How focussed is your company on employee wellbeing? Do you take measures to ensure your workforce is content and satisfied? Though the benefits of heightened employee wellbeing are well-known, and its links to performance management are undeniable, unfortunately, it is all too often overlooked. This is costing companies dearly in terms of disengagement, absenteeism, burnout, and even illness.
Wellbeing can be described as a cumulation of your self-esteem, relationships, your emotions, your stress levels, and your sense of stability. Catering to these various facets is advantageous to a business in a number of ways.
Successful wellbeing efforts have been shown to significantly reduce employee turnover rates. Employees with heightened levels of wellbeing are also known to put in more effort at work while being more engaged. Poor employee wellbeing, on the other hand, can lead to a loss of productivity, creativity, and innovation.
Acknowledging the importance of a given concept is one thing, but making organizational changes is quite another. Though it might take time and effort to implement change, if forward-thinking companies put measures in place today, it can ensure that they remain competitive and attractive to top talent for years to come. But what steps can companies implement, and what adaptations can they make to their performance management systems, in order to care for their employees and improve employee wellbeing?
Provide appropriate training
There has been a lot of talk about a skills shortage, but is this the actual problem for businesses? Or is the real issue the fact that businesses are unwilling to adequately train their employees? Does your company hire employees and expect them to hit the ground running with minimal onboarding and infrequent training? Do you expect them to keep improving despite the lack of employee development on offer?
This is a recipe for disaster. The best managers are aware that while training can be time-consuming and expensive, this investment pays off in terms of productivity and performance. On the other hand, employees who aren’t given the right training opportunities will feel out of their depth and prone to stress.
Set clear, fair SMART objectives
How are employees meant to do their jobs to standard when they are in the dark about their goals? Objective setting is a critical part of any performance management system. A lackluster approach will seriously damage employee wellbeing.
More and more companies utilize a collaborative process when setting SMART objectives. They put employees in the driver’s seat, with the knowledge that employees are generally much more passionate about their goals, and likely to achieve them, when they are ones they have set themselves. Of course, managers should always be there to guide and support, while ensuring that employee SMART objectives feed into overall company goals.
Objectives need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This will help structure an employee’s work, it will keep them on track and provide them with context as to why their goals are relevant to the company at large. Most important is to ensure that objectives are realistic. There is nothing wrong with setting stretching goals, but if they are impossible to achieve, employees will suffer a knock to their confidence and self-esteem when they are, inevitably, not achieved.
Provide opportunity for personal control and autonomy
Increasingly, companies are incorporating flexibility into their company culture, with the knowledge that with increased autonomy comes improved wellbeing. There are a number of ways to introduce this flexibility. You might offer flexi-time or telecommuting options. As discussed above, you might consider allowing employees to decide their own goals.
Some companies, such as Netflix, have even gone as far as to not track employee working hours. You could also step back and allow employees to decide how to approach their workload. Micromanagement is a fast and effective way to diminish employee wellbeing.
Allow your employees to use their skills and strengths
We all feel better when we are able to play to our own strengths. Instead of focussing on weaknesses during performance reviews, consider each individual’s strengths and unique skills. What changes can be put in place to ensure that this employee can put their strengths to use on a daily basis? How can this benefit both the employee and the company? This forward-thinking approach has been known to drive engagement and employee confidence considerably.
Employees should always have supportive, and reliable, supervision
Employees need more than an annual meeting with their managers. They want the opportunity to develop a trusting, mentoring relationship, which is one of the many reasons why the annual performance review is becoming decreasingly popular. Instead, companies are introducing frequent one-to-ones, which allows for manager and employee to meet more regularly and develop an open dialogue. This means that employees are more likely to discuss any concerning issues, and managers are able to provide much-needed support.
Such meetings are also great opportunities for the exchange of employee recognition, which is critical for employee wellbeing. At a minimum, managers should consider monthly check-ins with their employees to maintain a healthy, reliable relationship and to offer productive feedback.
Provide opportunities for advancement and development
No matter how content an employee seems with their role, or with their company, they need to be aware of prospects for advancement. Nobody wants to be in the same role for years on end, without hope of promotion or development. This can be truly demoralizing, particularly for employees who are determined to succeed and really contribute to your business. If there are no clear routes for progression, or no development opportunities, it is likely that your top performers will pursue opportunities elsewhere, meaning that you lose out to your competitors.
During your regular performance discussions, you should cover what steps your employees need to take in order to advance. Provide training and tools as required, and offer encouragement and support. If you have a dedicated, ambitious employee on your hands, nurture this enthusiasm. It’s more than likely that they will prove to be a real asset to your company in the long term.
Prior to this, Stuart held in-house HR roles for well-known organisations including Boots, BP, United Biscuits and Sony where he was International HR Director for their Music Publishing division.
Stuart holds a BA (hons) in Human Resources Management and is a Chartered Member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development).