How to implement a successful wellbeing strategy

Pam Loch runs through the key points employers need to consider, from carrying out research to understanding your limitations

Measuring impact

A wellbeing initiative needs to be measured carefully to assess its impact. Establishing what you’re trying to improve – and determining how you can measure this – can make the difference between a successful strategy and a waste of time and money. 

You can seek to improve measurables, such as:

  • increasing staff productivity (dependent on your industry and output);
  • reducing the amount of time taken for illness; 
  • increasing staff retention/reducing turnover; or
  • improving overall employee satisfaction.

The way these are measured will vary. You might use staff surveys to measure employee satisfaction, running these every three months for a defined period. You could use HR software to measure the number of sick days taken on an individual or company-wide basis, and track how this changes over a period of weeks, months or years. 

There’s no limit to the variety of reporting metrics, but having a clearly defined set of goals, outcomes and metrics is crucial. Wellbeing can seem like an abstract concept, but once you have established the ‘deliverables’, you can implement an effective strategy. 

Conducting research

Before you invest time or money into a wellbeing programme, you should consider conducting research to determine which wellbeing programmes would most benefit your staff and business. This will depend on employee preference, as well as the goals you have in mind. 

There are various ways to gauge employee opinion to narrow down your initiative choices. These include:

  • online questionnaires; 
  • interviews;
  • open seminars; and
  • online forums (for industry-relevant discussions and feedback).

Once you have established the wellbeing programmes favoured by your staff, it will be easier to define a budget and a plan to implement them. You can also be confident that the tactics you implement have the support of your team.  

Choosing programmes

Employment wellness schemes have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and there are a wealth of options to match. Choosing the right method for your workplace will vary from business to business, but the types of schemes that are available to you include:

  • In-house: in-house programmes will often be overseen by appointed and trained staff members. 
  • Teachers: for wellness programmes that require specialist knowledge, such as meditation or yoga, it may be necessary to partner with local teachers or instructors.
  • Third party: businesses that lack the time to dedicate to overseeing wellbeing strategies may choose to enlist the advice or guidance of dedicated HR specialists, who can curate and implement bespoke programmes.

These methods don’t need to be exclusive. Wellbeing strategies come with a degree of flexibility to suit the needs of your business, so cherry-picking aspects from various strategies is a legitimate way to provide a more well-rounded approach. 

Considering your limitations

With so many wellbeing strategies out there, incorporating one may not always be practically or financially feasible, even if the idea is popular among your staff. 

Think about the practical implications of running the programmes you choose to implement. Limitations will depend on your business, but some fundamental factors include:

  • Spatial limitations: popular wellness schemes such as meditation may not be possible if you lack the space to implement them. Separate venues would need to be hired and budgeted for, which may not be possible for every business.
  • Budget: budgeting is vital, especially if your goal is to reduce costs. Wellness strategies don’t have to cost the earth to be effective; the cycle to work scheme is one example that offers financial benefits and discounts for employers.  
  • Lack of expertise: not all employers will have a well-rounded knowledge of wellbeing strategies, and not all businesses will have access to the resources or experience to develop one. External consultants may be necessary to provide guidance. 

The link between physical and mental wellbeing 

There is a strong correlation between our physical and mental health, and vice versa. Examples of wellbeing strategies in this area include:

  • Shorter working hours: reducing working hours has been found to increase concentration, reduce stress and boost productivity. 
  • Healthy eating: good nutrition is an effective way to improve both physical and mental health.
  • Fitness initiatives: gym membership, encouraging staff to walk or cycle to work in exchange for perks, and organised fitness classes. 
  • Health checks: providing mental and physical health checks for your staff or allowing them time to attend these checks during work hours. 

By conducting the appropriate research and making practical arrangements before you implement any wellbeing strategies, you can be sure that you are spending your time and wisely, and that your staff will be receiving the help, care and resources they need.

Pam Loch is managing director of Loch Associates Group