Employee wellbeing: the role of technology in transforming cultures and mindsets

Gone are the days when fruit bowls and subsidized gym membership pass for a credible wellbeing program. Businesses need to seriously consider the increasing expectations of their people if they want to retain the best talent.

Our employees increasingly expect progressive ways of working

In the age of digitalization, millennials have been the traditional driving force behind progressive work initiatives, but, as seen with research from workplace provider Regus, the aging workforce is following suit with 72% of those aged 55-plus now demanding a more flexible working environment.

With greater demand for flexibility in the workplace, ambitious employers need to evaluate their culture and create a more progressive wellbeing approach for their people. Companies that incorporate a range of initiatives relating to both mental and physical health, combined with flexible working practices, nurture a happier, healthier and engaged group of people leading to greater innovation and productivity.

Technology-led solutions

Employers are increasingly turning to technology-led solutions to find more progressive ways of working, whether it’s remote team working, document sharing, virtual team meetings, etc.

Wellness apps also have a strong part to play to enable digitally savvy employees to receive support through a smartphone 24/7.  At Landor for example, introducing a bespoke wellness app offering advice on a whole host of topics within the mental health and wellbeing sphere has been incredibly well received by the teams with a 79% uptake of the app.

Being able to offer both a tech-led response to positive mental health combined with physical support systems can be extremely impactful for employers in creating a culture of wellbeing.

Wellbeing in the workplace

In 2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that work-related stress, anxiety, or depression accounted for 57 percent of all workdays lost due to ill health in Great Britain.

Through interactive wellbeing initiatives, employers can help to create a stress-free working environment to cut down on levels of absenteeism and improve employee engagement overall. Workshops for mindfulness,  yoga sessions or even quiet ‘chill out’ spaces in the office give people supportive outlets where they can focus on their mental wellbeing during working hours.

Landor introduced a ‘Lunch and Learn’ series specifically to recognize the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. During these sessions employees can hear from external speakers on a plethora of topics relating to mental and physical wellbeing; from mental health, nutritional clinics to financial and legal advisory sessions.

It is also crucial  to ensure that employees feel comfortable to use such initiatives within the workplace. It is so important that as an employer the level of stigma associated with mental health is much reduced and that the  creation of an open and honest culture is top of the agenda.

Reducing the mental health stigma

Offering counseling sessions at work and training staff to act as mental health ‘first aiders’ are two significant ways employers can help tackle mental health stigma. Both approaches can create an open and supportive culture where managing mental health is normalized. In addition, it encourages employees to be mindful of their colleagues to mental and physical health.

Five Top Tips for an impactful Wellbeing Programme

  1. Keep wellbeing at the top of the business agenda and the executive team committed to its success. It’s a commercial driver!
  2. Ensure it’s a multi-generational approach – incorporate both tech-led and physical support initiatives
  3. Create a culture of openness and honesty to encourage and support mental health and wellbeing overall
  4. Invest in a tech-led solution, whether a wellbeing app for all staff, an online self-help program or virtual counseling
  5. Measure its success through both commercial KPIs (absenteeism, retention etc) and engagement pulse surveys

Technology continues to have a big part to play and forward-thinking employers will push to innovate and create even more evolved wellbeing solutions.

It’s obvious, but a happier, healthier workforce is a more engaged and productive workforce, and from a commercial perspective, employee wellbeing continues to gather momentum.

For employers looking to meet the expectations of a multi-generational workforce, the combination of tech-led wellbeing and flexible working solutions alongside physical support systems can prove a significant competitive advantage, helping retain talent, boost creativity and innovation and productivity.

Carol-Ann White is chief talent officer based in our London office.

This article was first published on HRtechoutlook.com.