For a long time, feeling overwhelmed with stress seemed to be a normal — and even celebrated — occurrence in the workplace. However, more and more people are waking up to the fact that work-related stress has become an epidemic, that’s negatively impacting companies and their employees across the UK.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Health and Safety Executive found that more than half of all working days were lost in 2018 due to work-related anxiety or depression caused by stress.
With this number only set to rise, how can employers help their employees strike a balance between work and rest, in order to support the company’s success?
Meet the employee wellbeing day.
What are employee wellbeing days?
When employees push themselves too hard at work, they might be doing it with the notion that they are completing more tasks for the company’s benefit.
However, overworked employees are actually detrimental to the company, as they’ll be more likely to submit work that is either rushed or mediocre. Moreover, exerting themselves too much can cause them to feel burned out — a combination of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.
This is why the concept of wellbeing days has been introduced — it gives employees the chance to take care of their mental health.
Put simply, wellbeing days are designated time-off that an employee can use to recharge themselves, putting them in the right headspace for their jobs.
Employers must trust that their employees are taking care of themselves during this period, whether it means lounging at home all day or going out to the city.
Impact on productivity
For employers who are still worried that offering their employees the opportunity not to work is counterproductive, a report on Forbes reveals that less working hours have actually been tied to greater productivity. This is because employees are focused on working smarter, not longer.
Case in point, when Lendlease, an Australian construction company, started providing a wellbeing day per quarter, employees became more engaged, productive, and loyal to their employer.
In fact, Comeet’s discussion on some of the best global companies to work for highlights the importance of achieving a work-life balance in developing happier and more productive employees. When given the flexibility, time, and space to be able to attend to their personal needs, employees are able to put all of their priorities into perspective.
Brian Fajar summed it up well saying that employees must strike a balance between empowering team members to achieve company goals and also having time to themselves.
How to implement
Wellbeing days are a wonderful way to boost both employee welfare and productivity, but employers must be careful when they establish this concept.
Companies should allot the right number of wellbeing days to positively impact their employees’ wellbeing without affecting productivity. It’s important to note, though, that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to offering wellbeing days.
A good figure to start with would be one day per quarter, as in the example above, but managers and employees alike must evaluate this policy regularly to see if 4 wellbeing days a year is the right amount.
To ensure that wellbeing days don’t disrupt work, there should be clear guidelines on how they should be requested. Try not to be too prescriptive on how they should be used however as ‘health’ means different things to different people.
Requesting a day off at short notice may assist your wellbeing, but it will not help the wellbeing of the rest of the team. Therefore, it’s recommended that policies are put in place to ensure that wellbeing days are requested with sufficient notice to allow teams to plan their resources.
If caring about your employees is a core value of your organisation, then introducing wellbeing days will make your employees feel cared for — in a world full of pressure and stress.
However, it should not be entered into without consideration of the possible downsides, or for the wrong reasons.
With careful planning and a clear focus on the ‘care of’ rather than ‘performance of’ employees, a policy on Wellbeing days can be a positive change for your organisation.