How Well-Being and Wellness Efforts Impact Performance Management

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Note: This post is a guest blog post from our friends at Clear Review.

Employee health, whether it be physical, emotional or mental, should be a concern for all employers. Without our workforce, our companies have no future, so it’s important to take care of, encourage, and provide for your dedicated employees. Unfortunately, not all companies are taking note, as in the US alone, $225 billion is lost each year in productivity due to employee health problems.

Before we can put appropriate programs into place and adapt our performance management systems to create healthier company cultures, we must first understand the difference between well-being and wellness, and why both are so essential to strong performance.

As we spend so much time at work, employers can have a serious influence on an individual’s sense of well-being, and it all depends on how their company is run. Well-being encompasses your self-esteem, your emotions, your relationships, your stress levels, and your sense of stability. Wellness, however, is focused more on improving how your body works

Below, we’ll explore how both wellness and well-being directly impact employee performance in a number of ways, and how to improve employee wellness and well-being.

Wellness and well-being efforts can improve productivity levels

Well-being programs are key to a productive, resilient workforce. A confident, stress-free employee is likely to be more focused and enthusiastic than an employee who is constantly in a state of burnout and uneasy at work. In fact, when employees suffer from low levels of well-being, they lose more than a quarter of their potential productivity.

According to the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), more than 90% of business leaders claim that encouraging wellness can impact productivity. In fact, a recent study revealed that the productivity of the average worker increased by more than 5% after participating in a wellness program, resulting in an additional day’s worth of work per month, per employee.

A focus on employee well-being and wellness can reduce employee turnover

Successful wellness and well-being programs are designed to reduce staff turnover rates — and such efforts usually work out, as employees experience reduced stress and increased morale. They feel less pressure, they’re more satisfied with their work, and, as a result, they don’t feel the urge to jump ship as soon as another opportunity presents itself. Put simply, healthy employees stay with your company. According to one source, software firm SAS Institute experiences a voluntary turnover rate of only 4%, due in large part to its employee wellness program. Furthermore, the Baltimore tourism enterprise was able to reduce its voluntary turnover rate from 29% in 2005 to just 9% in 2009, after introducing a wellness program.

Employee well-being efforts result in increased profitability

Many companies don’t have an employee wellness or well-being plan in place as they believe they won’t be financially viable. However, as shown in Dr. Noelle Nelson’s book Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, we can see that this isn’t true. If you take your employee’s interests to heart and ensure they are mentally and physically healthy, they will take their company’s interests to heart in turn, which means they will be more productive and more valuable to the business’ bottom line. One particular study shows that of employees with high levels of well-being, two thirds of them were reported to be consistently be putting in extra effort at work.

A focus on employee well-being results in increased creativity and innovation

While some employees enjoy — and thrive — under a certain amount of pressure, constant stress and burnout negatively impact creativity and innovation, for obvious reasons. When well-being is at an all-time low, employees are going to be distracted, disengaged, and disinclined to work. A report from the World Economic Forum backs up this theory, showing that organizations who promote well-being are much more likely to see improvements in employee creativity.

Employees with heightened well-being experience are much more engaged

Well-being is often associated with another important performance management concept: employee engagement. Both concepts rely on positivity, enthusiasm, and dedication. There is a clear overlap and we can logically deduce that when a company takes measures to ensure that employee well-being is respected and encouraged, employees will be in a better frame of mind and, therefore, more likely to be engaged with their work.

A 2012 CIPD research paper showed that employee well-being and employee engagement are inextricably linked, and that in order to maintain engagement and encourage motivation in the long term, a program needs to be put in place that promotes well-being and reduces stress.

How can a company cater to employee well-being and wellness?

If you're looking to promote workplace wellness, your company can take part in activities such as health education, weight management programs, smoking cessation-programs, and screenings for high blood pressure, which will give an indication as to whether or not an employee is experiencing significant stress. Other strategies include offering healthy food at work, encouraging employees to leave their desks and go outside during lunch, and stamping down on excessive hours, which can be extremely detrimental to health.

In terms of employee well-being, there are various workplace elements that have an impact, from job demands to opportunity for autonomy, supportive managerial supervision, career outlook, role variety, and clear workplace processes. HR has a direct influence over all of these factors, and each can be improved upon over time.

Companies can begin by switching from annual appraisals to continuous performance management: a system which necessitates regular performance discussions. Companies often decide to incorporate monthly check-ins, which allows manager and employee to develop a more trusting, open relationship. Such familiarity will increase the likelihood that an employee will feel able to discuss demands and goals they find unreasonable. During this time, manager and employee can also discuss future career aspirations and what steps can be put in place to put them on the right track.

Companies have also been experimenting with autonomy and flexibility, whether it be allowing employees to determine their own SMART objectives or their own hours. Increasingly, flexible working is becoming more commonplace, more people are telecommuting, and remote workers are proving to be happier and more productive than office workers.

The most important element is communication. Find out what your employees want, what motivates them, and what makes them happy while at the office. Make adjustments as required and remember that these individuals are what makes your company what it is. Disregarding employee health will end up costing you in high turnover, but taking the time to implement positive changes will make your workforce happier, more engaged, and more productive.

Laura Plato