Wellbeing strengthens employee engagement

22 August 2021 | Opinion

Windhoek • Agnes Yeboah

Change is constant in life, and it exempts no systems or people. The onslaught of Covid-19 has altered how the world experiences change. It has accelerated the rate of change in technology, which impacts workplace functions and practices.

Since disruption is inevitable, organisations approach their respective operational processes, people, and technological resources differently. Organisations prepared for tragic events can position themselves to transform these adverse events into opportunities for their customers and employees. For instance, Deloitte’s 2021 Human Capital Trends Report states that integrating wellbeing in the workplace strengthens employee engagement. It also reduces the adverse mental health outcomes associated with a lack of wellbeing.

Wellbeing, also known as wellness, refers to the quality of life relative to an individual and is negative or positive. Integrated wellbeing consists of the various dimensions that contribute to an individual's life quality, resulting in comfortability, good health, and happiness. People experience wellbeing socially, physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually. Wellbeing is achievable when the mind, body, and a basic feeling of purpose render positive functioning. These feelings of positivity and satisfaction increase the individual's quality of life.

Workplace positive and negative wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing has become relevant as the costs associated with not addressing the issue, continue to rise. Lack of positive wellbeing presents itself in various forms, such as low employee motivation, low output and performance, and increased requests for mental health services.

Negative wellbeing impacts direct costs, which are tied to the production of specific goods or services. The impact includes increased absenteeism, negligent behaviour resulting in non-adherence to standard operating procedures, higher incidents of industrial relation matters, disciplinary action, and higher attrition rates. Therefore, integrating wellbeing is key to building resilience in the workforce and critical to safeguarding economic activities.

A tangible skill

According to the World Economic Forum, employers should view wellbeing as a tangible skill, a measurable business input. Once organisations consider wellbeing a skill, they can streamline it into actionable elements that they can incorporate into employees' lives. Factors such as quality sleep, rest, and good nutrition, a sense of belonging, spiritual connectedness, and exercise are categorised as regular learnable actions and rateable behaviours.

Employers need to value wellbeing as a skill like any other essential area of expertise. They should embed the use of the craft through modelling wellbeing, prioritising it for their teams, and creating safe spaces for open dialogue on the subject. Examples of what some organisations have implemented include:

•Asking how team members are doing before a meeting begins.

•Making self-help tools easily accessible and access to professional counselling on onsite clinics.

•Equipping the workforce on how to have wellbeing conversations to normalise mental health.

•Conducting regular temperature test surveys to measure wellbeing.

•Offering tangible support in the form of care packages where appropriate and applicable.

Similarly, employees need to be accountable for their wellbeing and use the necessary resources provided by their employers. Employee wellbeing will prove unsuccessful if provision is made and employees do not apply and use the tools and platforms. Essentially, wellbeing begins with the individual.

The technological transformation of the fourth industrial revolution and the Covid-19 pandemic continue to apply pressure and disrupt how organisations respond to internal and external factors. Leveraging on the rapid changes demands that employers prioritise employee wellbeing. It will allow them to build their employees' wellbeing skills to ensure resilience - as we navigate the challenges in the face of uncertainty.

*Agnes Yeboah is Bank Windhoek’s Human Resources Business Partner.

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