International Happiness at Work Week – The importance of health and well being benefits for employees

More and more small business owners are making wellbeing a priority within their businesses. Whether that’s to retain their current team members, to make the workplace a more positive place or to help attract new talent to join the company. The businesses who don’t place an importance on the health and wellbeing of their team could find themselves at a disadvantage, particularly if key members of the team leave the business as a result.

Speaking in The AXA Growth Leaders ReportCharlie Walker, founder of Harmonic Finance, said:

From my own experience of running hundreds of recruitment processes, the businesses that don’t invest in health and wellbeing end up with unproductive staff. We see it time and again, with people leaving organisations because of burnout; and businesses having to bring inexpensive interim consultants to cover things that haven’t been delivered. When you track it back, this tends to happen in businesses that don’t have any health benefits, don’t offer flexible hours, or where leaders are inflexible.” 

What wellbeing benefits do employees want?

Recent research conducted on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare found that, when it comes to benefits packages, employees placed value on the incentives that may be more beneficial to their long term health and wellbeing, including private medical insurance, with 23% of employees highlighting that this is the most important benefit to them. The opportunities to flex working hours and to be able to work from home were also sought after, with 29% and 27% of the vote, respectively1.

When working out the best benefits package for your team, it’s important to ask them which benefits they would find the most valuable. It can be easy to implement wellbeing strategies that may be what you think your employees want rather than what they may actually want or need. For example, some people may enjoy having access to breakout areas with beanbags and pool tables, whereas others may value the opportunity to change their working hours in order to pick their children up from school. You may not be able to implement all of the health and wellbeing benefits that your team identify as being important, but you might find some common themes within their responses that can help to steer your overall health and wellbeing strategy.

Place value on a positive work-life balance

A positive work-life balance is often cited as one of the main goals for both SME business owners and employees alike. In our recent survey of SME employees, when asked about their happiness at work, 56% said that having a work-life balance would make them the most happy1.

So how can business owners and managers help their team to establish a more positive work-life balance?

I discourage weekend work. This includes stopping the team from sending emails to each other over the weekend when it can wait until Monday. Write the email if you need to but put a delay on the send.” Jonathan Hall, founder of Cranberry Panda.

This strategy is something that other SME owners may benefit from implementing as our research found that 27% of employees send or receive emails from colleagues outside of working hours1. 19% of respondents also said that the amount of emails they receive has a negative impact on their wellbeing1.

Look after your own health and wellbeing

As the owner of a small business, it can often be easy to forget about the importance of your own health and wellbeing, particularly when you’re going through an especially busy time or going through a period of change. However, employees often look to the business owner and managers when it comes to modelling positive work-life balance behaviours. Prioritising and looking after your own health and wellbeing can therefore help to inspire the rest of your team to follow suit.

Lead by example. Take time for yourself, and communicate that with your team. They’ll respect you more for it.” Derek Moore, founder of Coffee & TV.

A positive work-life balance could have a number of benefits for both your work life and your personal life. For example, allowing yourself to have a good amount of time to switch off from work could mean that you return to work feeling much more focused and energised, which could help to improve your productivity.

“As tempting as it is to keep working late at night, going over things you’re worried about, you end up with less focus and energy when you get to work. By relaxing fully when you’re not working, you recharge and get more done when you’re in.” Alex Malcolm, founder of Jacada Travel.