How business owners can retain staff by supporting health and wellbeing
November 21, 2022 | Tristan Marris
It’s important to keep the conversations about wellbeing and mental health flowing, but what can we actually do? How can we make positive changes for ourselves and for the people we work with?
We’re experiencing an extremely tight labour market and there are still concerns about further post-COVID impacts on the economy, so it’s essential we look after our staff to keep business afloat.
Here are a few ideas for you to build on.
Put people before profits
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating – your people really are your most valuable asset. Look for ways to make work more accessible and enjoyable for your staff – even if it means you need to change some of the rules or spend a bit of money.
How you do this will depend on your workplace and what your team members need and value. But here are some ideas to brainstorm for creating a positive environment for your staff – some big, some small, depending on what your budget allows.
• do those much needed office renos you’ve been thinking about
• introduce wellness programs and/or offer counselling (see below)
• create new opportunities for staff input/feedback (a new meeting agenda item)
• hire an external expert to help with any internal morale or personnel issues
• build in a chill-out zone or creativity space where people aren’t chained to their desk
• introduce pet-friendly Fridays
• allow employee volunteer leave days
• replace/upgrade the coffee machine
• install a water filter or water cooler
• stock the workplace with healthy snacks
• create fun team videos for social media
• schedule staff meetings off-site (take it to the local park for some fresh air)
• put on team lunches or “micro” events where everyone comes together socially – build relationships that don’t always centre around work
Showing people that you care about them doesn’t need to involve grand gestures. But it does involve asking them what they need, and then listening carefully. This is about them, remember, not the company. What’s best for the company, after all, is looking after the people who turn its engine.
Invest in wellbeing resources
If your budget allows for it, look into wellbeing resources and programs that are right for your team members (and do some research into what funding grants or subsidies might be available). Start by asking your staff what areas of support they’d be interested in. Don’t roll out any new programs before gathering feedback from the people who will use them.
This may include onsite wellness classes, subsidies to a gym or websites like www.myeverydaywellbeing.com etc. Encouraging and enabling people to incorporate more movement into their daily routine or eating healthy goes a long way towards improved mental health, stress reduction, positive morale and company loyalty.
Also look at ways to offer counselling to your team members. Studies show that people are less likely to participate in counselling if they have to do the research and sourcing themselves. If they’re offered a free or funded program that has already been vetted and arranged, however, it’s much easier to say yes.
There are a number of valuable services offered in NZ through EAP Services. Their employee assistance programmes include mental health counselling and support through an easy-to-use and confidential platform. This is a great place to start.
Create an environment where people want to work
Long ago offices were designed around cubicles, where people adhered to the same rules during the same hours. Fast forward to today, and we’re seeing the impact that physical surroundings have on our creativity, productivity and overall enjoyment of work.
We’ve discovered that it’s no longer necessary to have all our staff working in the same building during the same hours. Lockdown proved for many organisations that remote working and flexi hours can actually increase productivity and improve staff morale – leading to greater staff retention and other positive impacts on your businesses bottomline.
Business owners and managers who support health and wellbeing initiatives generally do reap the benefits of engaged, healthier and more loyal employees.