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Measurable delivery of wellness in the workplace

02 August 2019

PFM attended one of this year’s many Quadrilect courses to discover how to implement effective strategies and achieve the best results through engagement in wellbeing best practice.

Over the course of the last four years, PFM has attended a number of courses organised by the Quadrilect training delivery organisation, all of which are presented by long-serving FM industry professionals and include in-depth information and insights into the subject matter at the heart of each event.

Our latest experience proved to be another highly informative and enjoyable day spent in company with FM industry representatives attending the Wellness in the Workplace course presented by Katy Lawn and Colin Stuart from the Baker Stuart strategy transitional management consultancy organisation.

While the wellbeing topic has become an established and increasingly popular topic of discussion within the FM sector in recent years, discussions with the PFM Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members have provided some added insight.

This has resulted in illustrating how some companies have fully embraced the delivery of wellbeing in the workplace and enjoyed the benefits, compared with others that have either considered and decided against it, or have tried and failed to implement wellbeing processes and have walked away as a result.

It was therefore pleasing to see that one of the main messages emerging from the one-day Wellness in the Workplace course was the need to establish detailed processes to ensure that these initiatives were aimed at the specific interests of those delivering them. When combined with the application of procedures to measure the results, also discussed on the day, attendees were shown how these could be used to justify any investment required.

Mr Stuart and Ms Lawn started the day by reminding the delegates that FM “is all about the people” that use the many and varied types of facility managed by industry professionals.

This fact, combined with the long list of health and safety legislative requirements, has been a major contributor to the need for workplaces to provide the best environment for people to perform at their best.

The discussion has continued to grow from this basis over recent years, of course, leading to the recognition of how focusing on the wellbeing of individuals in all areas could increase productivity and seen as a potential means to justify investment in improving the interior design or addressing other aspects, such as air quality issues.

Another positive result can be the reduction of levels of attrition, with the savings providing another significant financial incentive in looking after staff in the best manner.

“If you make people healthy and happy in their workplace, it will have a big impact on the performance of the business,” said Mr Stuart. “You could say that keeping staff happy in their place of work can make a positive difference to the financial health of the organisation.

“The cost of people leaving the business is between one and two times their annual salary, which equates to between 8% and 9% of the total operating costs of the organisation, on average, so if fewer people leave as a result of our wellbeing efforts that part alone can cover any costs.”

Having conducted numerous studies on the development of the wellbeing discussion, Ms Lawn shared the results of some of these, illustrating how this has continued to grow in importance from 2010 onward.

“The focus on health and safety has extended to mental health more recently, along with comfort levels and reducing instances of issues such as musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace, leading to a blurring of the boundaries between work and health,” she said.

Although the wellbeing topic had increased in importance, there was still “a lot of waffle” being talked about within this subject, our presenters stated, using this point to emphasise the need to implement SMART objectives in recognition of the way that FM delivery continues to be seen as a cost by many businesses.

Further statistics to support these points were presented, including the fact that 15.4m working days were lost to work-related stress and anxiety in 2017/18, along with pertinent advice to check that all supporting information came from reliable sources. Mr Stuart shared his believe with delegates that both “FM and HR are uniquely placed to support wellbeing in the workplace” and should be supported and empowered by their organisations in order to achieve the best results.

Ms Lawn and Mr Stuart continued to demonstrate how workplace wellbeing can be divided into seven main categories of nutrition, environmental conditions, design, fitness, mental health, intellectual and community, with delegates encouraged to suggest initiatives that could be used to improve wellness levels within each of these.

Having stated the importance of ensuring that each wellbeing measure was as effective as possible for each organisation, the means to achieve this was then discussed. The use of surveys were proposed as the best starting point, with delegates participating in the traffic light game on the day.

Each individual was asked to hold up either a green, amber or red card in response to questions about how their organisation supported wellbeing in the workplace, with the results and comments recorded by Ms Lawn and used to create a ‘workplace wellness healthcheck’ that could easily be used by FMs to identify the areas where their organisation was achieving the best results and, perhaps more importantly, where it needed to improve its performance.

Following this, detailed instruction on the careful consideration of the most appropriate interventions was provided, with delegates invited to suggest seven options and evaluate these according to their potential impact on the physical, emotional and social requirements of staff.

The total for each one was then compared with whether the initiative was of high, medium or low cost to the organisation, showing where the most gains could be made for the least investment. Having identified the best procedure and the cost this would involve, the next essential element was the creation of the business case to persuade the organisation of the need to invest, using the results of the exercises outlined above combined with relevant and reliable statistics and case studies, where possible.

One of the useful tips within this was the need to gain support from an influential colleague, with the suggestion that they could then be asked to conduct the presentation. Delivery, monitoring and evaluation of wellbeing initiatives were all discussed in detail as the day approached its conclusion, including advice on how to gain the support of even the most resistant people, which had seen the most negative of colleagues being reassured to the point where they had become champions of initiatives and raising participation levels around the company.

Ms Lawn provided the final comment in the day’s instruction and helping to further emphasise the rising importance of wellness in all areas of society by reminding delegates that this has been seen to reach government level, following the launch of The Wellbeing Budget 2019 by New Zealand’s Treasury department.

The use of group discussion, combined with the relaxed and engaging style of presentation from both our instructors, resulted in the day seemingly passing surprisingly quickly, with the wealth of information shared providing delegates with a strong sense that it had been time well spent.

The next Wellness in the Workplace course will take place on 14 November.

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