Common wisdom holds that worker productivity is one of the key factors in a company’s success.
While this is obviously true, this fact can often be dangerously misinterpreted, even by highly qualified managers and business leaders.
This can ultimately lead to harmful management practices which seek to squeeze maximum productivity out of workers at the expense of their happiness. Productivity itself can be quantified, but many of the factors behind it cannot be so easily measured and managed. One such factor is employee and workplace wellbeing.
If you’re familiar with general health and wellbeing discourse, you might have already heard of the term ‘subjective wellbeing’ (or SWB). This is used to refer to ‘a person’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life’. An extensive government report on wellbeing in the workplace explains the two broad approaches to subjective wellbeing.
The first kind, ‘hedonic’ approaches, focus on the affective feelings a person experiences in the course of their job – such as anxiety or contentment – as well as the adequacy of those feelings. An example of a hedonic approach to subjective wellbeing would be job satisfaction surveys or ratings. Evidence shows that these ratings have an influence of employees’ decision-making and behaviours, such as whether to find another job or not. The ‘eudemonic’ approach to SWB, on the other hand, ‘focuses on the extent to which a person experiences feelings that are considered to demonstrate good mental health’, such as feeling a sense of purpose in a job.
What’s important to take away from this is that wellbeing is not simply the result of material factors such as pay, hours worked or physical illness; it is also comprised of subjective categories of mental wellbeing and self-image – the psychosocial.
A report from NEF compiles the vast array of evidence on the factors influencing wellbeing at work. The evidence suggests that there has been a shift in what motivates people to work; from a maximisation of income and job security, to a growing insistence on work that is meaningful and purposeful. In other words, eudemonic factors have come to dominate subjective wellbeing.
They conclude that businesses must do the following:
Improve people management and employee engagement
This could involve empowering line managers to give employees a voice in the way the business is run. It also involves a certain number of managerial behaviours, such as how managers “express and manage their own emotions, manage conflict, are accessible and visible, and manage workload and resources”.
Construct positive organisational responses
These include policies relating to stress management and ‘unsociable’ shift patterns. It also relates to hiring processes for management, such as hiring those who are good at people management, rather than simply good at their jobs. Finally, this could also include evaluating existing wellbeing initiatives.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 137 million work days were lost due to sickness or injury absences in the UK in 2016. It’s clear that the lack of a comprehensive wellbeing scheme can significantly damage output; the effort of putting a strong scheme in place might seem like a chore, but it will ultimately pay off for you and your employees. Focusing on the three key areas of leadership, culture and communication, the Workplace Wellbeing Charter offers guidance, auditing services and accreditation for businesses interested in improving workplace wellbeing. As Professor Dame Carol Black, the Expert Adviser on Health and Work says, “The positive impact that employment can have on health and wellbeing is now well documented. There is also strong evidence to show how having a health workforce can reduce sickness absence, lower staff turnover and boost productivity – this is good for employers, workers and the wider economy.”
The priority.me holistic assessment offers businesses the opportunity to understand their employees health and wellbeing and support workplace wellbeing schemes which, encouragingly are beginning to gain traction with UK businesses.
Founding PDH member Louise McGill recently returned to her native Australia and will be helping to spearhead the development of new markets for the priority suite of health and lifestyle products.
Based on Australia’s east coast in Brisbane, Louise will capitalise on recent support and advice the business has received from the Department of International Trade here in the UK.
Louise said that, while Australia is indeed a very different market to the UK, the interest and growing demand for user-led digital solutions is at an all-time high.
“In general, Australia performs well across the different wellbeing dimensions relative to other OECD countries but there’s still very much a way to go.
“Interest in supporting both residents and their communities in looking after their wellbeing is high, with the preventative agenda very much leading the way in this area.”
For further insight into how OECD countries perform in regards to wellbeing, see ‘How’s Life? Nov 2017’: www.OECD.org
We’re delighted to announce that we’re working with Everyone Health in Waltham Forest on a new digital lifestyle assessment platform and support website for their stop smoking service in Waltham Forest, using our priority.me platform.
The new ‘QuitWaltham’ website is being developed to complement the social media activity already available to residents. Launching in a few weeks time, the site will be full of tips and advice about quitting smoking and includes our bespoke priority.me lifestyle assessment which is the beginning of a supported stop smoking programme and allows residents to set goals, monitor their quit progress and stay in touch with the team at Everyone Health should they choose to do so. The service provides free expert advice, support and encouragement to help residents to stop smoking for good.
for more information on the service.
Maintaining good health is all about the balance between eating the right food (in the right amounts) and exercising both body and mind.
As a keen gardener, PDH Director Alison Meadows understands that gardening can not only be beneficial to our mental health, but it can give your body a pretty substantial workout too. And she’s in good company.
Author William Bird, a GP for over 30 years and the Strategic Health Advisor for Natural England, has been a long time advocate for preventing illness through use of the natural environment.
Being acutely aware of the detrimental effect that living in concrete jungles has on our wellbeing, he has been vociferous in urging family doctors to prescribe gardening to prevent the onset of many diseases.
With research showing that physically touching soil and plants has a dramatic effect on reducing stress, and Dr Bird’s claim that:
In the North of England, there are a group of Leeds health practitioners who have already ‘seen the light,’ and have started an allotment scheme for patients. The scheme not only gets patients moving outdoors (which keeps them healthy and provides them with vitamin D), the fruit and vegetables they grow also encourage healthy eating patterns.
Research shows that the human body has a physiological reaction to entering an outdoor environment, so much so that within minutes of being in a garden, muscle tension and blood pressure reduces and stress levels subside. This ultimately prevents the release of cell-damaging free radicals. Damaged cells cause untold harm in our bodies, resulting in premature aging, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and arthritis to name but a few afflictions.
As we get older, our access to fitness becomes limited, and although we hear about incredible feats of nature in the media (take the marathon runner aged 101), the majority of the older generation find it difficult to exercise due to health or mobility issues. The charity Thrive’s Chief Executive Nicola Carruthers, said:
Thrive endorse the standpoint that pushing a lawn mower, digging up weeds and stretching to prune trees and hedges, uses muscle groups all over the body. This equates to an energetic workout.
Motivation is also less of an issue with gardening, as it can be with exercise. With plants that need watering and taking care of to survive, the ‘get up and go’ mentality is soon forthcoming, and the resulting ‘harvest’ of either flora or fauna seems to produce bigger rewards than counting calories and performing bicep curls.
With gardening being regarded as a hobby, not an exercise, the derived health benefits are so much sweeter.