HR Outsourcing

Would a Puppy at Work Really Make Your Employees Happier?

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0b6697e103c7b80898ac51ff13eb21e7This time of the year marks a time of renewal and change. Outside, flowers are coming into bloom, while inside a winter’s worth of dust is efficiently exterminated. Increased footfall turns GAA pitches from green to muddy brown, while preliminary heats start in the search for a new Rose of Tralee. It is also a time for reflection; a time to ponder life’s important questions: Was that gym membership bought on a hungover January 1st great value for money, or should I cancel my standing order now? How is dabbing still a thing? But an even more important question deserves to be asked by employers. A question to which, if answered with some of the helpful tips outlined below, can improve productivity, efficiency and morale within the workplace. A question for all seasons, not just for now: What can I do to improve employee wellness?

Employee wellness is the promotion of mental, physical, emotional and psychological health and wellbeing in the workplace. Employers should be focused on improving wellness as Ireland is becoming increasingly health conscious; in 2016, Irish respondents to a Royal London survey said health was their top focus for the year. This growing trend is likely why this spring saw Food and Drink Ireland celebrate the third annual National Workplace Wellbeing Day. They have outlined a number of small initiatives a company can implement that can reap big benefits. Their wellness advice doesn’t stop at improving diet, they also suggest organising inter-company 5-a-side tournaments, and encourage workers to participate in a ‘lunchtime mile’ – walking, jogging, running or cycling together in the middle of the day. As well as the obvious health benefits, such initiatives can help employee bonding and in turn reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. Other more outré wellness methods include introducing yoga in the workplace, and workshops on mindfulness.

Across the pond, companies are already expanding the concept of wellness. SunTrust Bank found that 70% of workers felt ‘a moderate or high level of financial stress in their lives’. So they decided to take a holistic view of their employee’s finances, and now give workers an extra paid day off and help to complete stress-reducing financial tasks, such as taking a ‘financial fitness’ program online, creating a family budget, and even making a will. They are now industry leaders in ‘financial wellness’. With Royal London’s survey finding 46% of Irish people’s biggest worry is money, perhaps companies here should follow suit in considering employee finance and other psychological stressors in their approach to wellness.

Creating the right wellness programme for employees to flourish depends on the nature of the company. Tech sector employees are harnessing the power of apps, wearable fitness monitors and GPS to track their jogging and snacking habits. Other companies may wish to avail of more lo-fi but equally effective techniques, such as adding fruit bowls around the office, replacing the chocolate in vending machines with healthier options, and promoting the cycle-to-work scheme. And some even allow their employees to bring their dog to work.  With spring soon giving way to summer, there’s no better time than now to stop, smell the roses and reflect on what you can do to improve employee wellness.

Whatever your company’s needs, Insight HR can provide expert guidance on how to improve productivity and reduce stress in the workplace. Call 056 770 1060 or email mcullen@insighthr.ie for more information.

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