In 2013-2014 11.3 million days of work were lost in the UK due to stress, depression or anxiety – an average of 23 days per person. Meanwhile in 2017 that had risen to 23.8 days per person, which has a big impact on team morale as well as a company’s success.
As Debbie Williamson, co-founder of online furniture store Swoon Editions, explained to The Guardian, for a small operation like hers, 23 days equates to 10% of the working year. She said: “If we didn’t create an environment in which our employees prioritise their wellbeing and look out for each other during busy times, we would need to compensate by increasing our workforce, with no added value for the customer.”
Business leaders have highlighted that in-demand wellbeing support are broad and cover a multiplicity of human needs with suggestions including things like financial education, mindfulness training, flexible working, on-site fitness options, access to healthy food, retirement coaching, incentive-based trips and providing a sense of purpose.
Knowing as we do that supporting our wellbeing has a very meaningful impact on our way of life, and indeed our way of work, this is about more than providing free breakfast and a yoga class. At the recruitment firm Douglas Scott, they trialled one-to-one hypnotherapy, “with the aim of tackling mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and insomnia”, while Brighton-based digital marketing agency Propellernet put 5% of profits into a dedicated “health and wellbeing fund”.
Wellbeing is a top priority for all of us, so if we take inspiration from the top, what are world-class firms doing to take care of their teams and improve wellbeing at work?
Apple has a medical practice for employees at its headquarters in Cupertino and announced this year that they will be opening medical clinics for employees. Apple also reimburses employees for classes taken and subsidies student loans. The tech company offers generous maternity and paternity leave, covers the cost of egg freezing and it’s rumoured to offer generous gym memberships.
Google is well known for taking good care of its staff, and as part of that it has an acclaimed wellness-centred campus, on-site gyms, free exercise classes, and in office massages at its head offices in California. Meanwhile, the free food is legendary, dogs are welcome at work, and at the Mountain View campus in San Francisco, they offer free transport on their dedicated Google buses.
The world leading brand has a dedicated, on-site “Microsoft Living Wellness Health Center,” where employees can get access to free health screenings and flu shots, eye care, wellbeing coaching and dieting advice. To highlight potential health issues for its employees the company also runs a wellness week, they are known to encourage an environment of giving and being a ‘citizen of the world’, and they offer flexible work schedules and generous vacations.
Coming sixth in a survey at the start of this year, Samsung offers employees a free mortgage advice service and a workplace individual savings account (ISA). Their emphasis on the physical wellness of its staff, with flexible gym membership programs, has seen them make sixth place on the survey. The company also gifts employees with frisbees, pedometers and a piggy bank to symbolise its health, wealth and lifestyle benefits with season ticket loans, personal accident insurance and discount dining cards, on-site personal trainers and cycle to work days – for example.
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