How can we promote well-being at work?

In the face of continuing low employee engagement, promoting well-being in the workplace is a priority. How can we renew our practices for greater efficiency?
Well-being in the workplace: how can we really promote it?
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Faced with a steady decline in employee engagement, it seems that a sports session, a fruit basket or a video game are not enough to make an employee happy and productive.

This obvious fact, confirmed by a study conducted by Oracle in 11 countries and involving 12,000 employees at all levels, is not, however, uniformly assimilated in our companies. In fact, 76% of managers, HR directors and senior executives surveyed believe that"the company should do more to protect employees' mental health". A clear observation that leads us to reconsider the measures traditionally implemented, which are sometimes more "cosmetic" in nature, to promote employee well-being. 

In this article, we propose a new way of promoting well-being at work and employee engagement, at the crossroads of data technology and personal development.

Well-being at work: an urgent issue to be addressed

What is well-being at work?

Well-being at work, in its pragmatic form, emerges when employees feel genuine consideration and connection with their work environment. This relies not just on material investments, but on solid human interaction. At Neobrain we believe that well-being at work transcends superficial politics to create an environment where everyone feels supported, listened to and selflessly involved in decision-making.

What are the differences between "well-being at work" and "quality of life at work"?

While well-being at work focuses on the emotional, psychological and physical aspects that contribute to an individual's overall well-being at work, Quality of Working Life (now called Quality of Life and Working Conditions) encompasses a broader range of elements such as interpersonal relationships, safety at work, work-life balance, equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as the ergonomic and physical aspects of the working environment. These 2 realities also depend to a large extent on collaboration between HR teams and managers, so we invite you to read our Guide on this subject.

Tandem HR Team - Managers

Today, more than ever, the question of quality of life at work in a company seems to be an absolute emergency, for several reasons:

The proliferation of psychosocial risks

They have been on the increase for several years, contributing to malaise in the workplace and a growing number of burn-outs. According to a recent Deloitte study, 77% of 10,000 employees surveyed in the United States said they had experienced a period of burnout this year. 

The mismatch between current rhythms and the wishes of new generations

By 2025, according to INSEE, Millennials will represent 75% of the world's working population. Their expectations have had a viral effect on the rest of the workforce: more autonomy in the organization of work, while retaining local management, a focus on the meaning of work, even if this means questioning job descriptions, and the distribution of tasks with a view to balancing private and professional life.

This crisis in the employee-employer relationship combines the consequences of a shortage of "king talent" and the unbridled acceleration of the commercial environment.

Uncertainty affects all professional spheres

Companies are shaken by crisis after crisis. Covid-19 gives way to slippery resignation... shockwaves that shake pillars crucial to corporate performance such as employee engagement and talent retention. How do you deal with them?

The uncertain economic climate and the complex challenges faced by management in maintaining the sacrosanct 'growth' agenda can also lead to management taking a short-sighted approach. Unable to find a miracle solution, they give priority to meeting shareholders' objectives through short-termist policies and frequent changes which impact on the confidence of their human capital.

The development of platforms and the "small jobs" economy 

The "Gig Economy" is exposing more people to telecommuting and hybrid working, a mode of organization that can have adverse consequences on health. Faced with these upheavals, HR decision-makers will be forced to rethink corporate culture in depth, with solutions that go beyond traditional measures such as implementing more provider-friendly policies, reorganizing workspaces, opting for the 4-day week or unlimited leave policies with strict rules.

Memo on the main levers of QWL

What are the sources of well-being at work?

Well-being at work depends on the ability of both company and employee to find a virtuous mode of interaction. This involves reciprocal involvement in activities that are in line with the aspirations, skills and priorities of both parties. 

The creation of this bond depends on a culture of feedback and rules that enable trust to be established in a spirit of total fairness with all participants in the organization's project. 

Here are the 9 things we think are most important: 

  1. Find meaning in your work and feel useful.
  2. Challenging assignments and opportunities for professional growth.
  3. Have adequate autonomy and a good match between skills and position.
  4. Receive employer recognition and constructive feedback.
  5. Cultivate positive working relationships, team spirit, mutual support, trust and respect.
  6. Have favorable working conditions, a manageable workload and a suitable environment, in addition to appropriate compensation.
  7. Maintain a balance between professional and personal life.
  8. Experience effective management, clear roles and processes, and transparent decision-making.
  9. Feel connected to the company and proud to be part of it.

What are the challenges of well-being at work? 

There are many issues linked to well-being at work, affecting both employees and organizations. They concern health, of course, but not only that. The same applies to talent retention and productivity.

Ensuring health for all 

The French Labor Code specifies that "the employer (must) take the necessary measures to (...) protect the mental health of workers", in particular "through information and training (...) and the implementation of appropriate organization and means".

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Act dates back to 1970 . Key worker rights include a safe workplace, hazard training, access to information, participation in safety programs, whistleblower protection and the right to refuse unsafe work. Employers have an obligation to protect workers from hazards and must not discriminate against those who exercise their rights.

Ensuring employee health is a priority. Absenteeism resulting from suffering at work has a cost: 108 billion euros according to a recent study by the Institut Sapiens. Not to mention turnover and recruitment costs.

Promote employee engagement and productivity 

According to the UK's Mind Foundation, 60% of employees feel more motivated by an employer who cares about their mental and physical health. 

How can companies show their support for the mental and physical health of their employees?

  • Open Communication: Encourage open communication on health concerns.
  • Training and Awareness: Make managers and employees aware of the importance of mental and physical health, and offer easy access to resources for managing mental health, such as advice and helplines.
  • Wellness programs: implement wellness initiatives such as meditation sessions and sports activities.
  • Crisis support: Establish protocols for support in mental health crises.

The ability to establish a relationship of trust (between employee and manager or company) is the key to boosting motivation and commitment.

Well-being at work: what are the current solutions? 

A number of solutions have been tested in many companies to make employees happier and improve their working conditions. With results that are more or less convincing and difficult to quantify. These include

  • Fit-out of premises and enhancement of the working environment (relaxation rooms, chair-free offices, collaborative or private spaces). 
  • Flexible working hours Encouraging employees to take part in sports activities, especially during lunch breaks Organizing social events such as seminars and drinks parties.

This is not to denigrate or praise these initiatives. However, they remain insufficient and serve more as symptomatic than substantive treatments.

As the INRS (Institut national de recherche et de sécurité) points out, well-being at work "requires (...) developing a posture of listening to employees on organizational factors recognized as having an impact in terms of RPS: the definition of tasks, the meaning of work, the distribution of the workload, relations between colleagues and with the hierarchy...".

Intuitive collaborative tools in the work environment 

Employees must be able to find a user experience at work worthy of the tools they use daily in their personal lives. Gone are the long processes and unnecessary paperwork that create more stress and frustration, the HR software environment as adopted by PWC is marked by its invisibility: it blends into the daily lives of all employees .

The need to go further in terms of well-being at work 

To foster the kind of listening necessary for well-being in the workplace, the company needs to put employee knowledge at the heart of its concerns. It must also help each employee to become aware of what characterizes him or her, and what drives him or her, in order to identify strengths and areas for development. This is the kind of culture that avoids silent quitting, provides a sustainable infrastructure conducive to employee development, and responds in a more targeted, individualized way.

HR data for wellness feedback 

With Neobrain, employees can have their say at any time, giving their opinions to proactively manage their development and performance.

This solution integrates artificial intelligence functions that reflect behaviors. The application is based on real-time data collection to foster a culture of listening and continuous feedback, so that everyone can progress, develop further and give their best in complete confidence.

This fluid, efficient and personalized approach for each employee or manager is transversal to the desired individualization of talent careers

How do you measure well-being at work?

Measuring the evolution of well-being at work goes beyond satisfaction questionnaires, and is based on the social criteria promoted by the Agence Nationale pour l'Amélioration des Conditions de Travail (National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions). This measurement activity takes into account social and labor relations, work content, the physical work environment, work organization, professional fulfillment and development, and work-life balance. Its assessment therefore requires the availability of data.

Here are our suggestions for concrete indicators to track

1. Equal pay indicators :

- Wage gap between men and women for equivalent positions.(Gender equality index).

- Percentage of women in positions of responsibility or management.

- Promotion and career advancement rates by gender.

2. Indicators of adaptation to the needs of workers with disabilities :

- Number of disabled workers employed.

- Retention and satisfaction rates for disabled workers.

3. Social protection indicators :

- Health, disability and retirement insurance coverage rates.

- Number of social benefits offered to employees.

4. Work-life balance indicators :

- Rates of teleworking and flexible working.

- Use of paid leave and parental leave.

5. Indicators of Hardship and Functional Constraints :

- Evaluation of the arduousness of workstations according to specific criteria.

- Absenteeism and sick leave rates.

6. Training and development indicators :

- Participation rate in vocational training.

- Improvement in the average level of skills

7. Satisfaction and retention indicators :

- Overall employee satisfaction: Employee Net Promoter Score and/or E-sat

- Staff retention and turnover rates.

8. Diversity and Inclusion Indicators :

- Percentage of diversity in terms of gender, age, ethnic origin, etc.

- Participation rate in inclusion and diversity initiatives.

These indicators can be used to assess the evolution of well-being at work, and identify areas requiring improvement to create a more fulfilling and balanced work environment for all employees. Neobrain implements these key criteria in a dashboard accessible on its "Performance & Engagement" platform.

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