I read a great Linkedin article which was all about how emotional wellbeing is as important, if not more important, than salary.  It was surprising to see some commenters dispute this, saying you must have a competitive salary or else no one will want to work for you.  Perhaps this person has never been unhappy in a job, or is very money driven, there are of course people who will forego happiness for money or find happiness in money and put their personal feelings and wellbeing aside.

However, there is clear evidence that our society is changing, where we are starting to place higher emphasis on our mental and physical wellbeing.  We are starting to question the overworking; the constant go go go and the long working hours that often spill into our weekends.  We are starting to question the importance of our mental health and how we are treated.  We are starting to look inward as to how we feel at work, and most importantly, we are starting to make changes when we recognise our emotions do not match up to how we want to feel at work.

“Long hours, excessive busyness and lack of sleep have become a badge of honour for many people these days. Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honour, it’s a mark of stupidity. Companies that force their crew into this bargain are cooking up dumb at their employees’ expense”.    

Jason Fried, Founder & CEO Basecamp

When it’s ‘Just a job’ how productive are we.  When it’s ‘just for the money’ do we feel good on Sunday evening contemplating the next day.  Do we skip into work thinking I love my life?

I would like to think that the tide is turning, and we are placing less emphasis on renumeration and more emphasis on ‘other benefits’ and I don’t mean free snacks, I mean feeling emotionally secure and content with a sense of trust and purpose.  Yes, there will be work ‘lows’ but there should be enough work ‘highs’ to make it all worthwhile.

Here are some examples on improving employee wellbeing:

  1. Lead by example – if you work around the clock then employees think that is the way to succeed in the business. It’s ‘do as I do, not as I say’. Getting in at 6.30am may suit your lifestyle but make sure you don’t then stay until 7pm as this sets an example for others.
  2. Understand what works for your employees – it’s not a one size fits all approach, some may get their energy from more challenges at work, whilst others may need downtime to re-charge their batteries, explore which buttons to press, then adapt your approach accordingly. Conducting wellbeing ‘check ins’ will help you understand how employees are feeling.
  3. Help them manage their work life balance – encourage time off and try to avoid holiday ‘build up’. You’d be surprised how many people don’t take their full holiday allowance.  Take advantage of quieter moments after a busy period by shutting up shop early.
  4. Gently encourage wellbeing activities – you can’t force someone to go to the gym, but there are some simple healthy activities that can be accessible to all, such as walking meetings or post meeting meditation sessions.
  5. Fun committee – put together a squad that oversees team building and fun, light-hearted activities, which could be anything from planning and organising days of celebration, a lunchtime quiz or an off-site team building event.
  6. Have a ‘genuine’ open door policy – you may think you have an open-door policy but if people assume you are always too busy, they may not want to disturb you. This may mean setting specific open-door times that people know you will be free to listen.  It’s also important to ensure they feel safe to talk about personal issues as well as work ones, as this can impact on their attention at work.

In Conclusion

Looking after employees and leaders’ wellbeing will result in better performance and engagement, alongside increased staff retention and reduced absenteeism.  Pay and renumeration will of course always play a key role in employee satisfaction.  However, the combination of financial reward and feeling good about heading into work Monday morning is unbeatable!