technology helping wellbeing featured

How technology can boost wellbeing at work

Cathy Isherwood at Cloud Geeni talks about why business leaders must invest in the right technology if they want to create a positive wellbeing culture that supports employees.

Most employers want to create an environment where staff are happy and productive.

But, with the number of people suffering from stress on the rise, all too often this isn’t happening. Instead, a culture of presenteeism and a lack of understanding over what employees need to flourish could be doing more harm than good.

In 2017/18, HSE statistics show that 15.4 million working days were lost due to mental ill health caused or aggravated by work. That represents 57% of the total number of lost working days.

So, in 2019, creating a culture of wellbeing is crucial for any business that wants to contribute to a positive working environment.

What does wellbeing mean in a workplace context?

What it doesn’t mean is simply investing in quirky benefits such as ping-pong tables, free gym memberships and pizza Fridays. Because, while such tactics might play a small part in making employment more fun, wellbeing is much more sophisticated than that.

Wellbeing covers your employees’ physical wellbeing and their emotional and psychological health. A positive wellbeing culture ensures that your people are confident in their roles, that they have a positive attitude towards their work, and a sense of purpose and job satisfaction.

When you take all this together, it’s easy to see how wellbeing can affect employee performance and the overall productivity of an organisation. Not least because, the healthier your employees are, the less likely it is that they will need time off work, and the more productive they will be when they are there.

The importance of creating a wellbeing culture

If you are serious about creating a wellbeing culture, this need needs to be a fundamental part of your business strategy - not a bolt-on. Despite this, less than half of organisations have a defined wellbeing strategy in place.[1]

So what can you do to address this issue?

Equal opportunities and career development

Improving job satisfaction and avenues for personal and career development is linked to employee wellbeing. Initiatives to help achieve this include:

  • Training, mentoring and coaching
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Personal development activities (e.g. team building and assertiveness training)
  • Recognising different religious beliefs
  • Providing equal opportunities.

For example, tech can be used to help achieve gender equality in the workplace. Because in 2019, women are still expected to take more responsibility for care at home, and, most employers still lack the flexibility needed when it comes to helping their staff to juggle family and careers. And, as long as this situation remains, the workforce will remain unequal.

However, the latest advancements in technology could help to support more flexible working arrangements. This would give workers control over when and where they work and remove some of the barriers towards gender equality at work.

Greater work/life balance

Presenteeism encourages people to be seen. Quite often this results in people being at their place of work for more hours than is required. Here again, technology can help with cloud-based hosted desktops, conference calls, video conferencing and instant messaging all used to keep the lines of communication open, regardless of where people are.

But a word of warning; just because an employee can be contacted wherever and whenever it doesn’t mean that they should be. To create a wellbeing culture, you should encourage your staff to switch off by:

  • Discouraging unnecessary weekend and out of hours work
  • Ensuring that they take all of their annual leave allowances
  • Operating a no-emails policy in the evenings or at weekends.

Reducing the stress

Employees don’t want to waste valuable hours because they don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs. Indeed, technology failure can lead to high levels of stress as workers struggle to get their work done in their agreed hours. And, this can have a domino effect as these workers go off sick and their colleagues have to take on even more responsibilities.

As such, investing in good quality tech so your employees can get more done in less time is crucial.

New working arrangements are also vital when it comes to reducing stress. This includes working from home and flexitime where staff set their own working hours. Of course, here again, you’ll need accessible technology that keeps the lines of communication open and gives everyone access to the information and tools they need.

There are, of course, a huge range of ways to improve wellbeing in the workplace. And what is right for you will depend on your particular business structure, market and employees. But, by deploying a strategic approach supported by the right tech, some easy wins could lead to significant improvements.

[1] 2018 annual report, ‘Employee Wellbeing Research 2018’, Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with Punter Southall Health & Protection.

 

Author: Cathy Isherwood from Cloud Geeni