Time to put employee wellbeing on the business agenda
As businesses across every industry continue to undergo major digital transformation, employees working in these environments are feeling increasingly unsettled. In fact, the Future Risk Report from the British Safety Council suggests that emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or robots, will place increased pressure on employees, due to work insecurity and a drive for greater efficiency. At the same time, this influx of technology is exposing all of us to an unprecedented flood of information and emails that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours. The type of work, skills required and working locations are ever-changing, and this ‘anywhere, anytime’ workplace can have a negative impact on productivity.
Used in the right way however, AI and automation can reduce repetitive, tedious work tasks to create headspace for workers to focus on more innovative and creative work and improve their experience of the workplace. But are employers doing enough to create the right working environments that will both support their employees and get the most out of them in terms of productivity?
Wellbeing: A key ingredient in the employee experience strategy
As I discussed in a previous post, employee experience is critical to helping businesses get ahead in the digital age; as happy, healthy workers will always perform better than their poorly motivated, unhappy colleagues. Gartner recently reported that employee experience is one of the eight building blocks of the digital workplace, a growing industry that according to IDC, will grow to $7.1 billion by 2020.
Yet, while the benefits of wellbeing in the workplace are widely acknowledged, less than half (48%) of organizations have specific programs in place that focus on employee health and happiness. This is according to new research: Transitioning to the Future of Work: CIO Views, conducted by CIO WaterCooler and Atos, who surveyed 100 CIOs and IT leaders about how they are approaching the future of work and its challenges.
The business benefits of taking a proactive approach
According to the report, over a third (35%) of respondents say they feel stressed at work, with 2.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17. Yet, research shows that reducing stress in the workplace frees up an employee’s mental capacity to focus more on work, thus increasing productivity. By taking a proactive approach to improving the employee experience and getting to the root cause of what’s causing the stress before they reach breaking point, employers will benefit from increased productivity, a higher quality of work, lower absenteeism, improved creativity and innovation and ultimately, better business results.
Maintaining health and happiness in the workplace
If employers are to realize some of these benefits, they must ensure they can translate awareness into action. One approach that companies can take is to invest in an employee assistance program (EAP). This is a (confidential) workplace service that provides a range of assessments and services to help increase employee wellbeing. These include services for addressing personal challenges such as financial management, interpersonal relationships and time management, as well as driving measurable and sustainable changes in nutrition, exercise, sleep, and relaxation.
Dutch bank, ING offers an EAP as part of its wellbeing program, which has seen a 95% take-up rate since it launched in March 2017. More than 1,200 workers in 30 countries have signed up to ING’s “wellbeing quotient” project, which provides education, monitoring and coaching in six-month blocks focusing on nutrition, physical activity, sleep and relaxation.
At Atos, we’ve introduced Atos Revitalized, a wellbeing program that helps employees to track and monitor their health confidentially. Metrics such as the employee’s height and weight, sleep patterns, alcohol intake, exercise sessions and medical appointments can be measured over a period of time (with the employer being able to access anonymous aggregated statistics rather than individual scores). Various coping strategies and action plans are provided to help the individual improve on an area they wish to work on. For example, if the person is looking to improve their fitness, the portal provides an exercise plan to help them achieve this.
Over 13,000 employees are currently using Atos Revitalized, which provides each person with a wellbeing score. These scores have been found to increase over time as each employee gets involved with the programme. This awareness can help to increase productivity in the workplace as the participants become more aware of the benefits of maintaining their health.
Managing employee stress and wellbeing will be a significant aspect of planning for future working environments and managing change. If business leaders are to succeed in the Future of Work, the focus must be ensuring a great employee experience, with wellbeing at the heart.
To download a copy of the full ‘Transitioning to the Future of Work: CIO Views’ report, click here