Would you try something new at work if it led to a more positive employee experience?
We explore ways to boost employee wellbeing to drive greater engagement and productivity.
Employee wellbeing goes way beyond offering discounted gym memberships to help keep lost days to sickness and ill health to a minimum. As our jobs have become a bigger part of our lives, so too has the employee experience that a company offers.
Today’s modern workforce demand more from their employers than ever before. And top of their list is a productive, positive employee experience.
With millennials making up 50% of the workforce by the start of the next decade, employers need to sit up and take note.
Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate: An Essential Guide to Employee Engagement’ study tells us that it’s this positive employee experience that has emerged as the new ‘contract’ between employer and employee (Deloitte).
Job hopping is a thing and positive working experiences play a huge part in increasing employee retention. So how can you focus on employee wellbeing and create the kind of corporate culture that attracts and retains staff?
Sodexo’s Jacquie Mills, Head of Client Operations, Employee Benefits says, “Behind every successful organisation is its people. By establishing and nurturing a positive working environment that prioritises open and inspiring communication, we can keep people healthy and motivate them to come into work with vigour.”
Employees know that companies want their people to be more productive. Making it happen has a lot to do with the sort of culture you build from the inside out.
1. CREATE A SENSE OF PURPOSE
Just 19% of millennials think that large companies are the ideal size of businesses to work for – but once they do, they seem to stay for longer. Could this be to do with the fact that larger corporates have a clear picture of who they are and what they stand for?
Big businesses often have a focused brand story.
Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations and author of Joy Inc told a Google Hangout, hosted by Virgin Unite, that purpose starts and continues with stories. He says, “Our workplace culture is fostered around stories – how we got to being where we are today and what we believe together as a team.”
It’s creating a sense of meaning that helps to bring people in and engage with them. Sheridan adds, “If we can align the world’s outside perception of us with our inside reality, we can create an engaging place to work.”
Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate’ study tells us that it’s ‘meaning and not money that humans crave the most’. Give your people a sense of meaning, recognising success and achievements, and you begin to boost employee engagement.
Something that makes everyone feel better.
2. CONSIDER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
No longer a fully term only associated with parents, work-life balance is key to employee wellbeing. Employers can’t afford to ignore it.
Driving this trend is the fact that millennials want greater work-life balance – a whopping 57% of millennials say that it’s very important. After all, they’ve grown up with the technology to facilitate it.
By improving quality of life, you can put psychological wellbeing at the centre of your corporate offering. As the Sodexo study reveals, “When employees are at ease they are more creative and feel greater freedom to express their authentic talents and be themselves.”
Just look at Virgin’s work anywhere and unlimited holiday policy. The focus of forward thinking companies like these is to look at what gets done, not how it gets done.
With greater access to communication tools like the online apps, Slack and Skype, employees certainly have the technology to readily enable flexible working.
Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate’ study tells us that we’ll be seeing more and more organisations battling to out-think and outmanoeuvre competitors in the race for talent. Given that Virgin don’t seem to have a problem with employee retention, there’s definitely got to be something in it.
3. GET YOUR PEOPLE TO MEDITATE
Now go with it. You know what it’s like when you’ve been staring for hours at a computer screen and yet you still can’t find the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Sometimes you walk away or make a cup of tea and then, pow! You have a moment of clarity and manage to do what you’ve been trying to do all morning in a matter of minutes.
The point is, sometimes it pays to walk away and think about something else. That’s how relaxation rooms are working for employees in companies like Nike and Google. It can help staff to better focus on their role, assisting with decision making, creativity and innovation. And it’s a major stress manager.
Mindfulness has been shown to offer employees very real benefits. It’s about being in the moment, meaning you’re not dwelling on a meeting from yesterday or worrying about tomorrow’s targets. And that’s believed to make people more productive.
In fact, in the last few years, a lot of CEOS have ‘come out’ as meditators, says Ariana Huffington. She says, “Meditation is really a proxy for the recognition that we all need to integrate some recharging time into our lives. It’s contrary to the delusion that working round the clock is a recipe for success.”
4. Know the importance of downtime
In today’s always-on culture, we’ve lost the importance of switching off. People shouldn’t have to answer emails after working hours unless it’s part of their role and they’re actively being paid to work night shifts.
Ask if your company needs to implement a new email policy. If it’s good enough for France, it’s good enough for us. Yes, employees should have a right to disconnect, but also, from a business point of view, emails limit our productivity.
Think about it, if you spend an hour every morning just responding to other people’s emails, you’re not getting on with your actual job. And who even reads all of their emails anyway? It’s questionable. Email can distract us from the task we’re engaged in.
If employees don’t need to compulsively answer everything, they will save time. And when they do, brevity should be key. Employees needn’t top and tail every email. It’s all good time management and when you encourage this, you can improve employee productivity and wellbeing.
“We forbid people to check their email on vacation”, says Rich Sheridan. “Employees don’t get to take laptops with them as what kind of vacation is that anyway? All of this is to do with creating a sustainable workplace culture.”
5. SHOW YOU APPRECIATE YOUR STAFF
No one likes to feel unappreciated at work. If you tell staff they matter by giving them a little something to say thank you for their efforts, you’ll create workplace engagement. Even just saying 'thanks' for a job well done can make a huge difference to the lives of employees - more than you'd think!
Engagement tools like employee recognition platforms can work wonders in building a positive workplace culture. Reinforce your values, culture and successes by giving staff incentives like rewards credit cards or gift cards and vouchers.
Think about employee awards like long service awards or events to celebrate good times and motivational success stories. A good engagement specialist will be able to help businesses design an incentive and recognition scheme that really aligns with the company values and the individuals that work there.
Ariana Huffington says, “We have a responsibility to put the spotlight on when good things happen.”
Positivity can drive work engagement in all sorts of ways.
6. PUMP FEAR OUT OF THE ROOM
In turn, you must embrace positivity and banish negativity. Accept that humans make mistakes but focus on how these mistakes can be a positive, turning them into a business success story instead.
If you’re too busy focusing on the little mistakes, you might not see the big one this lack of focus can lead to.
Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate’ study tells us that employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged. What’s more, 78% of employees feel they are making a difference and feel appreciated when managers focus on their strengths over their weaknesses.
Employees value autonomy to make a difference in their daily roles.
Leadership has a huge part to play in helping to create engaged employees and drive productivity. If you invest in your managers to help them learn the do's and don'ts of staff motivation and how to handle mistake making in a positive way, you will build a more positive workplace culture.
In another Sodexo eBook, Boost the Best Behaviours: The Ultimate Guide, Sodexo Ambassador Matt Dawson, outlined some good tips to remember when training managers to become leaders.
Matt says, “Creating a positive business culture starts with humility and being ready to learn from anyone and everyone.”
Trust in leaders is paramount. Get that right and you’ll contribute to your company in a way that will make everyone feel good.
DELIVER THE ULTIMATE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
Ultimately, to create a positive employee experience, ask yourself what sort of business you’d like to work in? Apply the human touch to everything you do and you’ll really begin to engage people. .
Go beyond the average and think creatively about performance incentives to build the kind of culture that people want to be a part of and work hard for. Feel inspired and you’ll soon inspire others. We’re in, are you?