Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Employee Well-being: An integrated approach

....Is there more to Employee Well-being than healthy eating and a pedometer?

Ask most HR practitioners what employee well-being means to their organisation and they'll probably talk about having healthy options available in the canteen, subsidised gym membership and on-site massage. Some employers provide access to physiotherapy, support to help you stop smoking or find childcare.

Whilst these are great benefits, when it comes to well-being I think they're missing the point. Yes you need to support employees to be as physically healthy as possible, and anything that helps create a sensible work-life balance is good thing, but ask yourself what your company is doing to invest in the mental and emotional health of your employees.

Before you say 'Ah yes, we've thought of that, we have an Employee Assistance Programme which provide a counselling service 24/7', I'd say you're still missing the point. Counselling is for people to use once they start having problems. Companies which really understand employee well-being have a culture which actively promotes mental, emotional and physical health day-to-day, as well as a system which deals with mental, emotional and physical ill-health when that occurs.

...Mental and emotional well-being? Hmmm, that sounds kind of tricky...Not sure if you should be straying into that territory? Fortunately there's increasing research (see Lyubomirsky, King and Diener (2005) for example) which shows that employees with higher subjective well-being are more productive, creative, optimistic, resilient, better at selling and persuading, and, of course, are more fun to be around. Tons of good reasons to start thinking about an integrated approach to employee well-being which promotes mental and emotional well-being alongside the physical.

In the next post I'll be looking at the Chartered Institute of Personnel amd Development's perspective on employee well-being, as outlined in their 8th Annual Absence Survey which was published earlier this month.

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