The responsibilities involved in starting up a business are many and varied — it can be overwhelming and, at times, seemingly impossible. You may believe in your product or service but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of competition and a lot to contend with. For the first few years, it might feel like absolutely everything is about the bottom line.
How can your business thrive? What measures will help to generate more money and how can you make your company outshine the competition?
Startup founders are, naturally, focused on ROI — but there are certain, less obvious aspects to running a company, that may fly under the radar at this time. Ignoring them could really set you back in the long run. One of the factors you may not be addressing fully is that of employee wellbeing.
Recruiting the right employees is undoubtedly important, but it’s only one side of the coin – the flip side being retention. But how long will prize employees stick around if they feel their wellbeing isn’t being considered? With one quarter of the general public experiencing mental ill health at some point in our lives, you can expect 25% of your workforce to potentially experience a range of issues including depression, anxiety and severe levels of stress and burnout.
Being proactive about wellbeing, and starting as you mean to go on, will ensure that your employees will feel secure enough to open up when they are struggling. Let’s discuss employee wellbeing, why it’s important and how startups can look after employee wellbeing.
Why is Employee Wellbeing Important?
It might sound logical to you that a company who openly demonstrates its care and commitment to engagement and wellbeing is one that will thrive, but what do the statistics say? Let’s drill down into the reasons behind why employee wellbeing is so important, and why startups should make such an effort to create employee wellbeing initiatives from day one.
Improved Employee Health
Employee wellbeing programs can help employees improve their mental, physical, financial and emotional health. And one study has shown that healthy employees are 74% more likely to be satisfied with the job they are in, while being more resilient, engaged and productive. Which makes sense — an employee close to burnout isn’t likely to be performing at their best. What’s more, improved employee health in general can result in fewer sick days and unexplained leave.
Increased Productivity and Engagement
We touched on the fact that healthy employees are satisfied employees — they are also far more productive. When employees are healthy and happy, they are more likely to work harder and go that extra mile. And while this is great for the employee, it’s also a real bonus for the company at large, which will begin to foster a bright, positive work environment.
3. Improved Recruitment and Retention
Recruitment and retention continues to be a pressing issue for companies of all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, the odds are you are finding it hard to find the right people and keep hold of them for long periods of time. Employee wellbeing programs can help here. If you demonstrate to your employees that you are sensitive to their needs and requirements, that you place a focus on engagement and morale, then employees are going to feel safer and more secure at your company, which will encourage them to stick around. What’s more, you will develop a reputation of being a people-first company, which will certainly help your future recruitment efforts.
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6 Ways Startups Can Promote Employee Wellbeing
Understanding the importance of employee wellbeing is one thing, but how can you put it into practice, particularly when money is a very real issue? Wellbeing initiatives needn’t be expensive – here are our top tips for incorporating wellbeing initiatives from day one.
1. Develop a wellbeing program
Startups should begin by implementing a wellbeing program that includes initiatives which promote employee health and wellbeing, including regular health check-ups, exercise classes (a lot of companies these days like to incorporate yoga as an exercise which also results in calmer minds) and healthy eating options in the staff room. Wellbeing program can also provide resources for employees to improve their mental health, such as access to therapy.
2. Carry Out Employee Surveys
It’s recommended that you introduce and implement regular employee wellbeing surveys within your organization, to demonstrate to your workforce that wellbeing is a priority. This will show your employees that wellbeing isn’t simply a box-ticking exercise – it’s something you take seriously. Wellbeing surveys can be tailored to your organization, and they will be formulated to get to the heart of how employees are feeling, how engaged they are with their work and how motivated they are, while highlighting risk factors. Such surveys will also give you data to track, which will help you track employee wellbeing over time.
3. Encourage Exercise
Exercise can get our feel-good hormones flowing, which is a great starting point to improving wellbeing. More established companies often buy gym memberships for their employees, but startups who want to start smaller can focus efforts at the office by offering group fitness classes, which have the added benefit of offering the opportunity for team bonding. It’s worth getting creative and seeing what works for your business — some companies do walking meetings, while other businesses offer some time off for physical activity.
4. Offer Healthy Snacks and Meals
Our food is our fuel, so it is a great basic building block when it comes to improving wellbeing at work. If you have a staff room, consider offering healthy snacks, including fruit, veg and nuts. You can also occasionally order in lunches comprising of salads and sandwiches.
5. Encourage Work-Life Balance
All employers are worried about Quiet Quitting at the moment, but this shouldn’t be mistaken for a healthy work-life balance! Employees who are always first-in-last-out might be burning the candles at both ends, which is a recipe for burnout. Encourage employees not to overwork and make sure they take their annual leave days. Managers should lead by example and refrain from excessive hours – employees will inevitably mirror your behavior, so it’s best to demonstrate a healthy attitude to work.
6. Provide Mental Health Support
Many companies these days offer free mental health support to their employees to ensure they have someone to speak to when they feel overwhelmed. If an employee is struggling, they may feel unsure about speaking to their direct manager for a number of reasons, so it’s always best to have a neutral third-party, and one who is trained to offer support and guidance, who can help employees manage their thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.
Employee wellbeing initiatives don’t need to be lavish or expensive — they can begin small, with meaningful gestures, and grow over time. What’s important is that they start from day one, to show employees that wellbeing is, and always has been, a focus. Putting it off might result in it being forgotten altogether. When wellbeing is factored in from the start, it will ensure your business is strong and resilient for years to come.