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Over the past 20 years, we have seen the evolution of workplace wellbeing grow from being health insurance and cycle to work schemes to something that is now on the top of the agenda for many businesses. With the increase in conversation around mental health and the almighty shift in the office landscape, it is hard to simply define workplace wellbeing as one or two initiatives.
In 2021, a study by the CIPD found that 52% of businesses are increasing their employee wellbeing support due to the effects of COVID-19, with mental health being the most common focus of wellbeing activity. But what is it that businesses need to consider when thinking about workplace wellbeing?
The CIPD has identified seven interrelated domains of employee wellbeing:
Although not immediately obvious as to how each of the above falls into workplace wellbeing, they each have a part to play and cater to induvial needs across the board. But how can each of these be woven into the physical workspace?
Given the amount of time we spend in our place of work, it is vital that these spaces support both our physical and mental wellbeing. allow for wellbeing activities such as yoga or gym classes - activities which help to release endorphins whilst encouraging socialisation. Businesses are also opting to create on site gyms with the changing facilities to match.
When it comes to mental health, first and foremost, having support systems in place such as Employee Assistance Programme’s (EAP) and mental health first aiders means that there is help available. For Peldon Rose, we recognised the barriers facing those in the construction industry, and alongside our EAP, we are partners with Mates in Mind to not widen the conversation around mental health in our industry and also provide training to our teams for spotting the sign of poor mental health.
Good work looks at the physical workspace and how teams can operate within the space, as well as the demands of individual roles and how best these can be managed. Wellbeing rooms and quite corners can offer privacy to those who may need time away from the central hub of the office. For MS Society, we incorporated zones that were based around neurodiversity, ranging from calming booth spaces to open plan breakout spaces.
An organisations values and principles are reflected within the design of their space and play an important role in the design process. The design goes so much further than simply including the brand colours. For those businesses such as ClientEarth, where sustainability is their raison d'etre, incorporating their values meant evaluating every product used for their sustainability credentials as well as using recycled products wherever possible. For mental health charity Mind, it mean putting their people’s wellbeing first within the space and creating inclusive spaces such as a mother’s room and library space for when time away from the central hub was needed.
The increase in has for some businesses, created a challenge for fostering workplace relationships. With different hybrid workplace models in place, the time we spend with our colleagues is key for building relationships. For the Gen Z’s who have started their careers from their own home and have struggled building relationships virtually, it is vital that businesses have workspaces in which they can learn and collaboratively work alongside their colleagues.
Equally, company culture can be cultivated in the workspace through cleverly designed breakout areas and social spaces. Providing dedicated areas for your teams to eat in one social space helps to encourage workplace friendships, and create a company culture that is influential to your people’s wellbeing. For Twinning’s, a dedicated social area in a U shape was designed to increase interaction and serve as a central point for engagement with colleagues, and where varieties of teas and other wellbeing beverages can be brewed and tasted.
For the younger generations who joined the workforces during the period of remote working, they clearly see the opportunity that the physical workplace has for learning and development. Having spaces that accommodate this, such as the seminar and exam spaces at Grant Thornton help to promote opportunity for career progression. For the creatives amongst us who thrive off collaborative working, having spaces that bring people together for brain storming and ‘yellow brain thinking’ are essential for improving wellbeing at work.
It can be hard at times to balance a healthy lifestyle during busier periods of work. Organisations can help to ease these types of pressure by making small changes such as offering healthy snacks alongside running clubs and lunch time yoga sessions. Making these available both during and after work hours, helps organisations to work around differing working schedules and cater to the majority. During Mental Health Awareness Week in 2022, we provided a calendar of events that worked for all across the business. We held breakfast sessions across our sites, nutrition and mindset groups throughout the working day and talks in the evening. In doing so, our teams could participate in the events that worked around their home and work life.
Until recently, financial wellbeing was often not as widely considered when discussing workplace wellbeing. However, with the financial pressures that many have faced over the past two years an opportunity has arisen for businesses to offer flexible benefit schemes, as well as employee assistance programmes and financial counselling.
There is no one size fits all approach to wellbeing. Every individuals need are different, which is why businesses must take the time to figure out what is that wellbeing means to their people. By focussing on your people’s wellbeing, businesses will be able to create a happier and more inclusive culture alongside environments in which their employees feel valued and heard.