On average, people spend roughly a third of their life at work. This equates to around 90,000 hours in a lifetime. Work is a major part of our lives and therefore has a huge impact on our overall quality of life and wellbeing.

This highlights the importance of wellbeing at work, and ensuring our workplaces are environments that positively contribute to our overall mental and physical wellbeing.

As discussed in a previous blog post, “engagement and wellbeing; you can’t have one without the other,” employee engagement has become a growing focus for businesses and leaders, even gaining support and acknowledgement from the government. But many have criticised this approach, stating it is often too business-centric and can fail to promote employee wellbeing.

So, what exactly is employee wellbeing and how can business leaders get started with it?

The importance of employee wellbeing

As well as the obvious personal impacts of poor employee wellbeing, the economic and business impacts are also vastly detrimental. Low levels of employee wellbeing are likely to have implications throughout an organisation, from loss of productivity due to presenteeism, absence or high turnover, through to how employees communicate and interact with clients and customers.

Therefore, the profitability and reputation of an organisation can be hugely impacted by the wellbeing of their employees. Latest figures indicate that businesses lose an estimated £15.1 billion per year due to mental health problems.

However, there is a huge potential competitive advantage to be gained for businesses and organisations that successfully prioritise employee wellbeing and build thriving workforces.

Improving employee wellbeing at work

In terms of trying to improve employee wellbeing at work, it’s important to understand the drivers that impact and shape wellbeing.

Something like pay is always going to have an impact on an employee’s feelings towards their work, because it enables people to buy food, shelter and meet their other basic human needs. But too many organisations stop there because it can be hard to appreciate the complexities of other drivers.

Factors such as the demands people face at work, the amount of autonomy and clarity they have in their roles, their relationships with colleagues, the equipment, support and training they have access to, their perceptions of physical and psychological safety and security in the workplace, organisational changes to structures, roles or environments and organisational culture are all other drivers that should be recognized by employers as factors that can impact employee wellbeing. Therefore to really make a difference, you need to understand how people feel about many of these factors, and which of those really drive wellbeing for your people.

Employee wellbeing and engagement

Employee engagement is often highlighted for consideration by business leaders as it provides a clear benefit for organisational efficiency and gain. But where businesses can go wrong is how they define “engagement,” often concentrating too much on how much an employee does. This fails to include hugely important areas of employee engagement related to the feelings and emotions we have towards our jobs.

Wellbeing is employee-centric by nature and helps organisations adopt a wider approach to how they see their employees and overall workforce. Wellbeing is about understanding people, how they feel about work and what they want from an employer.

Wellbeing and engagement can be thought of as similar, but there are distinctions. For example, an employee could be perfectly happy but unproductive at the same time, and it’s no good an employee being highly engaged and productive if it leads to poor wellbeing and burnout, absence or even the employee leaving the company.

This illustrates that although both engagement and wellbeing share the same vision of happy, productive workforces, organisations can often fall-short by failing to acknowledge the wellbeing aspect that can have a large impact on employees. By focussing on “sustainable engagement”, you can address engagement and wellbeing together.

Learn More with Primary Colours Surveys

If you’d like to learn more about wellbeing and sustainable engagement at work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team here at Primary Colours Surveys. One of the best ways to evaluate employee wellbeing and engagement is through tailored employee surveys, interviews and other feedback methodologies.

With a wealth of experience and external benchmarks to help provide context to your results, we can ensure you get the insight needed and work with you to create a strategy that will make a significant impact within your organisation.

Contact us today.