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People are key assets in any business and valuing them can make or break your business. Focussing on employee wellbeing and taking care of workers is crucial and most successful companies embed this culture into their business strategy.

Having and keeping the right people in place is essential to any business but especially important in the early stages of your businesses when times can get tough. As well as looking after yourself, it doesn’t have to cost much keep your staff engaged and motivated! There are numerous studies showing engaged employees improve productivity and are more committed to you — so it could make all the difference.

The makeup of the future workplace is both multi-generational and made up of different work types such as employees, workers, self-employed status. Just to clarify that whilst this blog focuses on employees, some of the tips included below may help even of you have not ‘employed’ them, and you can build your brand with this in mind and gain a competitive edge. There are differences between ‘understanding your legal obligations’ or ‘nice to have’…

So here’s our quick guide to employee wellbeing:

1. Get it right from day one

Even new employees have some legal rights and getting these right is an easy way to avoid early headaches. Any employees you take on will have a right to a written statement of terms and conditions within the first two months of their employment. This will include details of the job role, the employee’s responsibilities and their benefits, and will generally define the working relationship.

Employees have the right to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (in other words 28 days for someone working a five-day week). They will also be entitled to other statutory payments; namely maternity pay, adoption pay, shared parental pay and paternity pay.

2. Understand that pensions look after your employee’s future wellbeing

You are under a statutory duty to enrol your staff into a pension scheme which meets certain minimum standards and to pay a minimum level of contributions into that scheme on behalf of the worker. This process is known as auto-enrolment.

All “eligible jobholders” are entitled to be automatically enrolled. In order to be eligible workers must meet certain requirements in relation to their age and their qualifying earnings. If they elect to join then the relevant scheme is a defined contribution scheme, and you must pay a minimum level of contributions to the scheme on their behalf.

3. Take a flexible approach

One way of promoting the wellbeing of staff is to allow them to take a flexible approach to their work. Flexible working options, such as home working, are becoming easier to offer now as a result of better technology and the idea of coming and sitting in an office for five days a week is increasingly outdated.

Flexible working practices may also give employees more freedom to fit their work round their other commitments, and will give them a greater sense of autonomy when it comes to the organisation of their working day.

4. Management is key and manage mental health

Work-related stress is a common condition, and can lead to an employee taking an extended period of time off on long-term sick leave

Stress is the “adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them”. Most staff benefit from a certain amount of pressure in their work. It can keep them motivated and give a sense of ambition. However, when there is too much pressure, they can become overloaded. Stress can affect the health of staff, reduce their productivity and lead to performance issues.

So how do you combat stress?

5. Listen to your staff and ask them what support they need

How people are treated and managed on a day-to-day basis is central to their mental wellbeing and to how motivated and engaged they feel. Ensure that they feel comfortable asking for the support they need.

Incorporate wellbeing into your relationship with your staff by:

  • Developing an atmosphere of trust by asking for feedback about the support you provide.
  • Ensuring you regularly ask how they are and how they feel their work is going.
  • Being supportive, approachable and responsive.
  • Supporting them to monitor their workload and encouraging healthy working hours and a positive work/life balance.
  • Providing them with meaningful work and opportunities for personal development and growth.
  • Making sure that work is clearly defined and deadlines are reasonable, and that they understand their role in the bigger picture.

So in summary:

  • Get it right from day one — make sure you get the basics rights to avoid aggrieved employees
  • Pensions are your employees future wellbeing
  • Be as flexible as possible in your working practices to accommodate the needs and preferences of those who work for you.
  • Management is key and promote good mental health — good mental health should be promoted, and support offered (such as adjustments to workload or a small change in working hours) if needed.
  • Listen to your staff and recognise the value of wellbeing at work as a tool to retain staff

Finally wellbeing should be high on your agenda — no matter what stage your business is at. Remember the people you employ will help you grow, so wellbeing matters!

Please contact the Trowers’ team for more information. We have also produced a series of fact sheets to help you, so click here to access our online resources.