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Happy workers have dollar value for employers

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
16 November 2018 2 minute readShare
Happiness meter

The Australian HR Institute has released a report that explored Australian workplace wellbeing and the financial returns such initiatives can have for the business’ bottom line.

The ‘Wellbeing Lab 2018 Workplace Survey’, compiled in conjunction with the Australian HR Institute, delved into the issue of wellbeing in Australian workplaces.

It relied on a workplace survey of 1,002 Australian and found that most (37 per cent) are living well, despite struggles. However, an almost identical number (36 per cent) said they were “not feeling bad, but are just getting by”.

Just under one in five (19 per cent) said they were consistently thriving, while half that number (8 per cent) are “really struggling”.

Interestingly, those who claimed to be thriving were more likely to be men, and South Australians were more likely to feel this way than people in other parts of the country.

According to the report, wellbeing and resilience tended to be supported by:

  • Strong engagement and positivity at work
  • A sense of purpose in what they do
  • Greater autonomy over how they go about their duties
  • Various employee assistance programs and activities including the provision of fresh fruit, fitness activities and flu shots
  • HR teams that are viewed as a source of support

Conversely, factors that appeared to be undermining wellbeing included:

  • Less choice or flexibility in approaching tasks
  • A lack of internal support people and structures
  • Unsupportive or disengaged teams
  • Out-of-touch leaders

The report also posed the question of why workplace wellbeing is worthy of being measured, and noted that various studies have demonstrated a material impact on a business’ bottom line, including:

  • 70 per cent fewer safety incidents
  • Six times the level of employee engagement
  • Reduced turnover of anywhere between 24 and 59 per cent
  • 10 per cent higher customer ratings and reviews
  • 10 per cent higher average financial returns to company shareholders

“Wellbeing and work can create a mutually enhancing cycle. When we feel physically, mentally, and socially well, we bring more energy, focus, and motivation to work and are more productive, thereby creating positive outcomes for both workers and their organisations,” the report said.

“For example, research has found that for every dollar spent on improving wellbeing in workplaces there is, on average, a $2.30 positive return on their investment.”

It provided a range of measures that workplaces can adopt to become more focused on wellbeing and enjoy the returns this delivers:

  • “Incorporate multidimensional measures of wellbeing so you can be intelligent about the kind of support that is most likely to help different workers.
  • “Build a common language around the diversity of wellbeing and that people can live well despite struggles, making it safer to talk about what’s happening and ask for support.
  • “In addition to the 3Fs – fruit, fitness, flu shots – consider ways of supporting the 3Ms – meaning, motivation, mentoring – to help more workers live well despite their struggles or to thrive consistently.
  • “Draw on evidence-based practices to create shared, holistic, evidence-based toolboxes for workers, teams, and organisations to draw on that provide a range of easy-to-use wellbeing tools that can be incorporated into busy workdays.
  • “Support leaders and HR teams to step up as sources of wellbeing support and/or coaches in workplaces by explicitly making supporting and improving workers wellbeing one of the responsibilities for which they will be held accountable.”

“You don’t need to be a wellbeing expert, just be honest about what you’re learning, your hopes for the future, the support you may need, and open up the space for others to do the same,” the report concluded.

A separate international study recently found that business-related travel is also a significant booster of work satisfaction (while simultaneously where people tend to take more risks).

Happy workers have dollar value for employers
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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