10 steps towards a holistic approach to employee well-being

Holistic approach Inuka Coaching

What is holistic employee well-being? It means expanding your well-being programme beyond physical and mental health or eliminating overtime. Many interconnected elements impact your workers’ happiness and productivity: mental, physical, social, professional, or financial. While complex, once implemented, the holistic approach can help your organisation thrive and brave the uncertain future.

Why is holistic well-being important in the workplace?

Struggling employees mean your business is struggling too. Insufficient well-being solutions can generate high costs – from absenteeism, sick leaves, high turnover, lower productivity, and even potential legal fees due to emotional distress or discrimination lawsuits.

On the other hand, a holistic approach to employee well-being means that employees are happier, healthier, more resilient, and more loyal to their employer. According to Gallup, effective holistic solutions decrease the risk of a worker changing jobs by up to 81%!

How to ensure a more holistic approach towards employee well-being?

More greenery in the office or daylight lamps can help, but these steps are far from enough to ensure your employees are happy, healthy, and productive.

For your employees – and hence your organisation – to thrive, you must consider each element of employee well-being and understand how they’re connected.

Audit the current well-being programme

First, analyse your current well-being solutions to identify existing problems. During this step, you also create a baseline that will allow you to track results and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a good idea to incorporate regular strategy audits to identify and react to any issues quickly.

Your employees’ voice here is vital – only they can tell you how they feel and what they need. Gather feedback from anonymous forms, organise discussion panels, or ask for assistance from their representatives.

Create a well-being strategy

Employee well-being should be aligned with your business goals. Set clear KPIs and use easily trackable metrics but also include data from self-reported forms or employee feedback.

Adjust expectations and be patient: holistic well-being programmes often require significant investment but seldom yield immediate results. However, the long-term effects and ROI are definitely worth the money and time.

Redefine your DEI strategy

You may think that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion solutions are old hats by now. Still, they’re more important than ever and need to become one of the foundations of your organisation. 

People are all different and have their specific needs. Still, inclusion and equity are even more essential parts of the holistic approach to employee well-being for members of minority groups, neurodiverse workers or those with disabilities and mental health issues.

Offer accommodations and adjustments – not as a benefit but as a necessity. Setting a budget for tech and office equipment – also for remote workers – is a good starting point.

Build your work culture on employee well-being

A holistic approach towards employee well-being should be the foundation of your organisational culture. Create an environment that supports your workers’ physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial health.

That means, for example, actively promoting work-life balance. Encourage breaks and time off, or gamify physical activities or mindfulness by creating an incentive-based programme.

Make your organisation a safe space for your employees. Introduce a no-tolerance policy towards violence and discrimination. Motivate employees to report unethical behaviour and protect them from backlash for stepping up. Statistics are startling: 39% of workers don’t believe the company will address the problem, and 46% fear retaliation. You have a chance to prove them wrong.

What’s more, you also save money on potential legal costs and high employee turnover.

Finally, promote transparency and enable straightforward communication between the organisation and employees.

Expand childcare, fertility and family planning benefits

Research shows that parents were more likely to quit their job during the pandemic due to a lack of company support. Expand flexible childcare options and introduce support for employees returning from parental leave.

Consider fertility benefits. In a recent poll for Fortune, 45% of workers considered these benefits a vital determinant when looking for a job.

Hone on in mental health support

While each element of the holistic approach to employee well-being is relevant, mental health is perhaps the most important, as it’s intimately connected to all the others. Insufficient psychological support is costly: burnout and mental health issues can cost your organisation even €60.000 per employee yearly!

Provide accessible educational resources and create mental health awareness campaigns but focus on individual mental health support. It’s no longer an attractive benefit but a must for every organisation. Consider online coaching, which is affordable and accessible for office and remote workers. Of course, ensure that they are aware of the available support options.

Increase your employees’ agency

Agency and a sense of purpose are also crucial parts of holistic well-being. Consider implementing organisational practices that include employees in decision-making and encourage employee innovation.

Train your managers and team leaders

Train managers in giving and receiving feedback as well as better communication. Consider the Non-Violent Communication framework.

Make sure they recognise signs an employee may be struggling and know how to provide support or direct them to the right person, e.g. an HR specialist.

Adjust workload

Ensure that your managers and team leaders also understand the strengths and capacities of each of their team members. Too much work or unsuitable tasks significantly increase the possibility of burnout. 

Managers and leaders should set realistic goals and time frames, give tasks tailored to the employee and, most importantly, stay in open communication with them. Team members must know they can come to their superiors for help without being judged or ignored.

Find support

These are just some examples of improving holistic well-being in the workplace. If you’re overwhelmed or unsure where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to well-being experts that can help you build an effective holistic well-being strategy tailored to your organisation. 

You can take the first step by participating in the free online roundtable with HR experts that Inuka regularly organises. If you can’t make the next one, subscribe to our newsletter, and we’ll let you know about future sessions!

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