employees is a key to success. However, some employers may find it difficult to get as much out of their employees as they believe they’re capable.

Everyone should feel happy in their workplace, but employers may feel that more can be done to increase productivity. This is where understanding employee wellbeing comes into play, as employers can easily see the benefits from higher rates of wellbeing.

This applies to both practical reasons as well as the simple fact of having a good sense of mood and morale in the workplace. Without these simple benefits, it’s not just productivity that can be harmed.

The costs of low employee wellbeing

You can work hard to ensure your employee’s working environment is comfortable and that their workload is reasonable, but it can still feel like your employees aren’t working as productive as they can.

Stats from The Office for National Statistics suggest that companies across the UK are seeing similar issues with their workplaces. A study conducted in 2015 estimated that output per hour worked in the UK was 15.9% below the average for the rest of the G7 advanced economies.

In regards to seeing a purely monetary loss to low employee wellbeing, the Centre for Mental Health discovered some worrying stats. They suggest that every year, UK companies lose £34.9 billion in productivity. These are a result of mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression; each of which is hampered or even caused by poor employee wellbeing.

Higher wellbeing means that employees will be much less likely to have absences, whether it’s due to illness or simply going AWOL. Better yet, there are clear cases that show that higher employee wellbeing results in higher rates of productivity.

The connection between employee wellbeing and productivity

One of the most compelling arguments for a connection between employee wellbeing and productivity is the human relations theory. It outlines how higher employee wellbeing is often tandem with higher morale. Higher morale will, in turn, lead to higher productivity.

It also suggests that positive emotions, such as heightened comradery with co-workers and pride in the work completed, will lead to heightened motivation. Once again, with higher motivation to strive towards better results comes better job outcomes.

Studies have shown this, such as the Edmans 2011 & 2012 studies that examined the connection between employee satisfaction and the long-run stock market returns of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America”.

Edmans discovered that the companies with higher job satisfaction and employee wellbeing performed almost 4% better in the stock market than their industry standards. This rate continued for almost 30 years, showcasing a clear difference between those that invest in employee wellbeing and those who simply ask their employees to work.

Simply put, as employees become and remain motivated to work, their quality of work and rate of production will remain consistent or even rise.

How to improve employee wellbeing

There are many ways you can improve employee wellbeing. These range from short-term, even simple solutions to investments within your company that should yield long-term results.

Just a handful of these include:

Create a respectful culture that values employees

Regular shout-outs for good work, letting employees feel like a part of company successes, and regular encouragement helps foster a real sense of teamwork and company pride. Showing employees that they’re detrimental to the success of a business and that their efforts don’t go unnoticed are easy, feel-good ways of increasing motivation and wellbeing.

Ensure regular communication

Whether it’s an ‘open door’ policy or frequent catch-ups, managerial and senior members of staff should always have their ear to the ground and be open to regular communication with their employees.

This shows employees that they’re allowed and even encouraged to voice their concerns or ask questions about their workplace. It’s always best to address any potential problems before they become major issues.

Encourage good physical health

Exercise and healthy habits naturally make us feel better, so encouraging employees to take care of themselves at home will naturally spill over into their work lives. For office-based roles, it’s easy to simply provide free fruit or healthier options for snacks, yet even remote working has opportunities fro encouraging good habits.

For example, a weekly exercise routine over Skype or Zoom with a company can have everyone on the same page about regular exercise.

Offer flexibility with working times

Sometimes, a rigid working structure restricts more employees than it helps a business. For remote workers, one of the benefits of working from home is essentially having the freedom to work their hours however they see fit. Depending on how your business works (such as having workers with shifts compared to 9 to 5 salary roles) you should explore flexible working hours.

Giving employees freedom with how they work can lead to a sense of control that will encourage motivation and overall wellbeing.

Breaks to break up work

It can be all too easy for an employee to get immersed in a task or project and forget to take some time away from their desks. Regular reminders of breaks an employee is entitled to may help nudge them into a more healthy working pattern, as without regular breaks an employee can easily burn out.

Not only is this one of the worst results of poor employee wellbeing, but it can also be a major halt to any production. Simply remind employees that they have breaks available if they need to take them, and to ensure that they don’t overexert themselves.

Staying connected when not in work

For those primarily working from home, talking to co-workers during working hours may be some of the only interactions they have throughout the day. The global pandemic and various lockdowns have made people feel more isolated than ever before, especially those living on their own, so checking in with co-workers or employees outside of office hours can go a long way.

Regular Skype or Zoom events, such as game nights, quiz nights or even just watching the same movie together, can help some employees remain connected and keep their spirits up.

Mental health support services

Last but certainly not least are the investments you can make in a company to ensure that virtually all wellbeing needs are catered to. Enlisting the aid of mental health support services, such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs), provides employees with impartial assistance if the likes of stress ever start affecting their work.

Giving employees easy access to services such as counselling will help them maintain a healthy work-life balance, keep their wellbeing positive and, ultimately, lead to a more productive workforce.

About the author

Kayleigh Frost is Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured, she holds extensive knowledge of mental health and wellbeing, with a specific focus within the workplace. A qualified Mental Health First Aider and A clinical department head.