Does worker wellbeing affect workplace performance?

In the fast-paced world we live in it can be easy to lose sight of our wellbeing. But how does your employees’ wellbeing impact their workplace performance? GRACE KOUVELIS reports.


We live in a society, where we are constantly pushed to achieve more and more. Many employees glamorise long working hours and glorify the resulted exhaustion from having to pull “all-nighters,” all in an attempt to squeeze in as much work as possible and meet deadlines. But how does this affect our wellbeing?

Surely pushing ourselves to the limit is doing no favours for our health. We know that excessive amounts of stress and not dealing with it appropriately (e.g. not getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep, overindulging in caffeinated or alcoholic beverages) is detrimental to our overall wellbeing. But what is also of interest, is to flip this relationship in question and ask how does wellbeing affect our workplace performance? Research has demonstrated that subjective wellbeing is correlated with job performance1. More specifically, longitudinal studies have found a causal link between the two, such that high levels of subjective wellbeing preceded higher job performance. A clear positive statistically significant relationship was also found between workplace performance and job satisfaction. 

Let’s rewind for a second to make sure we are all on the same page. Wellbeing is a holistic term, which refers to a stable state of being well, feeling satisfied and content. According to dictionary.com, it is defined as a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity; welfare.” Workplace performance can be defined as how well expected activities and responsibilities of an employee are executed. So how exactly does wellbeing affect workplace performance?

Why is it important to promote wellbeing in your workplace?

Due to the undeniable importance of maintaining a good wellbeing, promoting it in the workforce is basically a necessity. Evidence based findings from Medibank’s private study in 2005outlines benefits for both the individual and for the company, which are summarised below.

Individual level:
·         Improved job satisfaction and motivation
·         Enhanced concentration and productivity
·         Decreased stress levels

Organisational level:
·         Increased productivity
·         Improved decision making
·         Reduced sick leave and absenteeism
·         Reduced staff turnover
·         Increased ability to attract and maintain new employees
·         Fewer worker compensation claims
·         Increased financial performance
·         Quality of outputs of services

It may make intuitive sense to you that wellbeing will lead to higher job performance. But in the fast paced world that we live in, it can (and often does) get misunderstood and pushed down the priority list. 

So what can you do to facilitate wellbeing in your workplace? 

Below are some tips that you can take on board.

Educate yourself about wellbeing: It would be difficult to promote something so important if you don’t understand it yourself. Conduct your own research, or seek help from a specialist provider of workplace mental health initiatives. And remember to practice what you preach.

Adopt a holistic approach: Wellbeing encompasses all areas of your life. For instance, eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising (approximately 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week), reduced alcohol and caffeine consumption and promoting social and emotional wellbeing.

Be aware of warning signs: Become familiar with warning signs or symptoms of someone who is not travelling so well. Equip yourself with skills to approach it sensitively and effectively. For instance, organise a private catch up with your employee when they have some spare time. Make sure they feel comfortable and start an informal conversation, e.g. “Hey, thanks for meeting me. I have noticed of late that you’re exhausted every morning and you’ve been drinking way more coffee than you used to. Is everything okay? Did you need me to review your work load? Maybe you could leave a bit early one day this week?”

Check in regularly: Know your staff and check in with them frequently. Speak to them in person rather than always emailing them, ask them about their weekend and be mindful of any additional stressors. Follow-up when needed.

Be flexible: Everyone responds to situations differently. Working out what works for your employees to make sure they aren’t too stressed and that their wellbeing is being looked out for is important. For instance, delegating work tasks fairly, allowing certain breaks, letting employees work from home (if appropriate) or ensuring time is given for school pick up (if needed).

Promote wellbeing: Set up a team meeting to discuss and promote ways to enhance wellbeing. Touch base every now and then, reminding staff of the importance of staying well. If the task is beyond your scope, organise an external company to help you implement a wellbeing plan into your workplace.

The importance of promoting and enhancing wellbeing cannot be emphasised enough. Not only on an individual level, as employees will be happier and healthier, but on an organisational level, leading to improved workplace performance. So it’s a no brainer really, that employers would want to push for employees to maintain a good wellbeing. To find out more, contact us on 1300 4 RESILIA (1300 47 37 45) and ask for one of our managers who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

 

 

Sources

[1] Bryson, A., Forth, J., and Stokes, L. (2014). Does worker wellbeing affect workplace performance? Department for Business Innovation and Skills. October 2014.

[1] Medibank Private Study. (2005). The Health of Australia’s workforce. Medibank Private, Australia.

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