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Why is wellbeing important?
As the conversations surrounding an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing become increasingly prevalent, it is becoming more important for organisations to ensure that they are fulfilling their duty of care towards employees by helping maintain healthy wellbeing.
Dr Lucy Rattrie, Chartered Psychologist, explains in our recent Future of Risk white paper that poor management of wellbeing can have adverse effects on your employees and your organisation. This is supported by Katrina Williams, Head of Travel at Crown Commercial Service, who claims that people with healthy mental wellbeing tend to contribute more at work.
Therefore, monitoring employee wellbeing should be a priority and viewed as less of an encumbrance and more of a driver for economic growth.
How are your employees affected?
In her research Dr Rattrie identifies travelling colleagues, often considered to be key assets to any company, as more prone to poor wellbeing due to the physical and mental stresses that arise from their lifestyle.
An increased workload, time spent away from loved ones and disruption to their routine are all consequences of frequent travel and can result in a variety of short-term effects on an employee’s health. Symptoms can include a weakened immune system, digestive issues and sleep disruption.
Suffering from any of these issues is going to hinder anyone’s ability to function adequately at work, leading to more sick days, lower concentration levels and eventually exhaustion.
Moreover, when the wellbeing of travellers is consistently neglected, which Dr Rattrie suggests is often the case, these problems can develop into more serious long-term issues ranging from obesity to heart disease and strokes.
Such severe impacts on an employee’s wellbeing will inevitably hinder their ability to work and in turn damage your company’s means to function at full capacity.
How is your business affected?
Chronic exposure to the above issues can be detrimental for your organisation, leading to more long-term absences, lower productivity and potentially a loss of talent.
With employees taking extended periods of time off work to try and fix personal issues with their physical and mental health, your workforce is going to be lighter and less able to manage their workload. This can lead to productivity levels dropping as workloads are spread thinly, increasing stress and lowering morale as teams are potentially asked to do more with less. This can be a toxic combination and one that won’t inspire too much loyalty in those being asked to pick up the slack.
This in turn could lead to a loss of talent, as travellers struggle to cope with the issues stemming from their on-the-go lifestyle and your remaining workforce becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their work-life balance.
Consequently, the organisation may need to find and hire replacements, an expensive and time-consuming process at the best of times. These resources could be much better invested elsewhere across the business, simply by maintaining an awareness of and managing the wellbeing of mobile employees.
The benefits of managing wellbeing
On the other hand, when employee wellbeing is managed correctly all of the issues raised previously can be avoided and enable your organisation to grow and thrive.
Katrina explains that people with healthier mental wellbeing are more likely to have better physical health, and are therefore less prone to take time off work due to sickness – something she has seen directly at the Crown Commercial Service.
Reducing both short and long-term absence can foster an increase in productivity and efficiency across the workforce. Then, as managing workload and meeting deadlines becomes more realistic, satisfaction and loyalty levels among your employees will rise, leading to a happier work environment and reduction in staff turnover.
Therefore, monitoring wellbeing effectively isn’t simply about ensuring your employees are healthy and happy, but is in fact a key business enabler, driving retention and attraction of talent, increased productivity for both travellers and non-mobile employees and, ultimately, growth across the organisation.
Expert tips for managing wellbeing effectively
So how do you manage wellbeing in such a way that it benefits your organisation? Our experts expand on this below.
For Dr Rattrie, it is paramount that organisations implement proactive assessment and monitoring systems to identify red flags and other issues before they develop into a fully-fledged problem.
Katrina further suggests varying frequency/duration/quality of travel, introducing virtual meeting technologies such as Google Hangouts and increasing employee input into travel policies are all methods that you can employ as part of your wellbeing strategy. Each of these suggestions can help you fulfil your duty of care and effectively manage the wellbeing of your travelling employees.