Employee wellbeing initiatives- why do we need them?
As organizations continue to face pressing challenges with employee retention and employee engagement, focusing on employee wellbeing initiatives that will mitigate the risk of these scenarios should be at the forefront of the minds of human resource groups.
Research cites several factors to explain the issue of employee retention in the years following the pandemic. Undeniably, retention and engagement (i.e. staying at a company and taking proactive measures toward its goals) are issues of employee satisfaction. Almost all of the explanatory research in this area points to some piece of the employee/ manager relationship not working.
Often, employees feel undervalued or uncomfortable communicating with their direct managers. Did you ever hear the saying, “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers”?
To put it simply, when people are not connected to their managers, their work, or the organization, they are much more likely to leave. Companies then must pay the price.
What is an employee wellbeing initiative?
While it can be tempting to implement simple, band-aid like programs like step challenges, complimentary snacks, or group mindfulness activities, these attempts tend to bypass the challenges employees are facing.
These programs also ignore the reasons employee retention is at record-lows in the first place. Which means that there likely won’t be any worthwhile, sustainable return on such investments.
Think about it from the perspective of an employee. If you feel like your boss does not understand you, you can’t approach them, and you are not seen for your own value in your place of work, what would make you stay?
It would likely take more than some afternoons out of the office for a walk or periodic free breakfast. You need an employee wellbeing initiative that gets to the root of the issues that are causing employees to leave.
What can organizations do instead? 4 immediately actionable employee wellbeing initiatives:
There are much more effective employee wellbeing initiatives organizations can pursue, and while they will have much more lasting impact they are not overly complicated or expensive.
One way to understand employee satisfaction and fulfillment is through the lens of attachment theory. Attachment theory is a facet of relational psychology that explains human behavior as seeking connection to others and meaning in their life’s work.
To get address the reasons employees are leaving, organizations should address the reasons employees are unsatisfied. Using the lens of attachment theory, organizations can implement strategies that get to the root of the employee needs at a human, psychological level, reducing conflict that may lead to retention issues.
1) Require frequent manager-employee check ins and 360 feedback
The strength of the manager- employee relationship is crucial for the health of organizations. Often times when employees leave an organization, management will say they are caught blind-sighted. At the same time, no one ever asked this employee how things were going!
Research in the field of relational psychology has found that managers take on attachment figures in employee’s lives. This means that employees, unconsciously, see managers as a source of security.
If the relationship is not strong and maintained over time, employees will experience uncertainty in their place and security in the organization. This uncertainty can shift to the distress that causes employees to leave.
Creating a more healthy dynamic to facilitate employee wellbeing does not need to be complicated or time consuming. We recommend biweekly check ins with managers and employees to check in on expectations, status updates, and any presenting challenges. These check ins will serve as an employee wellbeing initiatives by making employees feel valued and cared for in the work place.
2) Increase access to senior management
Skip-level meetings are necessary for organizations to catch their blind spots. If employees do not feel comfortable sharing something with their manager, there need to be other funnels to capture any sentiments that may put them at-risk for leaving the company.
Skip-level meetings are a great way for more senior management to gather and share feedback with the team-leaders in their organizations. They also provide the bonus of making employees’ feel even more seen and heard.
3) Create a culture of support through team-building
While the employee manager relationship is crucial, employee wellbeing initiatives should also foster relationships between teams in the organizations. Friendships in the workplace can serve as a protective factor for people who are unsatisfied with their managers or their work.
Companies should be thoughtful about these activities and select something that is meaningful to its people and does not impede on their lives outside of the workplace.
4) Involve employees in creating a shared mission
In addition to feeling connected to their boss and their colleagues, employees who feel connected to the mission of their role and finding meaning through their work are much less likely to leave their jobs.
Therefore, rather than sharing down values and a mission statement from the top, involve employees in team level discussions about their values and objectives for their role. This will create a culture of togetherness and buy the individuals in to the shared work.
While you’re at it-take their suggestions! Make your people feel heard. You may even ask them what type of employee wellbeing initiatives they would like to see in the future and show your commitment to them by implementing their suggestions.
Traditional wellness activities as employee wellbeing initiatives
Once the above programs are put into place, there is nothing wrong with implementing more laid back employee wellbeing initiatives that may be less relational in focus.
However, given the risks of retention facing organizations, putting band-aid programs into place without addressing the relational health of your people will fall flat. Employees need to feel valued, heard, and connected to the organization to show loyalty over the course of their careers.
So go head, order the step-counters. Just don’t forget to hear your employees first.
Thanks for reading! Please check out our corporate wellness services and pin this post for future reference.