Insurance · 2 October 2015

Can staff wellbeing boost productivity?

It pays to invest in wellbeing to boost productivity
It pays to invest in wellbeing to boost productivity

Are your employees sick and tired or fit and happy? A healthy work culture and healthy staff help foster and encourage greater staff productivity and engagement, which are at the heart of business growth.

No business owner wants unhappy staff. Most know that employees make an important contribution to business success. Almost three-quarters of firms believe that employees are crucial to helping the business become “sustainably successful”, according to research from healthcare company Bupa.

Over half of those firms (57 per cent) believe that the health of employees is extremely important, or the single most important factor, affecting business productivity and in becoming “sustainably successful”.

As soon as your business starts growing, it changes. You may need to take on new employees that weren’t with you from the very beginning, when your business had a small, family-like atmosphere.

With business growth, management practices need to be in place to help encourage and maintain a healthy work culture with happy and healthy staff.  What is the culture like in your business? Do your employees share your vision and enjoy working together? What is the glue that sticks your employees to your business and to each other?

New employees can create a different dynamic to a business. There are more people to communicate to, to buy into your vision and the way things are done. Probably they will have new or different ideas to you and the rest of the team. Will they be able to contribute to decisions made and they way you work together?

Encourage mutual respect and collaboration. Employees are individuals and when they feel they have been shown genuine respect for what they do and their contribution to the business, this can be an effective motivator. We are all much more likely to go the extra mile if we feel we are shown respect.

It’s important to be consistent in your approach. Look at ways you can develop and maintain a motivated team that your employees feel committed to. Employee engagement helps boost productivity.

Open communication builds stronger working relationships. Speak to your staff. What is it that they like about your company culture? What elements would they want to remain and what is not so important to them? Are you open to their ideas and if so how will you filter the good and bad ones without offending?

Helpful and regular feedback is important to effective management, and should be given in a way that encourages rather than discourages. Not that all feedback will always be positive. Sometimes you will need to pick up on something that has, or will have a negative impact on, other staff or on your business, but if it is given in a constructive manner it should be taken in the spirit it is given.

Design incentives for all employees and not just senior staff. This demonstrates that you value all of your employees, no matter what level they work at. It’s normal for business owners to focus most on senior staff. But if you want all of your employees to be committed to the success of the business it won’t help maintain a healthy work culture and can create a “them and us” dynamic. This will increase business costs, but a carefully thought through and well-structured staff incentive scheme will help increase productivity.

There will be times when your employees will need more support from you than you might think. Management support in times of need will help foster employee goodwill and loyalty. This can take on different forms. Look at the office environment; is it clean, bright and inviting? Is your equipment up to date? Or do you sense there are times when your staff may need greater support on an emotional level?

The goal is to maintain a healthy work culture and the wellbeing of your staff. Consider taking out company healthcare insurance for your staff. Sometimes issues at work or at home can affect your employees and lead to absence from work, but a sympathetic ear may be all that’s needed.

How do you lead your staff? Do you lead by example? If there are some behaviours you want to encourage do you live them and breathe them? Do you give recognition and praise to your staff for a job well done? Recognition of achievements can be a powerful motivator.

Balancing the needs of your employees with the goals of your business will not always be easy. But with the buy-in of your staff and sound management practices you give your business the best chance you can of being ‘sustainably successful’.

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Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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