Insights

Wellbeing in the digital age: how to create a healthy organisation where employees feel good at work

One-fifth of Belgian workers report feeling unhappy at work. A quarter expect to be signed off due to stress in the next three years. And most employees lay the blame – and the responsibility for doing something about it – firmly at their employer’s door. So what can you do, as an organisation, to stop things from reaching this point? What preventive measures can you take? How can you keep your workforce healthy, happy and motivated?

In a guest appearance on Zigzag HR’s Brainpickings XL podcast, our General Manager Ellen De Vleeschouwer shared her tips for maintaining a healthy organisation. Below you’ll find the five key takeaways from the interview!

 

1. Be a caring employer

It’s never been more important for employers to care about their people – to show a more human side and to consider their employees’ wellbeing. This observation is even backed by research: we teamed up with Ipsos to conduct a survey of 1,000 employees, who were asked how happy and healthy they felt at work and how they rated their chances of going on long-term sick leave. The findings were conclusive: 42% of respondents who viewed their employer as “business focused” said they expected to be signed off work due to stress in the near future.

The COVID-19 crisis has only made matters worse, with the shift to remote work depriving employees of much-needed contact with their colleagues and managers. The upshot is that, as an employer, you need to do more than run in-person wellbeing initiatives like workshops, team-building exercises and personal coaching sessions. You have to show your employees that you really care about them, and give them meaningful opportunities to ask questions and raise concerns, even when they’re working from home. Only then will they view you as a caring employer – one that treats them not just as employees, but also as people.

 

2. Take a holistic approach to wellbeing

It goes without saying that it takes more than the occasional lunchtime yoga class to maintain a healthy, happy workforce. So when you’re reviewing your wellbeing initiatives, it’s important to think holistically.

The fundamental question is this: what does “wellbeing” actually mean, in broad terms? At AG Health Partner, we worked with Cédric Velghe from The VIGOR Unit, a Ghent University spin-off, to really nail down what the term means. According to our research, wellbeing relates to how well an employee feels and performs at work – a definition that encompasses physical, mental and social aspects. With this in mind, it makes sense to take a step-by-step approach. And that’s precisely what we do with our customers: working to 12-month time scales and focusing on a different aspect of wellbeing – body, concentration, connections and mindset – in each quarter. We also bring in insights from external partners who, like us, take an evidence-based approach.

 

3. Invest in surveys and reporting

This focus on science and evidence leads us neatly on to Ellen’s third tip, which is to invest in surveys and reporting. Building an effective wellbeing policy that keeps people happy and healthy at work takes time and effort: from meticulously planned screening tests through to awareness and training initiatives. And all of these measures need to be tailored to the individual. After all, a good wellbeing policy should deliver value for employees, helping them to understand what their needs are and where to focus their efforts. That’s where My Health Partner comes into play. It’s our digital wellbeing platform where employees can assess their health with a personal report based on short questionnaires and qualitative metrics. Depending on their score, we then refer them to sources of help and other useful resources, ranging from e-learning courses, articles and webinars, to individual and group sessions and programmes.

Ultimately, wellbeing is very much a matter of trial and error. At AG Health Partner, our focus is on persevering and helping you adjust your approach wherever necessary. Some initiatives may fall by the wayside. But what really matters is to keep hammering home the core message: a healthy body makes for a healthy mind.
 

4. One-size-fits-all solutions don’t work

Some companies find it easier to develop an effective wellbeing policy than others. And that’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Office staff have markedly different needs than, say, blue-collar workers on the factory floor or logistics operatives who spend their whole day on the move.

 

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Start by asking yourself how you’re going to connect with your employees – or with each group of workers if you have more than one. How will you approach the issue? Who will spearhead the initiative? Be methodical about it: dig into lifestyle statistics and review BMI figures for example. And don’t make assumptions about things like digital literacy. In other words, leave your preconceptions at the door and dare stepping out of your comfort zone by cheking out what is actually happening ‘on the field’.

 

5. Approach the issue strategically and think ahead

Short-term initiatives are all well and good, but Ellen advocates a longer-term approach. A well thought-out wellbeing policy has a huge impact on employees. So your HR department should have no qualms about making wellbeing an integral part of its strategy. Start thinking now about how you want to manage the situation tomorrow. At AG Health Partner, we’re help to help you plan ahead. Our aim is to lighten the load for your HR people and your employees, freeing up time and space to focus on day-to-day prevention and wellbeing. For some organisations – and for some HR departments – the red tape and practical difficulties can be daunting. Which is why we’re never more than a click or a call away, with solutions that meet every need.

Eager to learn more about being a caring employer and investing in a long-term wellbeing policy? Watch the full video of the podcast here (in Dutch)!