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Beginning your Wellbeing Journey

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If you're still not convinced of the necessity of a wellbeing programme, let the figures speak for themselves... the Centre for Mental Health estimates that mental health problems in the UK cost £1,300 for every employee and that sickness absence due to mental ill health costs the UK economy more than £8bn per year.

You may be motivated to save your business money, or your motives may come from a more philanthropic point of view. Whatever the case, many employers are looking for guidance as to what they can do to care for the wellbeing and mental health of their employees.

The options are plentiful and vary in size and in scope. It will take time and consideration to design the ideal programme to suit your business and your staff.

Listen.  If you want to help your staff, it's vital that you listen to them and understand their needs. Find out what they think you're already doing well and what you can do better.

Staff surveys range from annual, in-depth questionnaires to short "pulse" surveys consisting of few questions as regularly as weekly.

Use the information to inform your policy and programme choices and be sure to monitor any variances in responses as you make changes in your company.

Plan.  There are innumerable initiatives that you can consider, depending on the responses from your surveys; assistance with financial wellbeing such as access to advisors, lunch-break exercise classes, availability of fresh fruit, access to counselling services, discounted gym memberships, mental first-aid training…  the list goes on.

The information from your staff surveys is invaluable in planning the right programme to suit the needs of your company.

What do you want to achieve? What are the outcomes that you are looking for?... reduction of absenteeism?...improvement in morale or eNPS?

It can be useful to get a cross-section of staff involved in the planning stage to provide further insights and avoid board-level bias. 

Remember that you are intending to measure the success of the initiatives that you introduce and consider how you might stage initiatives in order to make measurement more meaningful.

Launch. It is important to be as transparent as possible with your staff.  Don’t try to plaster over the cracks.  Share the findings with your team and tell them what you intend to do to make improvements. 

As with most change, some staff will need reassurance that there aren’t going to be any negative impacts on them or their work.  Despite this being about improving wellbeing, there are those who will still need convincing that you have their interests at heart.  Be clear and do what you say you’re going to.

Measure. Having given your initiatives enough time to make a potential impact, it’s time to gather information once again and get feedback from your staff that you can compare with that taken before the initiatives were put in place.  If you used one big survey, run it again; if you are using pulse surveys, what outcome or trends do they show. How do they compare?  What do your HR metrics look like now compared with six/twelve months ago?  Can you see an improvement in absences, staff turnover, lateness?  What are people saying to you informally?

Have you achieved your goals? If you have planned well, chances are that you will see improvements. If not, consider if you initially asked the right questions and consider different ways of collecting data. Whatever the case, don't get complacent. Needs change but you never need to stop listening to your staff.