Sunday, June 16, 2024

Raihane Hassaine: How to Bring Wellness Into the Workplace

As a teenager, Raihane Hassaine took a keen interest in health and fitness and went on to study nutrition at university, where she found her passion. In her role as a nutrition and wellness specialist, Raihane Hassaine advises both individuals and corporate clients, helping people to make healthy lifestyle choices and improve their overall health and fitness, and businesses to protect the health and wellbeing of staff.

This article will look at wellness in the workplace and why it is so important for employers to adopt a proactive approach towards worker wellbeing, in doing so boosting productivity, improving staff retention and ultimately helping employees to live happier, longer lives.

As modern workplaces continue to evolve, employers have a multitude of different options open to them in terms of bringing wellness into the workplace. These include:

  • Exercise classes, providing an outlet for workplace stress and frustrations, encouraging colleagues to participate in physical activities such as yoga or Pilates as a way of improving mental wellness
  • Massages, with companies like Urban Massage building a whole industry around providing at-work massages, helping employees to not only relieve stress but also boost productivity
  • Healthy snacks, using fruit delivery companies across London and other UK cities to encourage healthy eating, helping to improve employee concentration and overall wellbeing
  • Mental health initiatives, which can work wonders in terms of promoting staff loyalty and enhancing brand reputation, showing the world that the company is invested in its workforce
  • Comfortable work environments, incorporating adequate light, functional spaces and technology, and comfortable seats and desks to boost productivity and promote workplace wellness
  • Social events, encouraging friendship between colleagues and promoting emotional wellness by helping to improve employee relations and engagement
  • Art and design, promoting a sense of pride in the organization among employees by providing an uplifting, aesthetically pleasing work environment
  • Financial incentives to motivate and reward employees, showing them that their contribution is valued
  • Flexible working hours, which have been proven to have a huge positive impact on workplace wellness, be it the ability to work from home one day per month or allowing employees complete autonomy over where they wish to be based
  • Pet-friendly spaces, which not only have a positive impact on wellness but can also be an excellent tool in branding and talent recruitment, culminating in a happier, less stressed, more productive work environment

In May 2023, Co-op unveiled plans to provide its 57,000 staff with extended compassionate leave, meaning that employees experiencing the serious illness or death of someone close to them were entitled to double the amount of paid time off.

In April 2023, a Portsmouth business park joined forces with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, making a range of ecological and wildlife changes in the local environment to support employee wellbeing while also promoting sustainability. These changes included installing insect habitats to create a peaceful space for staff to relax in during the working day.

According to research from the Executive Development Network, some 83% of employees favour working for an organisation that demonstrates a ‘progressive company culture’. In addition, the research also revealed that 45% of respondents agreed that first aid for mental health would enhance a workplace benefits package.

Encouragingly, accordingly to the Executive Development Network’s research, 60% of employers said they would consider offering workforce mental health training as part of their workforce first aid training package. In addition, 62% of employers also expressed an interest in focussed training in order to help to help employees achieve a positive work-life balance.

Meanwhile, a 2022 study by Nuffield Health suggested that one in three UK adults experienced a decline in their mental health over the course of the last year. Employers have a responsibility to not only protect the physical health of their workers but also their mental health and wellbeing too.

Nuffield Health suggested that six workplace wellbeing trends would feature prominently throughout 2023 as employers took steps to create relevant and effective wellbeing offerings, namely:

  1. Managing musculoskeletal health, in particular dealing with the physical impact of unergonomic home offices
  2. Addressing the new work-life balance, with the line between work and home life becoming increasingly blurred due to the increase of remote working
  3. Self-help support tailored to those who may feel uncomfortable asking for help
  4. A focus on prevention, embracing technology and access to data-led, personalised interventions that make a real difference for the individual.
  5. Employee power, forcing businesses to rethink their relationship with employees to attract and retain the brightest talent

As the cost of living crisis escalates, workers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied. With skills gaps in many sectors today, the onus is increasingly falling on employers to not only provide financial incentives but also improve staff satisfaction.

In lieu of a pay rise, there are plenty of other non-fiduciary incentives an employer can offer to incentivise workers and help retain staff. After all, hiring is an expensive process, and many businesses cannot afford to lose employees, particularly against the backdrop of the current talent shortage.

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