A recent survey, estimates that absenteeism directly costs organisations approximately $578 per employee per absent day, which leads to an annual cost to the economy in excess of $44 billion.₁ With a 39% rise in stress, anxiety and depression related absenteeism within the last year₂, businesses are recognising healthcare as a worthy investment of company resources.
The concept of workplace culture stems from the business owner or management team and encompasses many different characteristics of a business. It is present in the attitudes of employees, internal and external communication and a company’s values and also provides assumptions about what is acceptable within a workforce. A focus on improving workplace culture can lead to a variety of benefits including reduced healthcare costs, greater employee morale, higher productivity and engagement and less absenteeism.
With employee anxiety and stress levels on the rise due to longer working hours, and absenteeism having a significant implication to a business’s bottom-line, it makes sense that companies are doing everything they can to ensure their best employees are consistently playing at the top of their game. We are seeing more and more businesses implementing strategies and programs to transform workplace cultures in order to foster healthy environments for their employees and also to benefit the business itself.
A TNS global study has found that a mentally healthy workplace makes an employee more committed to their job and less likely to seek alternative employment₃. A healthy workplace culture reaches all employees in a range of ways. An individual’s emotions can have a significant impact on how people perform tasks, for example how engaged and creative they are. Positive emotions are consistently associated with better performance, quality and customer service. This is a trend that we have seen across various roles and industries.
Here are some techniques and strategies for employers to improve workplace culture:
- Build a strong team spirit
You need to build a sense of unity so employees don’t feel like they are working individually but within a supportive team. When working to create a healthy and positive culture of teamwork in any business, there is a need to establish trust among team members. This begins with learning to communicate effectively and to appreciate a colleagues strengths and weaknesses. Team bonding experiences are a great way to initiate these strong relationships but it can also start with something as simple as a workplace lunch.
- llow employees to work autonomously
Delegating tasks to employees is a great way to show you trust them. It provides your workforce with more responsibility. To avoid micromanaging, which often decreases morale, be very clear with instructions and let them know that you’re there for any support needed.
- Give praise
Understandably, employees want to be praised for their hard work so let all your colleagues know when you recognise their commitment. In fact, according to a Gallup study, managers that provide little to no feedback to their workers will fail to engage 98% of them₄. Feedback should always be specific and constructive. This not only leads to stronger relationships, but also encourages everyone to continue working productively as people naturally respond to incentives.
- Encourage a work/life balance
The ability to achieve a work/life balance is becoming more difficult with longer work hours and the expectation that you’ll always be connected. Maintaining this balance is not only important for one’s personal health but also enables sustainable organisational performances. Understand that your employees are managing a range of demands in their life including family and career responsibilities, further education and personal health. This behaviour is learnt from the top-down so practise what you preach.
- Contact your EAP
EAP’s offer expertise and support for culture changes at the individual, management and organisational levels. A healthy workplace environment begins with well informed managers that have been trained in leadership. Your EAP provides confidential support and guidance for managers so they can have effective conversations with employees when faced with a mental health concern within their team. This investment in your managers will not only help to maintain a positive culture but will in turn make them great leaders for the business.
By building on an organisations strengths, EAP’s can help business owners develop and sustain a shared vision that promotes a positive culture, wellbeing and productivity across the whole organisation. Ensure that you’re getting the most out of your EAP, contact AccessEAP on 1 800 81 87 28 or visit www.accesseap.com.au
- AiGroup ‘Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015 http://www.aigroup.com.au/absencesurvey
- Direct Health Solutions ‘2015 Absenteeism Management Survey http://www.dhs.net.au/insight/2015-absenteeism-survey/
- TNS ‘ State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl1270-report---tns-the-state-of-mental-health-in-australian-workplaces-hr.pdf?sfvrsn=2
- Gallop Inc. ‘Impact of Manager Feedback on Employee Engagement http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/124214/driving-engagement-focusing-strengths.aspx