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The surprising benefits of concentrating on wellbeing in the workplace

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Investing in wellbeing is not just the right thing to do, it’s a driver of organisational success.  

 And when we talk about success, we mean growth, productivity, and efficiency, leading to profitability.  

The Skills Consulting Group has conducted a comprehensive investigation into workplace experience and needs among a cross section of New Zealand businesses and employees. Our findings were clear on the role of genuine care for employee wellbeing in increasing employee effectiveness which in turn leads to better productivity and profitability.  

Businesses should aim for wellbeing. Why not productivity or increased profitability? Because you can’t control how your staff turn up and how effective they will be – it’s too intangible. But if you look after their wellbeing with genuine care then productivity and profitability will follow.  

Here are some of the ways organisations benefit from wellbeing in the workforce.  

Employee wellbeing increases collaboration 

Great collaboration between teams is essential for efficiency and productivity. Wellbeing promotes better collaboration, however it is often overlooked and the finger pointed at structure instead.  

Organisational restructuring is as regular as the seasons of the year. The trigger is usually a recognition that things aren’t working. And often, the feeling that “things could be better” arises from poor collaboration between teams. 

However, restructuring people into new teams won’t solve the underlying issues – collaboration will only truly happen when employee wellbeing is high.  

And conversely, restructures can erode wellbeing because people never see the changes as coming from a place of care for them as employees. Instead, it signals a desire from the leadership for teams to work better in order to serve the company’s objectives.   

Instead of restructures, businesses would be better off focusing on satisfaction as a solution to collaboration – a Deloitte survey showed that satisfied employees collaborated 28% of the working week, compared to 12% for those that were dissatisfied.  

Satisfaction impacts motivation, which in turn impacts collaboration and productivity.   

When employees believe that there is genuine care for them and they see the evidence for that in their work experiences, it improves their sense of wellbeing which, in turn, motivates them to support others, including other teams which in turn reduces inefficiencies.  

 They can adapt to new organisational structures and collaborate with their new team members and internal customers when their own needs are being met. In the lockdown world of Covid with working from home and workplace social distancing becoming the norm, the need to maintain collaboration is even more critical.   

When organisations show genuine care for wellbeing, employees’ trust increases 

Our research shows that genuine care increases employee wellbeing. And genuine care is based on trust. 

Evidence shows that people have well-tuned antennae that detect organisations’ motivations. If an employer’s actions aren’t trusted, that affects how people feel and behave.  

 Employees need to trust that wellbeing initiatives come from a place of genuine care. When orgaisations show genuine care in their approach to wellbeing, it reinforces trust in the organisation.  

 Bowls of fruit, free yoga classes, and engagement surveys with no consequences do not carry the stamp of trust. Token gestures or ‘tick box’ initiatives erode trust.  

So if we want people to be motivated and effective then we need to invest in an approach that people can trust because it comes from genuine care.  

Our research shows that employees want policy and implementation that shows genuine care for their wellbeing. And when employees feel genuinely cared for, their productivity will increase.  

HBR data shows that compared with people at low trust companies, people at high trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity. 

 A better employee experience means better customer experience  

Most businesses focus on customer experience over employee experience.   

 Customer experience programmes are laser-focused on revenue growth and profitability. The goals of employee experience, on the other hand, are rooted in engagement and focused on cost saving.   

Employee experience has traditionally been seen as a cost saver, rather than a money maker. A better employee experience is seen to reduce recruitment costs, reduce training new employees as a result of staff churn, and alleviate wage pressure – unengaged employees were more likely to see wages as the main reason for staying. Engagement is a cost saving frame of reference and HR budgets to improve engagement among employees are typically justified on that basis.   

But a more effective investment is employee experience. Companies that invest in employee experience outperform those that don’t, simply because better employee experience means better customer experience which results in improved profitability.  

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As the focus turns to employee experience, it is essential to understand the most influential driver.   

Our research identified genuine care as the key drive of great employee experience, resulting in employee wellbeing and all of the associated benefits. In our survey, around 7 in 10 employees rated ‘a culture that looks after its employee wellbeing’ as important, but only 3 on in 10 said the company they worked for currently have that culture.  

That’s a big gap and a big opportunity for organisations and HR professionals to invest in.  

And we know that where leads – better customer experience results in improved profitability.  

Colleen Ryan, Partner at TRA, headshot in black and white
Colleen Ryan
Partner at TRA
Colleen has a curious and strategic mindset fueled by 40 years of experience in business across Europe, North America and APAC countries. With a fascination and deep understanding of what it is to be human, specifically applying principles from cultural sociology, social psychology, behavioural science, and cultural analysis, she brings breakthrough insights to brand strategy, creative development and customer centricity.

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