As 2022 is drawing to a close, it’s fair to say this year has seen some challenges which will undoubtably continue into the coming year. Heading into recession, amidst a cost of living crisis, whilst recovering from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that workplace wellbeing remains a priority for employers.
The final Make a Difference keynote webinar of the year was a great chance for leading wellbeing professionals to come together to reflect on the passing year and discuss key takeaways and trends for workplace wellbeing as we head into 2023.
Sponsored by Vitality, the webinar panel was chaired by Isabel Berwick, Editor, Work & Careers, Financial Times. She was joined by Christian van Stolk, Executive Vice President, RAND Europe, Jill Pritchard, Director, Vitality at Work, and Antonio Marín-Blázquez Peces, Senior People & Organisation Director at Novo Nordisk Limited – Britain’s Healthiest Workplace winners.
As always, the webinar opened with a quick poll to find out what attendees felt has been the biggest wellbeing challenge this year. The results showed that a many people felt that employee awareness and engagement was the most challenging factor.
Christian van Stolk kicked off the discussion by sharing some data on key trends in the workplace and how health and wellbeing are linked to productivity.
He explained that both absenteesism and presenteeism contribute to lost productivity and lost working days, with the vast majority of productivity loss being due to presenteeism.
And this productivity loss is increasing over time.
What’s contributing to this productivity loss?
Christian’s data showed that this productivity loss is being driven by mental health concerns, with some demographics being more at risk – such as young people, menopausal women, and those with chronic health issues.
It’s clear that workplace wellbeing needs to remain a priority, especially as we head into a recession.
So what can companies do to improve workplace wellbeing going into 2023?
Novo Nordisk were the winners of the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace – medium size company, so Isabel asked Antonio to share some key insights into what he believes has contributed to their success.
Britain’s Healthiest Workplace looks at
- Environment and culture
- Services available and awareness
- How much people participate and how much it improves health
- The resulting business outcomes
After reiterating that there is a clear link between health and wellbeing and engagement, here are 3 key aspects Antonio highlighted.
- Personalisation – talking to people about what they value and need is key.
- Create an environment in which people feel they can share their struggles – It’s okay not to be okay, the more we talk the more we can tackle.
- Flexibility – people tackle things in different ways, giving people the choice on hybrid working. They’ve created an environment where people like to come into the office, but also enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home if they need to.
Of course, they offer lots of other benefits too – free, healthy food in the canteen being a very popular one!
The panel reflected on Antonio’s comments and their own experiences in workplace wellbeing over the past year. Here are some interesting thoughts that arose from the discussion.
- Wellbeing flows from the top down – Line managers who have poor health and wellbeing themselves are unable to support staff. Supporting the managers allows them to better support.
Reinforcing the business case – Jill shared that the productivity, engagement and satisfaction are significantly better in top organisations.
Doing more doesn’t mean doing better – Having 40+ interventions isn’t necessarily better – there is marginal return on participation after a certain point. It’s better to align your interventions and programmes to the specific risks in your organisation. Bring a simple but comprehensive programme/package. How you structure, package and promote affects engagement.
- Disconnect between focus on interventions – these are often focused on the higher paid but those people already tend to have better health and wellbeing.
Disconnect between employee and management perceptions – The best performing organisations have a smaller gap in perceptions. However, if there is a start gap this gives a good barometer to work from.
Some trends are really profound – it’s not about reversing those things but about how we can make improvements in that space.
Mind the digital divide – be aware that for some people a digital=first approach might not be helpful, there can be challenges getting older people involved for instance. Offer options and be inclusive.
Top takeaways from the panel to carry through into 2023
To round off the webinar, Isabel asked the panel to share their top takeaway for improving workplace wellbeing as we head into what promises to be another challenging year.
Here’s what they said:
Christian van Stolk – “It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing things better.”
Antonio Marín-Blázquez Peces – “Equip managers with the resources, capabilities and confidence to take care of the wellbeing of their employees.”
Jill Pritchard – “Keep wellbeing as a priority, there is a business case to help the health of our people at this time.”
You can watch the recording of the webinar and download tips and links that were shared in the chat here: