From enhancing organizational efficiency, to stimulating staff morale, the importance of a workplace wellbeing policy should not be undermined. Ever changing corporate demands combined with limited time to address them has led to an unprecedented rise in work-related stress, with a notable impact on physical and psychological wellbeing. Without sufficient levels of support, the pressures placed on staff can quickly exceed their perceived capacity to cope, leading to rising rates of absenteeism until health is restored.
With the above in mind, we explore the importance of adopting a wellbeing policy in the workplace, including what it is, what it offers, and how to create one from scratch that will satisfy all stakeholders simultaneously.
What is a workplace wellbeing policy?
A workplace wellbeing policy sets out a specific set of guidelines that demonstrate the company's commitment to staff wellbeing, and the subsequent actions it intends to take to promote healthful habits and behaviors. Prior to adoption, the policy must be unanimously agreed on by management, with further consultation with staff to ensure it meets their physical and emotional needs. Although policies differ between organizations, they tend to feature several, tangible features, such as:
- A clear mission statement detailing the organization`s dedication to enhancing the wellbeing of employees
- Specific, measurable objectives for improvement
- The specific accountabilities of management for ensuring these deliverables are achieved
For successful implementation, it’s vital to actively engage employees in promoting a healthy, workplace environment, with sufficient information on small, realistic changes that can be made on a daily basis. The policy should also seek to address current access to appropriate resources that can assist with this aim, and whether the prevailing, organizational culture is helpful to achieving the intended objectives.
After implementation, the policy should be regularly reviewed by management, and adapted in accordance with feedback from staff, so that it remains responsive to changing needs. To determine the efficiency of the policy, improvements detailed in the document should also be assigned a specific time frame for measuring progress, and assessing the success of their uptake among staff. Following review, any changes deemed necessary by management should be communicated to all the relevant parties involved.
Why do you need a workplace wellbeing policy?
A wellbeing policy is a vital requirement for safeguarding employee health and wellbeing. For staff today, workplace demands, combined with time constraints and added pressure, have conspired to create unprecedented levels of stress that directly impact wellbeing, and overall levels of morale. By implementing a wellbeing policy at work, organizations can create supportive, workplace cultures that encourage the uptake of healthy initiatives, while providing sufficient information and resources aimed at reducing absenteeism through effective modes of prevention.
Additionally, an effective wellbeing policy also impact acquisition and rates of retention; for those marginalized because of their mental health, an employer whose policies promote inclusion will be well received. By investing in health and wellness initiatives, both employee and employer mutually benefit; the support enables staff to actively engage with their work, which has a notable impact on overall business efficiency. Equally, for those overwhelmed by the remit of their role, a workplace wellbeing policy can help them to mitigate the effects of stress by accessing relevant resources.
To further support its efforts, a company should also consider offering a package of health-related benefits as part of its terms of service, such as free gym memberships, and access to healthy snacks, such as fruit.
How to write a workplace wellbeing policy
The workplace wellbeing policy should capture a company's commitment to employee wellbeing, and the initiatives it intends to implement to create a healthy, corporate environment. For small scale operations, a concise overview of wellbeing objectives should suffice. However, for larger multi-nationals, a comprehensive policy is required, indicating the organizational mission, the strategies it intends to adopt, and the outcomes it aims to achieve as a result of the chosen initiatives. Alongside aims and objectives, a workplace wellbeing policy should also indicate the responsibilities of each department for promoting health and wellbeing, with a specific outline of expectations that relates to the remit of their role.
Whilst writing a wellbeing policy, it is imperative for employees to consider how current, workplace conditions may be impacting physical and psychological health. This can include issues such as mental health advocacy, access to impartial support, as well as less obvious aspects such as exposure to secondhand smoke.
Although the policy should be customized to company needs, it should also be created in consultation with staff to ensure that the proposed plans address the concerns of the workforce. Equally, it’s also crucial to ensure all stakeholders are briefed on the proposal, with specific, measurable outcomes to assess its success. The policy should also take a long-term approach to improving wellbeing, detailing a range of ideas and initiatives that can be incorporated into existing routines.
After writing the policy, feedback from staff should be actively encouraged, either through an internal, intranet system, or using anonymous questionnaires.
A comprehensive understanding of organizational culture, and the strategies that can be adopted to improve it, is vital for employee wellbeing. A progressive workplace that accounts for the health of its staff, and invests in corresponding initiatives for improvement will provide benefits for both employees and employer. In this respect, a clear workplace wellbeing policy that sets out a solid statement of intent, with actions that describe its commitment to wellbeing will create an inclusive environment that promotes healthy behaviors, and ensures the effects of workplace stress and incessant demands are alleviated through accessible support.
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