Workplace wellbeing: 4 ways to improve yours

How to improve your workplace wellbeing – whether you’re an employer, manager or employee…

There are multiple motivations for companies to increase their workplace wellbeing efforts. For many company owners, the productivity benefits will be of paramount importance. Yet it also provides yet another competitive advantage at a time when great job-seeking candidates prove more challenging to find!

Of course, if you’re reading this from an individual perspective you’ll need little convincing as to why it would be helpful for you to feel less stressed, more supported, and all-around healthier throughout your working weeks. With this in mind, let’s look at…

4 ways to increase your workplace wellbeing, according to recent news reports:

1. Use your lunch breaks!

Source: HR News

This topic crops up time and time again, which is why it’s less of a surprise to hear that British workers are giving up 19 million hours worth of lunch breaks per day!

10% of professionals are grabbing lunch at their desk on a daily basis and 22% will give themselves less than 10 minutes for lunch.

However, legally, all employees working more than six hours a day should receive 20-minutes of uninterrupted lunch-break. Lunch breaks also provide all sorts of health boosts – from lifting your mood to reducing stress and increasing your concentration.

  • Managers/employers: here’s yet another message to make sure all bosses are honouring this right! If you know your employees are regularly skipping their breaks, you need to act fast.
  • Employees: take your breaks! If there’s a major reason you don’t feel that you can, you should discuss this with your manager or HR contact.

2. Move more often.

Source: HR Review

81% of British office professionals spend somewhere between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desks. This tots up to 67 days per person annually!

Alongside this, few people feel comfortable in the chairs provided and many report daily aches as a result. Although, legally businesses must conduct regular ‘workstation risk assessments’.

Research conducted with ergonomic equipment and sit-stand desks across a four-week period led to increased workplace wellbeing, higher comfort and greater energy levels.

  • Managers/employers: let this be a nudge to conduct those risk assessments and find out how your team is feeling. Explore better desk and chair options. Encourage everyone to take short breaks to get up and move around.
  • Employees: we should all aim to stand up and move at least every half an hour. Even if that’s just to pop up and down a flight of stairs, take something over to a colleague, head to the loo or put the kettle on.

3. Introduce or become a Mental Health First Aider

Source: The Telegraph

About 1 in 6 of us will experience a mental health problem at work at some stage. Full-time working females are twice as likely to encounter something of this nature. That’s a lot of the working population and may contribute up to 12.7% of national sickness absence.

Younger workers can also experience additional challenges, including exam anxiety and social media pressures alongside workplace isolation.

  • Managers/employers: why not introduce a mental health first aid person or team, dependent on the size of your business? Visit Mental Health First Aid England or St. John’s Ambulance for training details and advice.
  • Employees: you could volunteer to be a mental health first aider at work. Share some of the research behind this, alongside some of the training course details and see whether this is of interest to your employer. Here’s a recent advice piece we shared on LinkedIn for workers experiencing anxiety or depression.

4. Watch your environment

Source: HR News

64% of HR professionals believe a poor workplace environment can have a ‘substantial’ impact on employee sickness rates.

Naturally, absenteeism is of national concern as it now amounts to a cost of £18 billion a year. Think it’s always been the case? Well, 59% of people now take more sick leave than they used to a decade ago.

A more positive workplace setting is believed to provide encouragement and a sense of purpose. Great news for workplace wellbeing levels!

  • Managers/employers: this may take a spot of anonymous surveying, but it’s important to find out how your team perceives your workplace. You should also watch out for any hints of staff bullying, chronic negativity and/or low spirits. Also monitor your own actions to make certain you’re leading in a positive manner.
  • Employees: this may feel out of your control, however, you can also start with your own actions. Watch that you’re not using every chat as an opportunity to grumble, say please and thanks to your colleagues and try to respond to new ideas in an open way. Where possible, speak to a trusted manager or HR colleague if you have any concerns regarding the atmosphere for yourself or your colleagues. Of course, sometimes a fresh environment is also the best solution!

Further reading:

Managers looking to do more to increase their workplace wellbeing rates may also be interested to read:

  1. The real reason employees are calling in sick via HR News.
  2. Job insecurities are hurting your employees on People Management.


Employers intend to invest in their teams

Two separate surveys highlight employers’ plans to invest in their teams; regardless of their economic expectations…

Survey 1: employers set to invest in new employees

Source: REC

Our first survey actually comes from our accrediting body, the REC. Confidence in the UK economy appears ‘negative’ for its fourth consecutive month. In figure terms, this equates to a survey score of -14.

However, despite this, hiring and investment plans remain positive and have even increased by a percentage point over the past month. Taking this particular score to +16.

  • 48% of businesses looking to hire permanent employees are worried that there will not be enough candidates available (+6%).
  • Likewise, 53% of those hoping to grow their temporary headcount are concerned about sourcing enough skilled staff.
  • The marketing, media and creative sectors are among the most affected by the skills shortage.
  • Overall, the number of companies planning to recruit agency staff within a short-term time frame has increased by 3% since October (to a total score of +19).

Neil Carberry of the REC suggests Brits are displaying their ‘pragmatic best’ in spite of their wider economic concerns – and are set to ‘invest in their own businesses to meet demand’.

These attitudes clearly reflect those of other sources, as recently discussed.

Survey 2: employers will continue to invest in staff benefits

Source: The CIPD via People Management

Looking to the next two years, most businesses (97%) additionally intend to either maintain or increase their employee benefits schemes.

  • 81% plan to spend the same amount.
  • 16% intend to increase their spend in this area.
  • Businesses predominantly wish to focus on professional development benefits (43%), including mentoring and secondments.
  • This is followed by health and wellbeing incentives, such as sick pay (29%).
  • 25% will mainly focus on financial schemes, including pensions and debt-related advice.

Once again, these figures are deemed promising when considering external economic factors.

Charles Cotton from the REC praises businesses for their efforts. He says ‘spending in these areas can help improve employee performance, and ultimately corporate performance.’

The two news items are extremely closely related, with benefits packages also providing valuable staff attraction tools.

Benefits also appeared in our last post, as we explored which Christmas gifts employees most hope to receive.

Looking to recruit permanent or temporary staff? Call the office on 01225 313130. Candidates can apply for new jobs via the website, or upload a CV as a general applicant



How EQ could enhance your salary!

Why one particular year-old study could inspire you to work on your EQ! 

We recently saw a Guardian career piece pop up as a recommended read. The piece claimed that EQ (AKA ’emotional intelligence’ or ‘EI’) could be ‘the secret to a high salary’.

In order to reach this conclusion, the Amercian study explored students’ emotional intelligence and then tracked their career path over the coming decade. As you can gather from the above, the students with the greatest EI also had higher incomes.

How EQ increases earnings…

Essentially, the salary effect is achieved by understanding how others are feeling and then using this to ‘accurately motivate and influence their behaviour’. Although the idea of influencing others may sound sinister, it can also be highly positive.

The research showed that people with high emotional intelligence make many friends in their work, allowing them to tap into a wider knowledge base, which boosts their performance (and salary!).

It also proved positive from a people management/mentoring perspective, as high EQ workers are more attuned to the needs and feelings of others. Helping employees and mentees feel ‘heard’.

How is emotional intelligence actually defined?

You’ll find a full definition here. Really, it comes down to being self-aware and able to identify and help manage emotions – both your own and those of others.

Wondering how high your EQ is?

There’s no single specific EI test. However, Pyschology Today offers a fairly comprehensive free emotional intelligence test. They predict this takes around 45-minutes to complete. At the end of it, you then receive a percentage score and a brief overview; without so much as entering a name or email address. Anyone wanting to receive a full report with advice can then pay around $10 for it.

This isn’t to say everyone’s onboard with the EI-salary connection…

If you take another look at the original Guardian article, you’ll see it’s received over 90 comments. Many of which are highlighting the successes of people with questionable emotional intelligence levels!

There’s certainly truth in this, however, what’s the harm in working on your own EQ levels? Even if it doesn’t immediately (or ever directly!) increase your income, it offers many benefits.

Forbes discusses some of these.

Further reading for furthering your emotional intelligence!

  1. In a separate Forbes post, they share 5 ways to develop your EQ.
  2. Medium has an interesting question-filled article to help you to work towards a greater score.
  3. Balance also shared 9 useful steps.

One final EQ tip…read more and read differently!

Don’t only read the research and news articles that strike you as immediately relevant to your life. Get in the habit of seeing what’s happening in the world, and what other demographics are saying and feeling.

Recruitment news makes for a perfect example! There are so many studies which highlight what matters most to employees and employers, what professionals fear or strive for, the similarities and differences between different groups, and the steps we can all take to reach our goals. We publish many such stories on our News blog. Why not pick a post that you wouldn’t usually read and spend some time considering the emotions experienced by the news item/study subjects, how you feel throughout, and how you would express yourself in the given situation?

Get in the habit of doing this often and let it extend to the audio and social media that you also consume.



Overqualified at work? You’re not alone!

Are you overqualified for your current job? A government survey suggests that this statement may now apply to 2.5 million UK employees. That’s 8.7% of the national workforce!

The latest ‘UK Employer Skills Survey’ finds…

Which skills remain most required?

  • ‘Task prioritisation’ and ‘time management’ abilities remain most-in demand, contributing towards 59% of skills gaps, according to People Management.
  • The need for advanced or specialist IT abilities has fallen by 8% points between 2015 and 2017.
  • It’s reported that 76% of skills gap needs are ‘transient’ and will be resolved over longer-term employment and the completion of staff training.
  • That said, poor motivation (32%), lack of performance improvement (31%) and lack of required training (25%) are each contributing factors.

A note for your CV…

  • Take advantage of these new findings and ensure to demonstrate your prioritisation and time management abilities on your CV. ‘Demonstrate’ is the key word here! Don’t just write these skills down as filler words. Instead, find fitting examples to show how you’ve utilised these abilities within your recent roles. Illustrate this with stats, achievements and/or results wherever possible.

A word for businesses on managing overqualified employees:

  • These research findings call to mind an earlier post on the reasons that so many workers ‘shut off their minds’ in order to survive each working week. Noticed any team members that not being used to their full potential? Watch out for these people – and then find ways to challenge them with new projects and responsibilities.
  • If you’re unsure how their skills could be utilised, why not ask? These employees are such a great asset to your future business growth. Learning to spot talent opportunities within your existing team is also another simple way to enhance your staff retention rates.


What graduates want & how to attract them

What do graduates want to know about their first career opportunities? And what can local employers do to attract them?

We’re now just a few months away from the city’s graduation ceremonies. This naturally offers local businesses the chance to welcome the next wave of talent into their teams. Of course, it always helps to know what’s most interesting and concerning the students themselves.

People Management has delved into this topic; discussing the thoughts of more than 300 students…

Graduates want: to know more about their days

Students naturally want to hear more about the everyday activity that they could soon be a part of. This includes learning more about an average working day, alongside the company culture, ‘role challenges and highlights’ and their prospective employers’ expectations.

To achieve this: why not give interviewees the chance to meet with current staff members who can lend a true perspective? While you’re going to want to ‘sell’ your company, you still want to offer an honest insight. After all, if the graduate is successful, they’ll soon experience any challenges firsthand!

To take this further, you could offer to book the prospective employee as a temp. This would allow the student to ‘trial’ some aspects of the role – and give you the opportunity to see them interacting with the rest of the team. Temp-to-perm placements also work well here (and we can always advise on how to implement these!).

Graduates want: more career advice

The question of how employees first entered their industry has proved to be one of the most popular among students.

Graduates value insights into their future career paths, as well as being able to understand and ‘weigh up’ the differences between the opportunities presented to them.

To achieve this: again, offering access to your employees can make all the difference here. As can working closely with your recruitment consultant from the start of the graduate recruitment process. Let them know as much as you can about the specifics of the role that you’re recruiting for – as well as informing them of any in-house training and career development opportunities.

Graduates want: to know what you’re looking for from them

Not just your day-to-day expectations, as discussed. Yet rather the personal and professional characteristics that you’re searching for from your next recruit.

Interestingly, this question appeared 15 times more frequently than that of starting salaries!

To achieve this: it all starts with a great job specification. First, brainstorm the duties and goals of the role before considering which characteristics will help you to carry these out. Need some extra help? Your consultant can let you know whether there are any gaps in the details provided.

Also, as the article suggests, it’s helpful to get any line managers involved with this aspect. Ask them to relay how their team supports them and which personality traits make this happen.

A note to all students…

We recently reported on the fall in job optimism among graduates. This is an important topic for any graduates reading this post (and we’re pleased you’re reading it – we’d also want to know what our fellow students were looking for!).

For further advice on your graduate recruitment plans, please call an Appoint consultant on 01225 313130.