Maintaining consistently high levels of productivity is a challenge for any business. As larger corporations pour more time and resources into boosting staff productivity, one particular concept that has gained popularity is corporate wellbeing. It’s now clear that long hours and excessive stress can impact productivity, and organisations have been looking for ways to make their staff happier and healthier. But with tighter budgets and smaller teams, how can small businesses apply these principles?
Corporate wellbeing is often particularly relevant to small businesses, because it reduces the kinds of costs which can really impact the bottom line (and which are often more easily absorbed in large organisations), such as absenteeism, long-term illness and staff turnover. However, many can be discouraged by the idea that such schemes are out of their budget and are time consuming. With these tips, small businesses can introduce corporate wellbeing and benefit from greater productivity in a way that doesn’t encroach too far on time or funds.
Enforce Good Practise in Working Hours, Breaks and Time Off
When you are under lots of pressure, it can be tempting to transfer the stress you’re feeling onto your staff, and try to get them to work that little bit longer at the end of the day than they are technically being paid for, or incentivize them to skip lunch. No matter the occasional temptation, ensuring staff wellbeing means encouraging people to work sensible hours, have holiday and take their breaks.
Get staff to ignore work emails in the evening and on weekends (unless you have paid them to be “on call”, which shouldn’t happen too often). Be careful with how much overtime any one employee has committed to, and ensure they are aware of the dangers of burnout should they work lots of extra hours for weeks on end. Your staff’s working lives can also be hugely improved by flexibility on your part – especially when they have outside commitments like children or someone to care for.
Try not to foster a company culture of presenteeism. If someone regularly stays an extra hour and a half, have a chat with them about it; make it clear to other employees that while this behaviour isn’t punished, it most certainly isn’t expected or rewarded. It could be that they are struggling with their workload, or are inclined to overwork due to a conscientious or ambitious nature. Addressing the issue early on could ensure you don’t lose a good worker to stress or disillusionment later down the line.
Make Small, Healthy Incentives Part of the Workplace
You can make a big difference to people by implementing some really small changes and incentives in your workplace. Some ideas include:
- Offer a healthy breakfast. Around 10% – 25% of the US population don’t eat breakfast, but those who do are generally healthier than those who don’t. You could provide muesli, porridge, avocados, eggs, fruit and any other breakfast options that appeals to you, and let your staff help themselves.
- Give employees the option to earn 5 minutes of holiday every time they get to work by bike – within a month of cycling every day, they can take an afternoon off. However, they will also be healthier, fitter and happier, and half as likely to take time off work due to sickness. A study by Cyclescheme found that a third (33%) of employers surveyed said cyclists were more productive at work. In addition, 44% described staff who cycled as more efficient and 89% said they were more energized.
- Subsidize gym, pool or exercise/meditation class memberships. You could perhaps agree to pledge, for example, $30 a month to any employee cost of staying fit and active.
Encourage a Meditative Habit
Modern life is busy, and inevitably, stressful. Even the best job in the world can be burdensome and a source of strain if people are experiencing outside stress such as moving house, or looking after a newborn that wakes up six times in a night. As giving it all up and moving to a paradise island isn’t an option for the majority of people, encouraging stress-reducing habits in your own and your employees work lives is extremely important.
You could provide information about various meditation or yoga classes around your location in communal work areas, or invite a meditation in for a one-off talk to introduce your staff to the idea. Learn about various breathing techniques and pass this information on – perhaps in quick, illustrated guides emailed to each member of staff.
Meditation has been found to help people regulate their emotions and reduce social anxiety, focus on their tasks, boost positivity and make them more creative. Applied across a workforce in a business setting, these benefits may well see your small business doing better than ever before.
This post was written by Holly Ashby, social media manager and writer. She works with the London meditation company Will Williams Meditation, who help businesses implement corporate wellbeing programs.