The benefits of having healthy, motivated and happy employees are compelling, but despite employers’ best efforts, recent studies show that many companies still have a long way to go.
A healthy work culture is all about the quest for mental and physical ‘wellness’. Real-world results show that where workplace wellness is valued, there are significant advantages both for employees and the business’s bottom line.
In this article, we’re going to look at current levels of wellness in UK workplaces and explore the benefits that can be gained by businesses that make creating a positive workplace culture a priority.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The latest figures from Babylon Health show that, in terms of their mental wellness, many UK employees are not in the best shape. In fact, in a single year, 15.4 million workdays are lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression. That accounts for 57% of all the working days lost to ill-health in the UK every year, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
The recent Tech and Inclusion Report from the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), found that the situation is no better in the tech industry. 66% of more than 3,000 members of the UK technology community admitted to feeling stressed at work, while 52% admitted to suffering from anxiety and depression at some point.
Perhaps more concerning still is the fact that 31% of Asian and 40% of Afro-Caribbean workers said they have experienced negative discrimination in the UK tech industry as a result of their ethnicity. Diversity is critical to business success, particularly in the fast-moving tech industry, so this is a huge concern for everybody.
The Advantages of Having a Healthy Work Culture
There are numerous proven advantages associated with having a healthy work culture, with benefits for an employee’s physical and mental health as well as their performance at work. The benefits include:
- Fewer absences – Happy workers have fewer days off and are more ‘present’ when they are at work. With absenteeism and disengagement on the rise in many UK workplaces, an investment in the health and wellbeing of employees could reap significant rewards in terms of productivity, innovation and growth.
- Better performance – Some employees make the mistake of thinking that longer working hours lead to increased productivity, but productivity is far more nuanced than that. To perform at their best, employees must be happy, healthy and well-rested. Taking regular breaks is essential as it helps to improve focus and concentration and reduces the impact of the dreaded ‘afternoon slump’.
- Greater engagement – A healthy workplace culture brings employees together inside and outside of work. Teamwork, collaboration and social activities improve relationships, motivation and engagement – all of which can bring a significant boon for employers.
How a Healthy Work Culture Can Improve Lives
It doesn’t take grand gestures or deep pockets to make employee wellbeing a priority. As you can see from the following personal stories from workers in the UK tech industry, simple activities and small changes can be enough to improve people’s lives.
“I’d been working for a company that had a very non-diverse work environment, and as the only non-Brit in the company, I felt like I struggled to fit in. My personal life was also not in a good place as I had recently split from a partner I shared a flat with and had been diagnosed with depression.
Thankfully, I started a new role in the London tech industry that brought some brightness to my day. My manager was very protective of my time and made sure I didn’t take on too many projects and had the headspace to thrive. My colleagues were also kind, supportive and appreciative of my work. People would check in on me, but they were never intrusive, allowing me to leave my personal problems at home.”
Martha*, Digital Marketing professional
“While working for my current employer, my back started to become very painful and that caused me a lot of anxiety at work. Thankfully, my employer provided me with the tools to help me manage and eventually overcome the pain.
I was allowed to take regular breaks and take advantage of a subsidised gym membership, office yoga and even a free supply of fruit. These perks made me feel supported and showed that my managers cared and had the tools to help me out. This had a positive impact on my mental and physical health and reduced the anxiety I felt about not being able to perform at my best.”
David*, Digital Marketing professional
The Company Culture at Push
Family is at the heart of the culture at Push. Work is a major part of all of our lives – it is where we spend the vast majority of our time and often where we make friends.
“We are passionate about embracing a culture of family together with diversity and inclusivity.”
Nemash Patel, Marketing Manager
We know that having a fulfilling job can be great for mental health and general wellbeing. Happy employees are also productive and it’s our staff that makes us the great company we are through their positive interactions with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Our Wellbeing Journey So Far
- 28th July 2019 – Mental Health First Aid Champions Training. We now have dedicated Mental Health Champions in the office to support the team.
- 29th July 2019 – Wellbeing Insights Audit. We have been taking action based on insights and recommendations from our staff.
- 2019 – Holiday Entitlement Increase. We communicated a holiday entitlement increase and have a WFH policy to benefit our employees and Push. We also have flexible working hours in the office.
- 2019 – Graduate Assessment Days. Our on-going commitment to increasing resource has resulted in Graduate Assessment Days. There have been 15 new full-time employees across our teams in 2019 and more are to come in 2020.
- 2019 – Company Shuttle Bus. By providing a shuttle bus to the station in the evenings we improve the journeys home for our staff on public transport.
Our Next Steps
- Reviewing our Office Space. We will be working with Habit Action to review and improve the use of office space.
- Wellbeing Training for Management. We will be running training programs for senior management including managing wellbeing, how to excel under pressure and mastering personal resilience.
- Policy Development, Pathways and Procedures.
- Support Resources. We will be providing an Employee Assistance Programme and Occupational Health services.
- Dedicated Wellbeing Space on Intranet.
- Rewards and Recognition Procedure Review.
Are You Doing Enough to Support Your Team?
There’s no shortage of research tying a healthy work culture to improved mental and physical health. By taking steps to better support your team, you can help them develop knowledge, self-management and coping skills that produce long-term benefits for your business and make it a happy and healthy place to work.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.