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Q&A with Chris Snookes, group head of marketing, products and markets, BHSF: In World Wellbeing Week, what does wellbeing actually mean?

As World Wellbeing Week draws to a close, we wanted to shine a light on wellbeing at work. While every area of wellbeing is hugely important in all aspects of life, it’s especially important in the workplace – we’re there nearly every day, after all!

We spoke to Chris Snookes, Group Head of Marketing, Products and Markets at our client BHSF, a not-for-profit health and wellbeing provider, helping to keep employees physically, mentally and financially healthy.

What is wellbeing and how important is it in the workplace?

“Right now, pressures in the broader environment, society and the economy, whether we are aware of it or not, do contribute to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression within the population as a whole. In addition many employers are still trying to understand and cater for the challenges that come with remote working whilst also embracing hybrid working models and greater flexibility, for example, an ‘always on culture’ and social isolation, as well as physical issues such as neck and back pain which are often the result of people not using the right chairs or desks at home or taking suitable breaks. We have noticed that many employers who understand the needs of their workforce are providing support in these areas more readily now as they recognise the benefits of having a healthy workforce.

We are also now in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. Financial stress is on the rise, leading to economic challenges as well as issues around job insecurity which contribute to strain on employee wellbeing. To tackle this, employers can offer resources and education to support staff financial wellbeing. At BHSF we have identified the need for early intervention when it comes to improving employee health and wellness. By addressing potential issues in their early stages, organisations can prevent the escalation and avoid long term consequences, be it physical, financial or psychological – all of which affect overall wellbeing and related work performance.”

How does BHSF support businesses to help them improve employee mental health and wellbeing?

“BHSF offer a wide range of services ranging from occupational health to employee benefits, health cash plans to employee assistance programmes. We provide fast access to GP services to address health issues, as well as financial support to minimise financial worries. Our services also include therapy and counselling options, a confidential, 24/7 helpline, referrals to specialists when necessary, mental health first-aid training and training for line managers, as well as awareness activities and materials. BHSF is dedicated to getting employees the best possible care, as quickly as possible, to help facilitate an environment where employers put employee health and wellbeing first.”

Why should businesses ensure wellbeing support is available at work?

“Sustaining employee wellbeing is an ethical and moral responsibility for employers; good businesses care about the wellbeing of their staff and make a conscious effort to prioritise it strategically and culturally. Businesses should be mindful that when their employees are feeling physically and mentally well, and stress is minimised, they show up to work as their best selves and are engaged, motivated and productive. In turn, long-term absence from work is avoided, coping skills are introduced to empower employees to build healthy habits, and job satisfaction is enhanced, leading to higher retention. Overall, providing wellbeing support helps foster a supportive workplace culture.”

What advice would you give to employers to help them support staff with their wellbeing?

“We would recommend a tailored, ‘you said, we did approach’ to providing an effective and considered employee wellbeing strategy. This involves talking to employees, listening to their requirements and implementing services that target the specific areas of wellbeing that need to be addressed, as opposed to implementing ‘one-size-fits-all’ schemes and strategies. Also, it’s important that employers ensure that the workforce is aware of the wellbeing services that the business provides to ensure effective use of the scheme by all employees that need the support.”

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