Making changes to improve employee wellbeing is a great way to invest in both your people and your business. Pretty-much across the board, all the research shows that increased staff wellbeing boosts motivation and productivity, and reduces absenteeism and staff turnover.
More importantly, in these times of rush, rush, rush, when we’re all so time poor and processing unprecedented amounts of information, businesses have a responsibility to do what they can to support those they work alongside. And increasingly, the brightest talent is using wellbeing credentials to choose their next employer.
This issue is particularly relevant in the IT sector, where full days sat down, focusing on a screen can lead to poor physical and mental health if not managed well. More than 50% of respondents in a recent report by ITSM.tools said they felt that ‘working in IT is negatively affecting their wellbeing’. So, that’s the challenge, now let’s look at how you can turn it into an opportunity to excel as a responsible employer in the IT sector.
5 ways to improve your employees’ wellbeing
1. Move more – supporting physical health
Adjustable desks and chairs are a great way to help each staff member get their posture and position right, preventing aches, strains and injuries. But there’s more you can do, encourage your team to move, create exercise lists and share videos about office-friendly stretches.
Movement actually reduces tiredness, especially after eating (a 90-second walk after a meal is great for getting the metabolism going!) and getting up and moving around minimises the risk of neck and back injuries from desk use. Consider group exercise classes held throughout the day and in-office visits from expert nutritionists or trainers.
Eyes-wise, aim for the 20/20/20 strategy – encourage your staff to rest their eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, looking at an object over 20 feet away. This has been proven to reduce strain and headaches.
Benefits summary: Encouraging your staff to move will help to reduce the risk of desk-based injuries such as back, neck and eye strains. Burn-out is also reduced, keeping your talent healthy and productive, and presenteeism is improved – ensuring staff are focused when at work.
2. Help people look after their mental health
It’s never been more important to support the mental health of your employees. The world is a complex, busy and challenging place, and issues from home will come with your team to the workplace. It’s an employer’s responsibility to help its people manage their problems through mindfulness and techniques, all in an office space that allows them to be themselves.
Your role isn’t to solve their issues, it’s to ensure you’re supporting their resilience and treating them as family by doing something to help. You could provide advice on – and a space to – meditate or tap, you could provide workshops and e-material on how to focus on one task 100%, or you could encourage your team to switch off from their devices a few times a day and read a book, or just sit and relax without the pressure to work or be seen working.
Benefits summary: By helping your team with their mindfulness, they can take control of their emotions in any stressful moment. They will be more resilient, more focused and more productive, resulting in more fulfilment for the individual and more efficiency for the business.
3. Get some plants (like on the space station) – improving the work environment.
This one’s all about creating a healthy environment for your IT team to work in. You can start by thinking about the power of colours and their impact on mood, increase natural lighting wherever possible and do what NASA do – add more plants. They discovered that plants would efficiently clean the air onboard the ISS, removing CO2 and a range of other chemicals that aren’t great for humans.
Cleaner air means healthier people, but the benefits of a bit of office greenery don’t stop there. Plants can reduce reduce stress, reduce noise, and increase creativity. Plus they look good, and to someone coding all day, they’re a natural and real element to appreciate in a typically digital environment.
Benefits summary: Natural light affects how people feel (think about SAD), creating more of it in your office boosts vitamin D and helps people feel alert and energetic, great for them and for productivity. Plants clean the air, reducing sickness and stress, and increasing productivity. A 2015 report by Human Spaces revealed a 15% increase in creativity and an equal rise in wellbeing for workers in an office with plants.
4. Create a culture of gratitude
It’s true that satisfaction, fulfilment and success comes from within, but we’re social animals and our inner wellbeing can be dramatically improved through recognition and respect. Employers must instil a culture of gratitude towards employees, recognising their efforts, and motivating them through feedback that lifts everyone, both the business and the individual.
By showing gratitude, you’ll encourage confidence in your staff, which in turn increases engagement, creative thinking and leadership skills. In order for this to happen, you need line managers to understand the power of gratitude and to use it honestly on a one-to-one basis or at a team meeting.
Benefits summary: Thanking staff increases engagement and work-ethic, as well as commitment to the business and cause. Genuine gratitude is also one of the most empowering feelings you can share with someone. A Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees would work harder for an appreciative boss. Enough said.
5. Boost team relationships
Your IT team spend a lot of their time together, sometimes more than they will with their partners, non-work friends and family. So as their employer, you have a responsibility to ensure your they have every opportunity to get to know each other well, build relationships and be a close-knit team.
Consider team-building exercises, but try more natural things too like casual meetings, free lunches and nights out. By facilitating stronger relationships, you create a sociable atmosphere where people enjoy being themselves. In turn this boosts engagement, attendance and overall morale.
Benefits summary: Helping to build stronger bonds between your staff creates a group of friends that work together, as their happiness increases, so does productivity and engagement with the business. By creating a workplace full of good vibes, shared memories and care for each other, your employees will WANT to be at work, decreasing absenteeism and boosting job satisfaction – great for your employer brand too!
So there you have it, 5 ways IT businesses (or any business, really) can improve the wellbeing of their employees and the positive impact it can have. Go do it, invest in your people and see the rewards back 10-fold in engagement, motivated new hires and productivity.
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