Linking financial difficulty and mental health at work

A recent research project by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, sponsored by SalaryFinance, sets out the case for employers to provide practical support to employees experiencing financial difficulty, and how this could boost the mental health, wellbeing and resilience of their workforce.

The analysis found a clear link between financial difficulties and poor mental health. Not only do 45% of UK employees report at least one sign of poor mental health, but those with money worries are 50% more likely to report signs of poor mental health that affect their performance at work.

The research found that even less intense financial strain can have an impact on both wellbeing and productivity. 41% of employees who identified themselves as financially comfortable reported at least one sign of poor mental health. However, this number rises to 51% for those just about managing and to 67% for people in financial difficulty.

This is perhaps not surprising when considering the fragile financial situation of a large proportion of the UK workforce. Nearly 17 million working age people across the UK have savings of less than £100, meaning that something as simple as an unexpected repair bill can create a significant issue. Those with lower credit scores will often pay higher interest rates, exacerbating the issue and triggering a cycle of problem debt.

The consequences on an individual’s ability to work caused by financial worries include struggling to concentrate, losing sleep, feeling additional pressure and reduced motivation.

The results highlight a two-way street between concerns about money and mental health, suggesting action to improve financial resilience and alleviate problem debts could play an important role in preventing mental health problems in Britain’s workplaces.

The report suggests actions that employers can take to alleviate these issues for their employees:

  • Boost short term savings: Access to savings of just £1,000 could protect half a million households from problem debt.
  • Support access to affordable credit: Over half of the research participants suggested that the provision of affordable credit products through payroll would have helped them.
  • Foster financial capability: Access to financial tools and apps can help people manage their money more successfully.

The full research report – Overstretched, overdrawn, underserved – can be found at: www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/financialwellbeingatwork/

The Many Benefits of Pet-Friendly Workplaces

There are many studies attesting the benefits of having a pet friendly work environment.

According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer 2016 survey, pets in the workplace can help:

  • Work-Life balance
  • Lower stress and absenteeism
  • Reduce guilt about leaving pets home alone
  • Boost morale
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve relationships among co-workers
  • Positively impact group dynamics: team-building/bonding
  • Increase loyalty to company

Allowing pets in the workplace can create a real competitive advantage. It’s a fringe benefit which is increasing in popularity as more companies bring it to the table in a bid to recruit top employees, especially millennials.

According to research by Purina PetCare, 42% of workers aged 18-34 across the UK enjoy, or would like, a dog-friendly workplace; 25% say it would make a company more attractive to them.  Such are the benefits that 28% of working millennials would give up other perks, such as yoga or gym membership, in exchange for dog-friendly policies.

Having dogs in the office goes beyond making the owners happy. A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that (where dogs were present) stress declined for dog owners and non-dog owners alike. In contrast, stress rose for dog owners who left their pups at home, and for non-dog owners working in a non-dog friendly environment stress also increased. This has been further backed up by research published by Central Michigan University.

Employers Leading The “Pet Friendly” Way

Google

Dogs are allowed daily inside the offices of Google:

“Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture,” the company’s code of conduct says.  “We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”

Facebook, Amazon, and Ben & Jerry’s

Amazon even has dog biscuits available at the front desk and dog friendly water fountains scattered throughout the Seattle campus.

Nestlé

Through the Pets At Work (PAW) programme, led by Nestlé Purina, Nestlé Gatwick has become the first Nestlé HQ worldwide to become dog-friendly.

The programme forms part of Nestlé’s Health and Wellbeing agenda, with a recent survey by Purina revealing staff are happier and healthier when able to take their pets to work. Results showed 47% of 18-24 year olds view bringing a pet to work as a work perk.

Other Purina survey finds included:

  1. Happier and healthier staff (34%)
  2. Dogs get to spend more time with their owners (30%)
  3. Increased socialisation (28%)
  4. Encourage more physical activity (26%)
  5. Employees less likely to suffer from depression (20%)
  6. Dogs get to socialise with other dogs (18%)
  7. Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels (17%)
  8. Increased engagement and motivation (14%)
  9. Helps break the ice when talking to senior staff (10%)
  10. Helps break the ice when talking to an office crush (9%)

Thinking of implementing a #PetsAtWork policy?

If inviting dogs into work is something you are considering be mindful of those who do not like dogs. Planning must account for anyone who might be uncomfortable around dogs, be sure to include dog free areas.

Check out this free downloadable Toolkit from Purina Pets at Work Alliance for more tips.

Author – Gerry Molloy CEO / Founder www.WoofAdvisor.com

Keeping Employees Engaged This Summer

For many organisations employee engagement and productivity can decrease at this time of year. Summer months mean summer holidays, erratic working hours and a distracted work force. Here’s a few ideas to help keep your team engaged when there’s so much distraction:

  1. First Day of Summer Freedom – A common moral boosting benefit is to give employees the freedom to leave work the first day of the year that it reaches 20 degrees. This is a cost-effective way of lifting everyone’s spirits.
  2. Free Summer Fridays –In a recent article, USA Today said that of 200 employers surveyed in the USA, 42% were offering Summer Fridays this year. That being either Friday’s off or half days. If you notice your team lacking focus on Friday afternoons this could be something worth considering.
  3. Offer Flexitime – Make life easier for your employees by offering flexible hours and the ability to work from home one or two days a week. A May survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that 39% of workers are looking for flexible schedules at this time of year. Allowing employees to create their own work schedule facilitates all important family time and supports a better work life balance.
  4. Sports Day/Summer party – Remember sports day in school and how excited everyone got? Try this out within the company. Hire a local sports ground and arrange mini tournaments – three-legged race, potato sack races, five aside etc. Include food and drinks to make it a full-blown Summer party.
  5. Surprise them with Ice-cream: It’s an easy thing to do, in a small company just grab an ice-cream for everyone and surprise them during their working day. Larger companies, book an ice-cream van to visit the offices. It’s a clever way to bring a little joy to the workplace.
  6. Summer Dress Code – This won’t be suitable for every industry but if possible relax the usual dress code to allow for more casual and comfortable attire. Tried and tested by global leading tech companies this is a cost free Summer per that could make a real difference to employee attitudes.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take the company pulse so you know what your team are thinking. Meet for performance check-ups or use pulse surveys which provide invaluable feed-back and offer managers a great opportunity to stay ‘in-the-loop’.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit

Recognition “Trumps” Rewards

As employees, we love to be appreciated. Even those of us who love our job for what it is, we still like to get that pat on the back every so often to acknowledge that we’re doing it well. The World Health Organisation says that this recognition is “one of the most important factors which increases motivation and satisfaction”. Studies repeatedly show that praise and feedback have a greater impact on employee performance than pay-by-performance incentives, yet a 2015 study published by Achievers found that 57% of employees surveyed didn’t feel as though their progress at work had been recognised. In an increasingly competitive market, establishing a progressive culture and strong employer brand is vital to attracting and retaining talent. According to Forbes, companies which scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” had a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate than those who didn’t. On the other side of this, a lack of recognition will reduce productivity, diminish performance and negatively impact employee engagement.

Historically, manager-to-peer recognition has been considered the most impactful, however, with changing corporate dynamics and a more cross-functional workforce, it is now considered that peer-to-peer recognition has a greater effect on employee performance. That’s not to say organisations should choose one over the other; any good recognition and rewards (R&R) software will facilitate multiple options, as well as a host of other features to help organisations enhance their culture. Here are the top six features you should keep an eye out for in an R&R software:

Top R&R features and why they matter

1. Setting Company Values & Behaviours

Is the most important one! It’s the primary feature which allows employers to strategically support the ethos and values of their organisation. Enhancing culture is a fundamental function of workplace recognition programmes, but without an ability to define company values, the benefit is almost obsolete. Not all R&R providers offer this feature, so it is worth taking the time to research who does and how it works.

2. Employee-to-Employee Recognition

Even though there is significant research to indicate that peer-to-peer recognition has a positive impact on performance, this capability is lacking from most R&R software on the market. Facilitating peers to thank one another creates a culture of teamwork.

3. Manager-to-Employee Recognition

A fundamental feature, and one which comes as an industry standard. Allowing managers to recognise positive contribution for specific tasks and projects improves moral and supports the work culture of progressive companies.

4. Rewards

Not all providers offer a reward facility, and only a handful offer peer-to-peer rewards. Rewarding is a great feature, but be sure the software you choose includes ‘manager controls’, so reward values are set by management and approved by team leaders. This control does not come as standard from most providers but is important to maintain fair play. We’ve all heard horror stories around this type of feature so take the time to understand how the reward process works. Be sure to also check what rewards will be available; there’s no point having a reward catalogue that doesn’t appeal to your employees.

5. Social feed

Making employee recognitions (and rewards) visible company-wide reinforces the associated psychological benefits. A handful of providers offer this; some can even facilitate liking and commenting to encourage further peer-to-peer interaction.

6. Analytics

Any R&R software worth its salt should make the lives of HR managers easier by facilitating comprehensive reporting and analytics. Company-wide data and team drill downs should help employers to see trends and identify values or behaviours which are not being supported by employee contribution and provide vital data for improved talent management.

The list goes on. Your R&R program could also include niceties such as being company branded, mobile optimised, or cloud hosted, and with varying designs and user experiences. Take the time to research which suppliers offer the most comprehensive solution!

To find out about Wrkit Recognition & Rewards speak to our team today – info@wrkit.com

Author – Peter Jenkinson, Director of Business Development, Wrkit.

Exploring The Benefits Of Yoga At Work

In recent years yoga has become increasingly popular in the western-world. It’s an ancient physical and spiritual discipline (and branch of philosophy) which originated in India almost 5,000 years ago. So, what is drawing westerners towards this practice?

There can be several associated mental and physical benefits to the individual which include;

  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved blood flow
  • Increased bone strength
  • Posture correction
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress and better regulated adrenal glands
  • Improved balance
  • Better sleep quality
  • Boosted immune system
  • Increased fitness
  • Decreased headaches
  • Improved focus
  • Enhanced confidence

These benefits are increasingly recognised by medical professionals the world over. Since the 1970s, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, have been studied and applied as treatments for depression and anxiety.

According to the World Health Organisation by 2021 occupational stress will be the leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism, overtaking lower back pain. When you take into consideration the above list of ‘yoga benefits’ there is a strong case for implementing yoga as part of a corporate wellness initiative.

Implementing Yoga at Work

For years, free or supplemented yoga classes have been a staple benefit in many organisations. However, often to avail of these classes employees are required to commit their own ‘free time’ which in itself limits potential attendees.

To maximise company-wide benefit, morning yoga or work day ‘desk yoga’ should be encourage. Like traditional employee stretching programs this routine time allocated yoga should form a mandatory part of the working day.

The stretching aspect of yoga will help reduce lower back pain, improve blood flow and correct the posture of employees. These physical benefits are important to people in all roles, be desk and field based. The added mental benefits; reduced stress, improved focus, enhanced creativity, and better sleep quality contribute towards tackling the ever increasing problem of employee stress.

Before putting office yoga to action make sure to do some research. Decide the best time, the best type (seated or standing) and be sure to consider any physical restrictions your team may have.

For some inspiration check this out:

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.

10 Tips To Successfully Launch A Wellness Tool

Launching a new employee engagement tool or benefit can be challenging for organisation of all sizes. Wellness programs are no exception to the rule and often they can be more challenging when it comes to engaging employees

Having a well-defined strategy to; raise awareness, initiate company-wide engagement and maintain ongoing participation, is essential to ensure success. Here are some basic actions any company can take:

  1. Set Mile Stones – In an ideal world your wellbeing program will see 100% uptake in the first hour, however this is unlikely to be the case. Work with your service provider to determine achievable milestones. Be realistic and define what actions will be taken to ensure targets are met – regular competitions, site visits etc.
  2. Launch With A Bang– It takes some planning but having an onsite launch event makes a big difference. Use it as an opportunity to educate employees – what is the new tool, where do they find it, how will it benefit them etc. If you have a disparate workforce don’t be put-off, annual company conferences or gatherings also provide a great opportunity for a similar launch.
  3. Make It An Occasion – Balloons, a celebrity guest speaker, a health food cooking demo or a wellness festival; whatever you decide to go with, make sure it’s applicable to your entire workforce. The more memorable the event, the more memorable the wellbeing tool.
  4. Prizes and Incentives – Incentivising employees always works wonders. Keep it relevant to wellbeing and try to offer multiple prizes to keep interest peaked. If possible use the tool/program as a method of entering the competition. For example, registering before a certain date or participate in a set number of yoga classes.
  5. Communication, Communication, Communication – Once a decision has been made to implement a wellness program, be it an EAP or a jogging club, communication is key. Use a mix of printed collateral; posters, banners, fliers etc. distributed throughout your offices. Support offline comms with online comms – email, IM promotion, company social networks.
  6. Wellness Advocates –These super heroes are an invaluable asset when it comes to launching new health programs. Every company has employees who are passionate about health and wellbeing. Identify who your most avid supports are and set-up a health and wellbeing committee. Introduce your advocates to the idea of the wellness program before rolling it out and then encourage them to promote the program to their co-workers.
  7. Some Friendly Cross Department Competition – It’s important for managers and senior level executives to lead by example. Make it competitive, set a target which means the heads of department must promote the tool to their respective teams.
  8. Introduce A Quarterly Wellness Week –Plan a twelve-month strategy to maintain and reignite interest. Dedicate one week every quarter to promoting an area of wellbeing and get your advocates and department heads involved in these too.
  9. Introduce The Tool During On-boarding – When someone new joins your team it is important that they are made aware of and engage with the tools you have on offer. Creating the right habits around this from the start can make a big difference and ensure ongoing engagement.
  10. Make Your Managers Accountable – It is almost impossible for a HR manager to communicate in person with every employee. Making managers accountable for communicating with their own teams gives a direct route to share the message face to face without over stretching the HR department.

There are lots of ways a company can internally promote its benefits but it takes a level of commitment and strategy from both the provider and the organisation to ensure successful engagement.

Our Customer Success Managers are experts at launching new employee benefits and over the last twelve months we have tested various strategies when launching our wellbeing tool – POWR Life. Our approach is to work with our clients, understand their workforces, and develop a plan that will deliver the highest impact with ongoing engagement.

To speak to our team about POWR Life or other Wrkit modules, contact us today – info@wrkit.com

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.

Employee learning: An investment worth making

The value to the employer

According to Bersin by Deloitte “companies with high performing learning environments rank in the top for employee engagement”. It’s not surprising then that in this year’s 2017 Deloitte ‘Human Capital Trends’ report employee learning moved up into second place as a concern for employers world-wide.

A new generation of workforce has brought with it new expectations. The concept of a career has changed and the influence of technology is driving organisations towards flexible, anytime learning. Changing demands are expelling historic myths about L&D investment while employee learning opportunities are increasingly contributing towards a strong employer value proposition.

Massive open online courses

In their 2016 report Deloitte sited massive open online courses (MOOCs) as an increasingly prominent learning tool being provided by employers. This type of learning environment helps to meet the demands of a millennial workforce; on the go learning that will “allow employees to build skills quickly, easily, and on their own terms”.

MOOC’s offer more to the employee and employer than simply improving professional skill-sets. The diversity in the course content also allows employees to develop their personal interests, enhancing the emotional connection between employer and employee and boosting overall engagement.

MOOC’s are usually a very cost effective way of providing employee learning opportunities, and accreditations can come from hundreds of leading universities. They are the most convenient way for employees to balance work, life and learning. Don’t be fooled into thinking a busy workforce will have no time for learning, if companies provide the correct tools learning will seamlessly integrate into the lives of their workforces.

Wrkit flexible learning solutions

Get in touch to find out about our flexible learning solutions – info@wrkit.com

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.

Big Cinema Savings Employees Will Love

A favourite source of entertainment

According to the Independent.ie, Irish people are the most avid cinema goers in Europe, with almost five million viewers in the first quarter of this year. However, it’s an increasingly expensive source of entertainment. In 2015, the nationwide average price for a cinema ticket in the Republic of Ireland was €6.94. While in the UK ticket prices have been steadily increasing over the past number of years from an average of £5.95 in 2010 to £7.41 in 2016. When you factor in the cost of popcorn and drinks the cinema can become an expensive night out.

The dream discount for Cinema lovers

With our Cinema Plus offer employees in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can utilise discounts of up to 40% at leading cinema chains. Launching earlier this year, Cinema Plus UK saw almost 1,500 orders made in the first quarter, a clear favourite among our users. With Summer holidays just around the corner and big movie releases such as; Despicable Me 3, Bay Watch, Wonder Woman and Pirates of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge all coming soon, this discount is one that every employee will love.

Getting Cinema Plus for your employees

Cinema Plus is the most recent addition to our employee savings portfolio. This product is included in the list price for the Wrkit Discounts and Savings module. This module also includes hundreds of exclusive offers from big brands and local retailers including restaurants, holidays, everyday savings, and luxury items. Offering employees savings on their everyday living expenses benefits their financial wellbeing, contributing to overall engagement and job satisfaction.

Talk to us today to find out more about this and other modules – info@wrkit.com

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.