Help your employees beat the January blues

Most people agree January is a pretty miserable month. This year, Monday 20th January is Blue Monday – scientifically (or not as the case may be!) the most depressing day of 2020. But in all seriousness, business should recognise the risks associated with not managing employees health and well-being effectively. We’re sharing our thoughts about three subjects that contribute to stress in the workplace and have a negative impact on the well-being of your staff.

MINIMISE STRESS THROUGH A HEALTHY WORKPLACE CULTURE

It’s no surprise that stress is the number one cause of long-term absence. According to HSE statistics, in 2018/19 there were 0.6 million new or long-standing reported cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK.  In 2018/19,  12.8 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Pressures and stresses can come from both work and home. At work there are often heavy workloads and long working hours, while at home there can be financial stresses, lifestyle pressures and general family concerns, all of which have an impact on the way people feel and act at work.

Employers should consider the mental, as well as physical, wellbeing of their employees, focusing on prevention rather than reacting to some of the possible outcomes such as high staff turnover, high absenteeism rates and the associated business costs with both of these.

The introduction of flexible working or flexi-time can help employees deal with stress by allowing them to balance their work and personal lives more effectively and reducing the need to take time off. Businesses should also ensure managers at all levels of an organisation are supportive and empathic. Awareness, encouragement and recognition are important, as feeling valued and appreciated provides a key extrinsic motivator which can have a positive impact on a person’s well-being.

Visit the HSE website for more information about dealing with workplace stress: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/

LIMIT OUT OF HOURS COMMUNICATIONS

Just about everyone is contactable all of the time these days. Often it’s hard to ignore those emails and messages when they come in, even if it can wait until Monday morning. As an employer or manager, it might be worth taking a moment to think about how sending emails out of hours might affect the recipient and put them under unnecessary pressure. If you don’t require an immediate response but just want to tick it off your ‘things to do’ list, consider setting up a time delay or create a draft to send early the next working day instead.

DISCOURAGE PRESENTEEISM

Presenteeism, where employees continue to come into work when they are unwell, can be a big issue for employers. A member of staff who is not fully fit enough to engage at work may be physically present but will not be making a proper contribution to the business, impacting not only the quality and quantity of the work they produce but affecting the overall working atmosphere, including for the people around them.

‘Presenteeism’, or people coming into work when they are ill, has more than tripled since 2010, according to the latest CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing Survey. The survey reports that 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the preceeding 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010. Having unhealthy people at work could create a vicious cycle, with more employees falling ill after catching a cold or illness from sick colleagues.

Presenteeism is more likely to occur there is a culture of working long hours and where the demands of the business take priority over employee wellbeing. Employers should take action to make sure that the culture of the business supports employees as recognising the importance of healthy, happy staff will lead to business performance improvement across the board.

Do something about the wellbeing of employees in your organisation…

INSPIRING provide a range of support for organisations looking to improve their Health and Wellbeing culture, including Employee Surveys, Leadership and Management Development and consultancy services to help implement BS 76000 – Valuing People standard.

Looking after employee mental health and wellbeing

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13th to 19th May 2019, which should give UK organisations a reminder that they need to look at the problems that can arise by not managing employee mental health and wellbeing effectively.

A recent survey conducted by St John’s Ambulance found that nearly 45% of people have considered leaving their job due to mental health issues. Furthermore, two thirds of people who took part in the survey said they felt uncomfortable asking an employer for a mental health sick day and 1 in 4 felt their work is having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

Workplace stress is a massive problem for UK workers. According to the HSE, over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work. It is the legal duty of businesses to take action to protect employees against stress by doing a risk assessment to assess the risks in the six main causes of stress in the workplace, namely:

  1. Demands
  2. Control
  3. Support
  4. Relationships
  5. Role
  6. Change

Pressures and stresses can come from both work and home. At work there are often heavy workloads, long working hours and colleague relationship issues, while at home there can be financial stresses, lifestyle pressures and general family concerns, all of which have an impact on the way people feel and act at work.

Employers should consider the mental, as well as physical, wellbeing of their employees, focusing on prevention rather than reacting to some of the possible outcomes such as high absenteeism and staff turnover rates.

Employers can help people deal with stress by allowing them to balance their work and personal lives more effectively. Businesses should also ensure managers at all levels of an organisation are supportive and empathic. Awareness, encouragement and recognition are important, as feeling valued and appreciated provides a key extrinsic motivator which can have a positive impact on a person’s mental wellbeing.

Visit the HSE website for more information and advice about employee mental health and wellbeing and dealing with workplace stress: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/what-to-do.htm

For more information about Mental Health awareness week, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

Measure the wellbeing of your employees

INSPIRING provide a range of support for organisations looking to improve their Health and Wellbeing culture, including Employee Wellbeing Surveys, Leadership and Management Development and consultancy services to help implement BS 76000 – Valuing People standard.

Employee Engagement Surveys: using benchmarking to compare your results with other organisations

We’re often asked by our clients how their scores compare to other organisations that we have provided employee surveys for. We’ve been using our own ‘engagement index’ for 13 years now, so we’re sharing some of this insight and looking at some other benchmarking resources that might help you determine how you match up to other organisations.

Providing benchmark scores

As all of the surveys that we conduct for our clients are designed specifically for their own organisation, it would be impossible (and unethical!) to compare scores between surveys to determine if one organisation is ‘better’ than another. However, many organisations do want the ability to be able to rate themselves against similar organisations.  External benchmarking resources can be particularly useful when referring to results which indicate levels of employee engagement, as this has been proven to have a significant impact on employee, and in turn, organisational performance. Back in 2003, Towers Perrin (now WillisTowersWatson) identified the items that define employee engagement:

  • Emotional Items – to determine an employee’s personal satisfaction and the sense of inspiration and affirmation they get from their work and being part of an organisation
  • Rational Items – relating to the relationship between the employee and the broader organisation.

A set of questions were included in the Towers Perrin 2003 Talent Report and subsequently in their 2005 Global Workforce Study to determine employee engagement levels in line with the above items. Inspiring have drawn on this set of questions to create our own ‘engagement index’ and have used these when designing employee engagement surveys for many of our clients, ever since we began providing employee surveys 13 years ago.

Of course, the headings and questions have changed somewhat in more recent Global Workforce Studies (find out more about the 2016 study on the WillisTowersWatson website), however for Inspiring, using our original set of questions as a constant has allowed us to monitor ‘engagement index’ scores over the past 13 years and provide a benchmark for our clients to measure their own results against.

In the majority of our surveys, we use uniform distribution to calculate a percentage figure that reflects the positivity score of each question. From within our engagement index, here are the questions that have resulted in the highest and lowest average scores (as of 30th June 2017) for surveys undertaken since January 2014:

  • I care about the future of XYZ: 84%
  • I would recommend XYZ as a great place to work: 71%

These scores, along with those from our other engagement index questions, provide a useful reference to help organisations put their own results into context, as well as give an indication of what can be achieved by having an effective employee engagement strategy. For those organisations who have undertaken repeat surveys with us, it’s usual for their scores to improve year on year across the engagement index, especially when they have developed and implemented an action plan following their survey feedback. Our engagement index average scores are of course changing all the time as we conduct more surveys in which these questions are included – in fact, over the past 12 months the average overall engagement index score has increased by 0.5%.

Identifying the reasons for high or low survey scores

Having conducted hundreds of surveys over the years, we’ve had the benefit of gaining insight into the trends which affect employee engagement levels within organisations. Here are some of the factors that we’ve found to have had the greatest effect on employee engagement scores:

Higher levels of employee engagement

  • Being people-focused
  • Good communications
  • Opportunities for training, learning and personal development
  • Strong leadership
  • Culture of trust and empowerment.
  • Good work-life balance

Lower levels of employee engagement

  • Lack of communication
  • Organisational Change
  • Workload / staff shortages
  • Poor leadership and direction
  • Lack of respect or concern for non-managerial staff

The effect of pay on employee engagement

Although pay and benefits do not feature in our engagement index questions, perhaps unsurprisingly, research conducted by other organisations suggests that this is a major factor in employee engagement. In the XpertHR Employee Engagement Survey 2015, Pay ranked highest as the most substantial influence on employee engagement, cited by 37.1% of respondents. In addition, an HBR study, published in Human Resource Management Journal earlier this year, showed that performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and trust in management.

Useful Resources

Benchmarking is often confusing, as there are so many surveys and reports out there to consider. If you’re looking for some free resources to help benchmark your organisation externally here are three places which might provide some useful statistics:

The CIPD’s Spring Outlook provides findings from their latest survey and it’s free to download.

The Global Workforce Study conducted by WillisTowersWatson mentioned earlier in our blog is also an interesting read for anyone concerned with employee engagement.

XpertHR offers a free HR benchmark tool to help you find out how your organisation compares on key HR and employment benchmarks.

Team up with Inspiring…

Find out more about our employee surveys on our website. If you are considering undertaking an employee engagement survey and would like more information about our services or would like to chat to one of our team about benchmarking, get in touch on 0800 612 3098 or email us at info@inspiring.uk.com.

Motivated employees mean greater productivity

Research shows that a motivated employee is far more productive than one who is not, therefore making sure your team feel happy and supported is not only ‘the right thing to do’, but it is also right for your business.

Everyone knows the difference between working with someone who is motivated and someone who is not. The extra commitment, enthusiasm, focus and productivity of a motivated person are obvious to see.

Research shows that a motivated employee is far more productive than one who is not, therefore making sure your team feel happy and supported is not only ‘the right thing to do’, but it is also right for your business.

So what should you do when the positive vibes are lacking and how should you deal with an unproductive member of your team? The answer is: you set about changing their attitude!
We’ve come up with a few of the ways in which you can support your employees to help them become more motivated and productive members of your team.

Give training where needed

Everyone hates not knowing what to do. Your employees are more likely to be productive when they understand what exactly is expected from them and they are given the training to perform such a task. Training gives confidence and confidence leads to employees that are productive.

Let your people shine

You’ve invested in training, spent time getting to know your team and have spotted some real potential – so don’t let it go to waste! Giving individuals the opportunity to use their skills to the best of their ability will give them great satisfaction whilst the business will gain value by making the lost of them.

Encourage self-determination

Enable your people to make decisions for themselves at a level appropriate to their role and responsibilities. Allow individuals to initiate and regulate their own actions whilst ensuring line managers step up to their role of supporting their team members. It’s about creating a good level of trust within your business, i.e. does the manager trust the team member to do the job? Does the team member feel trusted?

Be supportive

Make sure your employees know that, however you feel about them, you are willing to offer your support and stand up for them. If employees believe that they are supported by their employer (and their line manager) in getting what they want out of work beyond just money, they will respond with positive behaviour.

Make sure they know their contribution counts

Make sure that your people understand the impact they have on business performance as a whole. At all levels they should be able to describe the contribution they make and the important part they play in the success of the organisation.

 

Team up with INSPIRING…

If you want to increase productivity in your organisation, team up with INSPIRING. We can help you develop an effective employee engagement strategy, which will reward you with greater levels of innovation; increased commitment from employees and, ultimately, better productivity that will impact directly on your business’s performance.
 

Why people are leaving your organisation (and what you can do about it)

Understanding why people leave your business and having the strategies in place to deal with issues effectively is crucial if you want to retain your best employees.

If people are leaving your business, it will usually be for one or more of the following reasons:

Lack of manager support…

Unsupportive managers are a key reason for people leaving. It’s a common saying that people leave their manager, not their job.
The skills and behaviours required for leaders and managers are different. An Inspiring Leader has a clear and compelling vision for the organisation. They can engage their team and encourage increased productivity. An Inspiring Manager will be able to set objectives and communicate effectively to their team, helping your employees to pull together and achieve your business goals.
INSPIRING can help you diagnose problem areas and provide tailored development through our Inspiring Leadership programmes.

Not such a great place to work…

Culture, physical working environment and operating policies all factor highly in ensuring a healthy, engaged and productive workforce.
The culture within your organisation impacts the happiness and satisfaction of your employees. It also strengthens, or weakens, employee retention and affects how your business attracts new talent. Conducting a culture survey will pinpoint what’s needed to create and maintain a positive culture: i.e. valuing, recognising and supporting individuals contribution to the company, both from the perspective of the employer and employee.
You could also look into having a wellbeing survey , which measures the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of your employees, as well as identifying areas where you can improve wellbeing within the workplace.

Career progression…

You will have a better chance of holding on to your employees if you have plans in place for talent management, succession planning and learning and development.
Spotting employees with leadership potential and helping them to develop their skills and behaviours will reap big rewards for both the individual and your organisation. Have a look at our recent article ‘How to identify future leaders in your organisation’ for more about this.
As well as offering learning and development solutions, INSPIRING can help with design and implementation of a tailored performance management system to ensure that your team is set relevant KPIs / objectives that not only reflect your business needs, but also correlate to their personal development.

Not feeling valued…

Employees will leave if they are disengaged and don’t feel appreciated. Reward and recognition isn’t always about money. Everyone would like to get paid more for what they do, but other important factors for job satisfaction include opportunities to:
• grow and learn new skills;
• to progress their career;
• to work on challenging and stimulating projects;
• to be acknowledged and praised for their efforts; and
• to feel that they are an important a part of the overall business.

Working with BSI’s new people management Standard (BS 76000) will ensure your people practices are clearly defined and consistent. As a result, your employees will be more engaged, paving the way for improvement in both individual and business performance.
INSPIRING can support you throughout every stage, from your first look at the Standard through to initial audit and beyond. Achieving certification against BS 76000 will help your staff to understand their impact on the overall business and demonstrate that you truly value your people.

The best way to find out why your people are leaving is to ask them!

Conducting Exit Surveys will help you understand why employees leave, enabling you to identify any problem areas. INSPIRING’s bespoke exit surveys, with reports tailored to your business, will help you to understand and reduce staff turnover.