Happy and healthy employees are the compelling factor behind any successful business. Healthy employees will not only take lesser days off due to illness, but those who are well and exercise regularly are more likely to give better job performance.
However, physical fitness is just one area of human health and happiness.
Pressure points like financial stability, workload, family, health and social interaction are elements that influence employees’ emotional well-being. Suppose a person’s emotional well-being is low due to lacking or issues in these areas. In that case, their performance and effectiveness at work will likely decline. This is why an organized and supportive approach to handling employee stress and well-being is becoming progressively important for employers.
Health insurers internationally are helping to push awareness about employee health. Research in the UK from Cigna2, a global health benefits and services company, has shown that only 39% of the UK population rate their overall health and well-being as excellent or very good. Compared to the UK, employees are living much more challenging lives in Pakistan, and you can see that employers have a challenge on their hands.
Other research into employee well-being shows that people cite work-related stress and lack of work-life balance as a reason for their mental unrest. Additionally, financial instability and lack of monetary support are other causes of mental and emotional unhappiness.
With so many employees facing these challenges, it’s not surprising that many workdays are lost due to employees needing days off to recuperate from their emotional well-being issues. Stress, anxiety and depression are the main causes of emotional distress internationally.
What it Means for Managers and Employees in Pakistan
Most HR managers in Pakistan are aware of the need to support employees’ mental well-being at work. This proves to be an essential measure for improving an organization’s overall productivity and boosting its internal and external reputation.
To ensure emotional well-being by supporting this, it is essential that staff, especially those with greater decision-making power, assess their current workplace culture and what it represents. They must also evaluate the extent this culture (or its objectives) is reflected in the well-being of its employees.
Ensuring well-being at work is not a kindness the company offers to its employees to make them feel at ease. Well-being at work is essential to improve employee motivation and commitment to their company—such measures, when effectively managed, help significantly improve labor productivity.
Take Employee Attrition and Feedback into Account
Measure the staff attrition rate; remember that it should not be very high. If it is, your company cannot keep most of the employees it hires. And if attrition is excessively low or almost zero, a company is not very dynamic and incapable of growing or grooming new talent. Consider employee responses during exit interviews to see if there are hints of toxicity or complaints about something specific to the business environment and culture.
If there is an excessive hint of toxicity or work stress, it is better to have random staff assessed for mental stress through professional surveys or medical assessments. Since the group health policy covers medical assessments, there should be no financial burden on the employee or employer.
Set Goals to Evaluate Improvement in Employee Well-being
Based on the feedback and other assessments, set fixed, specific, measurable, and time-bound targets for the workplace well-being rate. For instance: Set a goal that at least 80% of the workforce rate their employee experience as a 7 or more within one year. Or to maintain the employee turnover rate under 10 % for the next 12 months.
Therefore, well-being plans in companies have based on a series of actionable steps from point A to point B, with point A being taken as the base point and point B as its next stage.
Make Goals Dynamic and Self Correcting
Once the implementation is started, the process of applying for well-being programs in a company is ongoing. It should become a base element of business policy, corporate culture, and the work methodology followed in the company’s various departments.
Differentiate between Performance and Productivity
Make sure that you and other managers understand that well-being programs are not designed to be a gift to employees as a form of compensation for their performance at work. In reality, well-being programs are designed to boost people’s well-being to enhance sustainable productivity.
This means that well-being programs do not focus on improving productivity in any way possible. Instead, they consider people’s complete well-being and focus on long-term productivity growth. This means supporting both the physical and psychological well-being of employees. Such programs adapt to the requirements of staff members.
Corporate well-being is not a random sequence of giving some importance to employees’ physical and psychological health. On the contrary, it should be based on a detailed plan. This plan should start with identifying needs, making and executing decisions to take care of the employee’s health, setting realistic, concrete, measurable, and scheduled objectives, and having a concrete methodology for evaluating and communicating results.
A Guide for Employers
The first step to improving emotional well-being in the workplace is for managers to take notice of their employees and note changes from their usual behaviour. For example, an employee who was previously outgoing could become very withdrawn, or an employee who’s usually quiet may become more vocal and outspoken. Often, it is only in hindsight that employers and colleagues realise that there were signs for them.
The first conversation between an employer and the employee is usually very difficult. Reporting managers are generally apprehensive about crossing a line into an employee’s privacy. Major concerns are traditionally about violating professional etiquette or getting more information than anticipated or being comfortable with. However, these need to be ignored for the sake of employee and workplace health.
Managers must listen to what an employee has to say and understand the employee’s perspective before making any suggestions or looking at specific triggers that bring out symptoms.
3. Take action
Employers must guide and offer support to any employee who shows signs of an emotional well-being issue. Thankfully there are several options for emotional well-being support and a range of mental health services like psychotherapy, psychiatric care and online self-help. Having this support available can help put people on a course of treatment quickly, with minimal stress. And for employers, this helps promote a workplace culture that enables employees to seek help when they need it.
A Positive Outlook
It is important to keep your employees’ health and happiness at the top of your company’s well-being agenda. It’s also critical to promote awareness of emotional well-being issues and create a culture where employees feel they can talk openly about their concerns. While most group insurance policies do not support mental health treatment outside of hospitalization, group life insurance offers good support in diagnosing and identifying mental health issues.
Early intervention is vital because emotional well-being concerns often last for many years. The right support at the right time can help your employees to achieve positive emotional well-being and enable them to remain productive members of the workforce.
The bottom line remains that an employee’s emotional well-being stems from ensuring that their basic needs like pay, work-life balance and health are issues their employers are concerned about.
Employees who feel their employer is concerned about their well-being are more likely to be motivated and engaged and are less likely to leave. Being able to guide employees to this type of support helps cement trust and, in turn, can positively affect employee satisfaction.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.