What is workplace wellbeing?
Workplace wellbeing encompasses activities, programs, policies and strategies that aim to promote both positive physical and psychological health at work. However, many also overlap with personal wellbeing outside of work because of course you can’t maintain good wellbeing at home but not at work and vice versa.
Workplace wellbeing has become increasingly important within many organisations in recent years with the rise of hybrid working and the knowledge of research that shows 34% of people say work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives.
In this blog post we will discuss the six best known pillars of workplace wellbeing, how companies can help promote them to employees and make sure wellbeing at work is embedded properly.
What are the Six Pillars of workplace wellbeing?
The six pillars – job security, financial security, health, support, protection and work-life balance – are an ethos that derives from the idea that employee performance is linked to six key areas of wellbeing in the workplace. They also, in some ways, interlink with each other.
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1. Job security
It’s not just during the probationary period of a new job where some people may feel a little apprehensive about how secure their role and future may be. The last few years have seen countless companies, including some big names, either collapse or make mass redundancies – often without notice. These newspieces can sometimes be enough to instil uncertainty in people that may be in long-standing companies where they’ve been employed for years, let alone relatively new employees or people working in start-up companies.
While no company can be completely sure that they won’t ever have to close down or make cuts, they can try and have backup plans and strategies in place that make sure employees are not told they’ve lost their jobs on the same day or left out in the cold. This can be as simple as ensuring that a notice period is given to employees to find new jobs and redundancy settlements are provided and are fair.
There are other situations where job security may be at risk, which are often unspoken about. This can be where people who experience or witness problematic behaviour at work might be disciplined or let go rather than the perpetrator. From our research, 28% of people said if they witnessed someone being bullied by somebody senior to them they wouldn’t get involved through fear of the repercussions and 6% wouldn’t report it through fear of being dismissed. Policies and procedures must ensure that those who are brave enough to step in or step up are not the ones whose job security is on the line.
2. Financial security
One of the most relative pillars to job security is financial security. It is no surprise that those who are on lower than average salaries or minimum wage are the most worried about their finances. And some of those lower earners may be in positions within companies where they feel they are lower in the structural hierarchy or more easily dispensable. But even those on higher salaries have been proven to worry about job security as well which is likely due to the higher pressure they face to deliver and perform than those on lower salaries and in more junior positions.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, average UK employee earnings have not grown as fast as prices and from 2008 to 2020, pay for the average worker has barely changed. During and since the pandemic this has been thrown further into chaos as both job and financial security have become big worries for millions of people.
As many organisations also feel the pinch on their finances, it can make it harder to fairly compensate employees and stay afloat. Some tips employers can follow to make sure employees are fairly paid include: benchmarking job salaries against national or regional averages for the same positions, analysing your gender and ethnicity pay gaps as well as the diversity of your workforce across the organisational structure, implementing career progression and skill development strategies for everyone so that they can increase their career and earning potential, and investing in an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) that is rich in benefits and perks that employees can make use of.
Since 2020, the physical and mental health of people has never been more front of mind. Enhanced sick leave policies that also integrate the need for people to take time off for mental health reasons, EAPs that provide benefits such as private healthcare, access to online GPs, free sight and hearing tests, and general compassion and understanding for those with health issues or who are carers, are all gradually more standard and sought after requirements for employees.
And of the six pillars of workplace wellbeing, health is the one that many employees find they encounter the most troubles with when it comes to disputes with their employers. To tackle these, employers must make sure that they have a better understanding of different disabilities or health issues, what constitutes discrimination based on them and how they can prevent mental health problems or support those with them, especially if they are a result of workplace bullying, discrimination or harassment. How are they tackling the cause of the problems as well as the consequences?
Support is a vague term but an important one that can cover so many aspects of workplace wellbeing. Be that professional support as we mentioned to help employees learn and improve skills or further their career, or emotional or physical support in times of need (for example, financial difficulty, experiencing problematic behaviour, ill-health or simply giving any sort of advice). Support is something that not only senior leaders must be ready to provide but one that all employees can work on.
At Culture Shift, one of our core values is “unending support for our amazing people and clients”. We fulfil this by ensuring full support as listed above is given to our team members from the moment they onboard with us and throughout their employee lifecycle, and our clients are also given the best possible support to make sure their onboarding and continued experience with us is smooth and stress-free. Furthermore, we pride our anonymous reporting system on not only being a safe place for people to report things that happen to them or others but for it to also be a place for them to get support. This can be in the form of articles that help them understand what may have happened or where their organisation can run campaigns or training to deliver support in areas that they may find are in need of it, as well as making sure one-on-one support from case workers is available should they want it.
The bottom line is, if employees don’t feel supported, they are more likely to leave or suffer in silence, which could result in higher levels of absenteeism and presenteeism and lower levels of productivity.
Protection is another of the six pillars of workplace wellbeing that can be difficult to define. This protection can be in the form of the aforementioned protection of employees should their job or financial security be in trouble, protection of employees’ health and work-life balance, or protection from problematic behaviour such as bullying, discrimination and harassment. They should all perhaps be thought of when thinking of ways in which organisations can protect their employees, whilst also considering the differences in people’s needs that may need support and protection.
When it comes to ED&I and bullying, discrimination and harassment for example, employers have a duty to make sure they take reasonable steps to prevent them from happening, upholding the Equality Act 2010 in their policies and procedures so that those with protected characteristics – or indeed anyone – do not endure them.
6. Work-life balance
A good work-life balance can mean something completely different to each person, making this almost impossible for organisations to get right when they look to make adjustments in the workplace. However, sometimes simply giving people open options such as the choice to work completely remotely and discussing individual needs like certain days or times off for childcare is one of the best ways to try and cater to a range of different needs.
For some, work-life balance is one of the most important factors when choosing an employer or when it comes to decisions to stay in a workplace. Research shows that two-thirds of staff think work-life balance is more valuable than pay, employee benefits and job security. And while of course job security for some is important for the reasons we already mentioned, the current employment market actually tells us that for the first time there are more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK since records began. With so many more jobs available than those who are currently looking, you can understand why work-life balance can take precedent over job security.
This therefore means that offering a good work-life balance along with the other five pillars of workplace wellbeing is of the utmost importance.
How to promote wellbeing in the workplace
By having strategies in place that encompass all six pillars of workplace wellbeing and making sure people know about them – from job descriptions and in interviews all the way through to inducting new employees and reminding longer-standing employees of them, you are more likely to attract new and retain current talent. You can read more here about ways to promote wellbeing in the workplace.
How to improve workplace wellbeing
At Culture Shift we can help organisations improve workplace wellbeing with our anonymous reporting system, which through conversations with our partners and analytics provided by them, show the wellbeing of their staff and students and the constant desire to help them is a top priority. The system can help bridge the employee-employer trust gap, empower them to step forward and speak up about incidents they see or face, and find ways to rectify a poor workplace culture or maintain a positive and inclusive one.
To find out more about how our system can help towards improving employee and workplace wellbeing, contact one of our dedicated Culture Shifters who can help.