In April 2022, the Health And Wellbeing At Work Report by the CIPD (professional body for HR and people development) was released. It revealed that 75% of HR respondents believe that employee wellbeing is a priority for senior leaders and that 42% think senior leaders encourage a focus on mental wellbeing through their actions. However, these figures are slightly fallen compared to the previous year’s report. Perhaps this is due to the pressure of the predicted UK recession or because many businesses are in a recovery period following the pandemic.
Likely it seems that a decrease in prioritising team wellbeing is a result of distractions rather than unwillingness. Especially as we’re increasingly seeing evidence of how prioritising team wellbeing can increase productivity.
During busy times and economic uncertainty, it can be easy to let wellness in the workplace go unchecked. This can be detrimental as wellbeing is not a box-ticking exercise or one-time project but an ongoing process. This is why we wanted to look at the real benefits and specifically at 5 ways prioritising team wellbeing can increase productivity:
A key benefit of ensuring employees are well is they are less likely to be absent from work. According to a Deloitte 2022 survey, mental health-related staff absence costs UK businesses £56 billion per year. Whilst not all of this may be triggered by work, since most people spend circa 31-45 hours per week working, it stands to reason that the workplace should be one of the places where mental health is addressed.
Though short-term absence may have less of an impact, mental health conditions tend to develop, resulting in possible longer-term leave from work. Hence why it is important not only to ensure the workplace is encouraging the wellbeing of its employees but also that there is a proper process and support system in place for those who begin to suffer from stress.
Wellbeing should be a priority for UK businesses that rely on employees being well and at full function in the workplace. However, businesses and team leaders should also be aware of what to look out for in terms of the early signs of burnout and have a compassionate procedure for approaching and assisting employees they believe may be experiencing work-related stress.
As well as affecting the person signed-off for stress, staff absence can also have a detrimental effect on the team and the wider business, as staff absence usually increases everybody’s workload.
Businesses that prioritise team wellbeing often see a decrease in employee absence and therefore an increase in productivity.
Happy people are nicer people. When we’re positively energised, motivated and fulfilled we have more patience, empathy and optimism. This can improve our relationships, especially in the workplace where people often need to work with those they wouldn’t necessarily have chosen as friends.
Building good relationships at work can be a struggle. Especially since many of us are in roles where we need to come to agreements regarding decisions or directions to take. Within a group of people all skilled for their roles, disagreements in teams are completely understandable and common. It’s how we deal with them that's important. Conflicting ideas and debates can help us to develop, to create better products or come up with better ways of doing things. This is a key reason for creating teams - we can make each other better. Of course, sometimes this works well and at other times it causes conflict. There are many factors involved in whether colleagues work well together or not, yet the wellbeing of employees plays a major part.
Prioritising team wellbeing can increase productivity among team members because they are more likely to get along better. Especially if a business's wellness schemes include team bonding by incorporating group rewards and events. Team-based reward schemes encourage members to ensure no one is left behind, meaning that working well together and focusing on a common goal nurtures not only the work project but also the relationships between employees. Rewarding successes fuel wellness and in turn reminds employees that they owe such successes to one another as much as themselves.
Increased Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and wellbeing go hand in hand.
Creativity is cited as a key component in fuelling wellbeing. Being creative, in nature and approach, can help us to find solutions to problems. Doing so can give us a sense of fulfilment and achievement and can stimulate mental wellness.
Wellbeing can also increase our ability to be creative. Creativity is understandably impacted when we are under stress or approaching burnout. Therefore, when wellbeing is not prioritised by businesses, teams can find creativity harder to harness. This can lead to a drop in productivity and innovation. However, when a culture of wellbeing is established and protected, employees who benefit from this may also perform better, especially in areas of creativity and innovation.
In addition, allowing employees more opportunities to be creative and present their ideas can have a positive impact both on business and on wellbeing. People need to feel valued and useful. They want to know they have an essential role that makes a difference and the ability to raise ideas and work creativity underpins this.
Wellbeing initiatives can also be creativity focused. For example, team-building exercises or events that involve teams being creative or artistic outlets can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
Reputation is everything. In the modern world, this is even more true. With faster access to information than ever before and social media documenting not only a company’s successes but also the behind-the-scenes action, clients and customers are not only making decisions based on what they are selling/offering but on who they are as an entity. This includes the way businesses care for their people.
Many will assume that how a company takes care of its own will be reflected in how it takes care of its customers. Having a reputation as a company that prioritises team wellbeing can therefore affect the wider success and also who a business is able to attract to work in the organisation. Businesses with reputations as great places to work will inevitably attract the kind of employees whose talent means they can choose where they work. Having strong people makes a company stronger and improves productivity. Yet, companies cannot expect to attract or retain these employees if they do not create and nourish a culture of wellbeing. Not if their competitors are.
High levels of staff turnover are disruptive. It can stall growth, make it difficult for employees to build productive working relationships and it can discourage talented potential recruits from joining an organisation. In short, high turnover costs businesses money.
Again, there are many factors involved in retaining talent including salary, development opportunities and flexibility. However, these are also components of wellness and wellbeing itself plays a part too. Happy people don’t generally look to make changes in areas of their lives that bring them joy. A culture of wellbeing is highly valuable both to the company and the individuals that work there.
The 2022 Deloitte survey, mentioned earlier, also reported that 28% of employees either left in 2021 or were planning to leave their jobs in 2022. 61% of these cited poor mental health as the key reason. So, not only is team wellbeing crucial to productivity but it's essential in retaining employees.
Well-thought-out and implemented programmes that encourage and nurture wellbeing in the workplace can see a decrease in work-related mental health problems. Despite a continued increase in work productivity over the past decade, the workplace can still be a stress-fuelled place. Especially in difficult economic climates and even when a company is experiencing success since that can up the pressure. Therefore, there needs to be a foundation of care, respect and rewards that aim to combat stress and make the workplace somewhere staff want to be. If you can do this, they will be far less likely to take their skills elsewhere.
For tips on improving wellbeing in the workplace, take a look at these blog posts;