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Have we reached a wellbeing tipping point?

Friday June 21, 2019


Posted on: Friday June 21, 2019

Presenteesim is rising, productivity is falling and global engagement levels are plummeting

Sometimes it can be difficult to support employees and the challenges they are facing if you don’t fully understand what they are going through. Presenteesim is rising, productivity is falling and global engagement levels are plummeting.

If, as employers, we can empathise more with our staff and the challenges they are facing in their personal lives we can better support them and, through this support, help remove the distractions that are occupying their minds at work.

To do this, imagine you are outside on a busy street. You can hear cars, lorries, the odd siren in the distance. Next to you is a roadworker digging up the road with a pneumatic drill. Someone is trying to ring you, but you can’t hear properly and the message is garbled. You can feel your stress levels rising and you can’t concentrate on what the caller is saying. You want to get out of this situation, but you can’t because this noise follows you around – when you are at work, at home, in bed at night.

Now imagine that noise isn’t an actual physical noise that is filling your consciousness, but it’s debt worries, relationship worries, health concerns, worries about the future. You may try and dull the noise with distractions which helps you escape for a short time, but the noise is always there. 

It’s not difficult to see how this noise starts to impact a person’s work. Amplify this noise across an entire workforce and you can see why engagement may be falling despite the new initiatives being introduced by HR, why productivity is falling despite new technology being introduced and wellbeing is now appearing on more and more board agendas. Last year, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 57% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Personal Group have been conducting happiness surveys for three years now and the results show a significant and consistent picture that people are less and less happy at work. Since 2017, workplace happiness has dropped steeply. Our survey found that, in 2017, 51% of staff reported being happy most of the time at work. Today only 41% of us feel the same and 26% of us report we are almost never happy in the workplace.

Employers report ever reducing levels of employee engagement – but our hypotheses is that employees may only be disengaged at work, because they simply can’t engage with work because there is too much else going on in their lives. Whilst employers can’t do much about Brexit, or other distractions, we can try to reduce the external noise and help employees live happier and more fulfilled lives. Our CEO recently spoke at the REBA employee wellbeing congress about the wellbeing tipping point. The point where the impact of employers doing nothing, is greater than the cost of investing in wider employee wellbeing initiatives.

Sometimes the key to engagement isn’t about changing thing internally for employees, it’s about helping employees remove the distractions and supporting them through whatever is stopping them having the headspace to feel engaged at work. This may be through an Employee Assistance Programme to support employees with stress, bereavement or relationship problems, financial education or employer loans to help staff manage their debt, or even bringing your company pension provider into talk about retirement planning to help alleviate worries about the pension gap.  

Our data suggests that we are a tipping point where a wellbeing strategy integrated across physical, mental and financial wellness is more cost-effective than letting people struggle with the noise of the pneumatic drill on their own. Yet the conundrum remains, making these benefits available does not guarantee that employees will access them. Engaging employees with any wellbeing solution needs to be designed to meet your own organisational requirements. Our specialism at Personal Group is to meet the needs of employees who can’t easily access company systems, those who don’t drive a desk, and are traditionally more difficult to reach with internal comms. We’ve been forced to develop great innovative mobile solutions which get around those issues by introducing Hapi, an app that sits on the employee’s own device and that gives them access to all company resources, including the wellbeing initiatives, anytime, anywhere.

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The Power of Happiness

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