Thought leadership

Workplace well-being – Your employee’s perspective

With a market size of more than $45 Billion, the workplace well-being sector is experiencing unprecedented levels of growth. While it is attracting a lot of attention and investment, employee wellbeing can often take the top-level down approach. Sometimes employees are the last to have a say when it comes to their wellbeing at work. Here at KAYA, we aim to create long term wellbeing initiatives that truly benefit employees as well as their organisation. So, to understand what’s going wrong, we decided to interview a group of people from various industries across the UK. Let’s take a look at common employee perspectives on wellbeing in the workplace:

What about your job worries you?

Several things can cause worry. Out of all those interviewed, a general feeling of stress is the most common answer. Add that to not feeling like you’re doing well, striving for perfectionism, feeling like there are too many unrealistic expectations, job security and financial worries. It seems to most people there’s a minefield of worries at work.

Do your worries affect you on the job?

Absolutely. Feeling worried about your job can make it far more challenging to do your job well. As Amelia, a 27-year-old marine scientist in central London whose office struggles with employee retention explained to us, ‘Sometimes it feels that the weight of being overstretched, undervalued and overworked is unfair and massively affects performance’.

All these worries increase anxiety levels making it hard to focus and do a good job. Trying to do your best all the time to keep your job can have a negative impact on how well you do. It’s as if you get stuck in a vicious cycle of stress, lack of focus and performance worry. As human beings, we are not very good at compartmentalising events and dealing with them individually. What happens at work spills over in our personal lives and vice versa.

Does your company invest in your workplace well-being initiatives? Do they help?

Tom, a 58-year-old project manager in Oxford, told us that although his work provides him with a free gym membership and fresh fruit in the office, it often feels more like a gimmick or stunt. ‘I know it works for some people, but I’ve got plenty of fresh fruit at home. That’s not my issue, neither it will help reduce my stress.’ Tom goes on to explain that when you’re feeling stressed and worried about money, it just doesn’t feel like enough is being done at the office to really help calm his anxiety and worry. The general sentiment is that, rather than a one size fits all approach; companies need to invest more time to understand the specific needs of individuals and then create interventions to address that.

Would an app or programme to help and manage your wellbeing be valuable to you?

‘Yes, please!’ was the response we heard most to this question. When asked to elaborate, multiple interviewees explained that it feels like there is such little interest in that aspect of working life from Human resources and senior management that it feels hopeless voicing frustrations. An app or programme set up to manage wellbeing stress would be a helpful tool. Creating a safe place for employees to manage stress where HR can also get insights into stress levels & employee wellbeing would positively impact employee performance and team productivity.

Did you ever have to fill in Staff wellbeing or HR survey?

Yes, with a groan. HR wellbeing surveys are overwhelmingly common. A standard set of questions that don’t seem to have a purpose or drive behind them. Just something human resources probably does because they’ve been told to by someone higher up. There is a strong sense from employees that there is a lack of effective team management when it comes to employee wellbeing.

If yes, did the results affect your performance?

Sammy, a young architect in South London, told us that although he’s filled out multiple surveys at his work, he’s never noticed any results. An unfortunately normal response. He goes on to explain that they fill in questionnaires, and that’s it. It feels like an empty gesture, just a mandatory action with no purpose or value behind it.

It seems that there is a wide gap between these conventional surveys and real-time process and assessment, further indicating that an app or other tracking programme would positively help employees and their productivity. Having said that some companies are doing well in this area. They are not only collecting data but are acting on it. These companies don’t leave anything to chance. They ensure that every manager has a regular conversation with their team member.

Too often, we see companies mistaking employee wellbeing as a hygiene factor without trying to embed it as part of the organisation culture: an office party here, a box of fresh fruit there. But when you walk in your employee’s shoes, the problems in these half-hearted programmes becomes abundantly clear. Where programs like these really work is when the leaders of the organisation invest their time and model the behaviour they expect others to follow. For example, in PwC, when the wellbeing program was rolled out, six senior partners were behind it and led from the front. No wonder, they have managed to create a holistic wellbeing strategy beyond providing fruit bowls or health checks.

When asked if they would like an app or programme, there was not only a definite ‘yes’ but intrigue as well. Employees want to know that their wellbeing is valued. Establishing a well thought out and careful initiative would not only create a better working environment, but it would lead to higher productivity, better employee engagement and increased employee retention. Tracking real-time progress is not only welcomed by employees but is absolutely needed from the interviews we’ve carried out here at KAYA.

Workplace well-being mobile app KAYA, helps you track your employees’ wellbeing and measure its impact on their KPIs & productivity. Sign up with us to take a free trial today.

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