Mar 9th 2021

In talks with Wayve: How to increase wellbeing in the workplace

In the UK, poor mental wellbeing in the workplace costs UK employers up to £45 billion a yearand this was before the pandemic. Understanding wellbeing at work and putting in place initiatives to support this is in the interest of all businesses. It is an important step to improving your overall employer brand through the happiness of your employees. The promotion of employee wellbeing can help prevent stress and create a positive working environment where individuals and organisations can thrive together.

We spoke to Carolin Fleissner, VP of People and Culture at self-driving car startup, Wayve, who has recently been working on an extensive wellbeing strategy. She shared with us how you should approach wellbeing from three pillars that integrate and work together. Culture, education, and benefits. When these three are working in harmony, wellbeing becomes a subconscious choice. 

Dive into the initiatives you should take to encourage wellbeing in your business.  

Culture 

“Culture is powerful and can be used to simultaneously give businesses both a happier and higher performing team.”

If you have a burn-and-turn culture and speak in unproductive ways to each other, it doesn’t matter how many wellness benefits you put in place – you will be damaging people’s overall wellbeing. This negative approach to workplace culture will leave you with a high turnover, low creativity, and employee engagement. 

Here are three ways you can avoid this: 

Communication

How you communicate as a business will have a big impact on an employee’s wellbeing. You should communicate in constructive ways that motivate people and makes them more productive. Be sure to criticise privately and praise publicly. 

This includes setting clear expectations and goals for people to strive towards. Without a clear mission and regular updates on performance, employee satisfaction will decrease and they could suffer mentally. 

Leaders should be generous with their assumptions, removing blame and shame from their vocabulary. They should use a 5:1 ratio so that every constructive bit of feedback has five positive bits of feedback to counterbalance the effects.

Equity & Inclusion 

To combat loneliness and improve collaboration and productivity, we talk to people and not about people. We leave our egos at the door and do not think that anyone is less equal.” 

When people are lonely they are likely to burnout and your ability to retain them as an employee can reduce by up to 70%

To prevent this employee turnover rate, it’s important to focus on creating an inclusive workplace culture and celebrate the things that make people feel unique. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a key player in every company’s employer brand and not making this a priority can be very detrimental to not only your employees’ wellbeing but the success of your business. 

Studies show that diverse and inclusive companies are 87% more likely to make better decisions, 76% more likely to gain revenue from innovation, 70% more likely to enter new markets, and 30% more likely to be financially successful.

Workplace productivity

Encourage creativity with collaboration spaces. Office design is a powerful tool in lifting people’s moods and establishing productivity. Have spaces to be social and play because it allows room for relaxation, rejuvenation, and fun. This will help breed creativity and collaboration because the happier your employees are, and the better their wellbeing, the more productive they will be. 

Another way is to give your employees the control to work where and when they want through flexible working. Everyone is at their most productive in certain setups and at different times – give them the room to decide this for themselves. It encourages a healthier work-life balance and a business of high-performing employees. You do not have to be remote-first to achieve this either. 

Education

“Education is a way to be proactive so that you can prevent or help health problems before they get to a crisis stage.”

Most of the time people aren’t aware they are struggling mentally until it is too late. As a business, you must take the necessary steps to educate your employees on mental health and how to communicate problems effectively. It is then that they will learn how to not only help themselves but also help others. 

Here are three ways you can leverage effective tools: 

Resilience training 

Through training such as mindfulness, you can build your team’s resilience by reducing stress and workplace burnout. This practice of mindfulness increases focus and concentration, boosting your employees’ decision-making skills by helping them to make more rational decisions. 

You can look into platforms such as Tough Cookie who have online courses that help teams improve their mental resilience and also motivates them to practice by providing science and knowledge. This also gives the added bonus of connecting people across the company through learning. 

Leadership training

A lot of anxiety at work is often connected to people’s imposter syndrome. Those with imposter syndrome tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves and can often fall into a cycle of fear and anxiety. This negative mentality sucks any enjoyment out of success, affects overall productivity, and brings other colleagues down too. 

Experts such as Brene Brown, a vulnerability and shame researcher, can show your leaders how to encourage people to be vulnerable in a way that helps them to open up and learn they are not alone in their thoughts – and that most successful people have the same thoughts!  Embedding her research within your culture helps create psychological safety in the workplace and allows for more space for innovation.

Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”

Book clubs 

Book clubs are a great way to encourage further research and discussion into how the body and mind works. You can introduce books to people they wouldn’t otherwise have read, and in turn, everyone can hear about other people’s experiences. This will make people feel less alone and will strengthen the relationships and psychological safety within the team. There are platforms such as Learnerbly that can give your team access to a wide range of resources.

Benefits 

“At Wayve, we want to bring in benefits that employees didn’t have in their routine before. Benefits which drive social connection, community and strengthen teamwork.”

This is the final key to unlocking true wellbeing in the workplace for your employees. It is what potential hires will be looking for when they research a company and are key in your employer branding strategies. Providing your team with added benefits to their normal working lives will make your efforts to educate and create a strong culture that much more effective. 

Here are 3 key benefits you should look to bring into your workplace:

Mental health support

Businesses should make therapy accessible to ensure mental health challenges get addressed as early as possible. Check out platforms such as Spill whose mission is to make mental health more accessible by integrating it into slack. If you cannot get a budget for this writing up some resources on how to get access to help is a great initiative too. 

Group classes

Most businesses will have social budgets. But why not also have a certain budget per person where employees can use tennis courts, swim lanes and go climbing. Activities such as these are good for people’s physical and mental health, creates stronger relationships across the company, and improves overall productivity. Again, if you cannot get a budget for this you can access free online classes that your team can do together physically and/or virtually. 

Competitions 

You can gamify health with leaderboards for activities such as walking competitions with prizes at the end. Healthy competitions are a great way to encourage people to make positive long-term changes to their routine and increase comradery. The prizes could also support charities that align with your values. 

“You can’t get a hundred percent out of employees if they don’t feel a hundred percent.”

Employee wellbeing is a large contributor to high-performing companies and strong employer branding. It will help you to attract top talent but also to increase employee retention. Encouraging wellbeing in the workplace not only improves employee engagement and overall happiness but also leads to higher levels of performance and increased productivity. By combining initiatives to support the three pillars of culture, education, and benefits, you will strengthen team morale and create a healthy working environment that makes people want to be there.

As businesses grow, company culture can often get left behind. Check out our handbook to explore ways you can keep your company culture alive.