September 12th, 2019 By Natalie Ackerman
Employee engagement and wellbeing are front and center in the business world. And rightfully so. With research showing that 61% of employees are burned out on the job and 31% reporting extremely high levels of stress at work, all companies should be focused on the overall health of their biggest asset – their employees.1
As the lead of Jack’s global diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, I care deeply about the overall health of our employees. You hear people talk about “work-life balance”, but the boundaries are blurring. The reality is, we as leaders of an organization need to accommodate whatever is most important to each employee in his or her life at a given time: be it work, family, professional or personal growth. And this changes throughout the course of one’s career. It’s impossible to compartmentalize the different parts of our lives, and we’d be kidding ourselves to think that is possible. If you are stressed at home, you will bring that stress to work, and vice versa. Simply put, employee wellbeing is holistic wellbeing – looking at the whole of a person. This means physically, mentally and emotionally.
While June marked National Employee Wellness month, it doesn’t mean we only focus on employee wellness one month out of the year. If we did, we’d be doing a disservice to each and every one of our employees and to our company’s bottom line. [Disengaged employees can cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year.2] Being supportive of employee wellness programs is also linked to higher company recommendations, which helps to attract new talent as well as retain existing.1
At Jack Morton, employee wellbeing is a top priority, with established programs to address the various elements of wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional and social. For example:
- Globally, Jack is an active participant in the Virgin Pulse Global Corporate Challenge, which encourages employees to take part in a team-based 100-day challenge, to keep track of their fitness, sleep and eating habits. This year, we had a huge turnout of teams across the world take part in the wellbeing challenge with the hopes of combating stress and promoting an overall healthy lifestyle.
- Jack’s HQ in Boston has a “Jack Be Well” committee, led by a member of our marketing team who’s also a certified trainer and fitness instructor. Each month, she sends an email to the office with healthy tips and reminders to “be well” – even offering up local workouts to take part in as a group.
Where we work every day is also super important. We take pride in creating safe, comfortable environments for our employees to boost productivity and overall wellbeing. That’s why, wherever we can, offices are designed to ensure maximal sustainability, natural light penetration, and exceptional air quality. I am fascinated about workplace design and influenced by companies like Steelcase that advocate designing the workplace so that employees can choose the environment they work best in3 – whether that’s a quiet space, a standing desk, a cubicle, or even outside as our client L.L.Bean continues to promote.
In addition to promoting an active lifestyle and creating a comfortable working environment, the emotional and mental wellbeing of our employees is also very important to us. We offer a variety of educational programs across our offices including onsite yoga classes and meditation trucks. For Mental Health Awareness Month, our Balance Your Inner Orange program in Australia provides a monthly calendar of wellness events, time-off vouchers, group meditation and gratitude moments. In London, we have Mental Health Champions, which are designated work colleagues available to provide early intervention to fellow employees. Mental Health Champions offer support through non-judgmental listening and conversation. They encourage self-help strategies and accessing appropriate professional support including our Employee Assistance Program. Additionally, each of our offices provides flexible hours and remote working opportunities to give employees the time and space to do what they need to do.
Looking for ways to support employee wellness in your organization? Here are a few tips:
1. Walk the talk
Too often, companies say they value employees but their actions don’t follow suit. We’ve hired adults so let’s treat them like adults and don’t challenge and question their every turn. That type of behavior not only creates a toxic culture, but when you treat adults like children, their behavior reflects the same.Trust your employees. In turn, they will feel the respect they deserve which translates to a positive company culture.
2. Educate beyond HR and Management
Start educating your employees on why their wellbeing is important.. Generally, workshops on employee wellness are targeted at HR and management teams, but this needs to extend beyond key decision makers. When employees understand the value of their wellbeing, they benefit. So does the company, the brand and the business.
3. Reinforce and reiterate
It’s easy for companies to say something once and not follow through. Employee wellness needs to be constantly reinforced and reiterated until it becomes part of the company’s culture. Studies have shown that in order for an action to become a habit, the action needs to be reinforced for 66 days. What does this tell you? The more you do it, the more it becomes a part of your life. The same rule applies with company culture.
4. Bring in experts
Management does not need to be an expert in this topic. Don’t hesitate to bring someone in who IS an expert. I find that key practitioners are more than happy when companies bring them in to speak about a topic. These may include TEDx speakers, local community experts, or certified medical professionals.
Bottom line – there is no shortcut for creating and maintaining employee wellbeing. It takes commitment and an investment of time and resources. But I can assure you the payoff of productivity, profitability and elevated morale is worth every minute and every dollar.
1 Forbes. (2019, January 16). 10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness. Retrieved on August 26, 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/#95259dc22a03
2 HR Dive. (2017, March 8). Study: Disengaged employees can cost companies up to $550B a year. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-disengaged-employees-can-cost-companies-up-to-550b-a-year/437606/
3 Strategy + Business. (2019, August 21). Creating a Culture of Learning. Retrieved September 10, 2019 from https://www.strategy-business.com/article/Creating-a-culture-of-learning?gko=fa39c&utm_source=itw&utm_medium=itw20190822&utm_campaign=resp