As surprising as it may seem, there are benefits we can draw from experiencing a crisis like the one we’ve all just been through. Not least, the realisation of what really matters. This pandemic has only further reinforced interest in well-being at work, an issue that has been bubbling up for several years now.
As a business leader or team leader, wellbeing is a concept that should be seen as crucial to your operations. But for many of us, it’s a vague term at best, which doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate the importance or impact on your team members’ productivity — and therefore the quality of your service. You probably have ideas about what could make your work environment more fulfilling… but without necessarily knowing what actions to take to reach this goal.
In this article, we aim to give you some concrete measures that can significantly boost the wellbeing of your team at work. In addition to practical advice on how to adapt these measures to your establishment, so that your staff — and also your customers and clients — feel the full benefit!
Wellbeing at work: the stakes are high in the health and hospitality sectors
If we have learnt one thing from talking to healthcare and hospitality professionals, it’s that they are at the forefront of important changes to the idea of wellbeing at work. Indeed, staff in health and social care and hospitality venues alike are particularly affected by work-induced psychological conditions and workplace accidents.
This is due to overly stressful working conditions more often than necessary. On top of this, clients, patients, and customers are constantly more demanding, and rules for complying with regulations are ever-changing (especially during the COVID-19 crisis). According to a study published in November 2021, 71.9% of UK health and social care workers reported moderate to severe levels of work-related burnout. In restaurants and hotels, 55% of employees feel demoralised, and many complain that they have had to deal with aggressive customers. Incidentally, The European Union Occupational Health Agency survey of 2014 ranks dealing with difficult customers as the single largest psychosocial risk factor in care work.
These punishing working conditions can have a long term negative effect on the quality of your service and there is a direct correlation between guest dissatisfaction and staff satisfaction. But they can also have a considerable impact on the management of your establishment, and even its viability in the long term. Unhappy staff inevitably lead to an increase in staff turnover, but also a drop in staff productivity. And let’s not forget the eye-watering price of all these work-related accidents (up to £2.8 billion in health and social work, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), accounting for 17% of the total cost of work-related injuries — the highest of all industries in the UK).
These are just a few reasons why it is crucial to pay attention to the wellbeing of your staff at work, and why you should act now to improve it.
Survey your teams and implement measures for tangible improvements in wellbeing
Wellbeing at work can seem like a rather vague concept, but in reality, its existence is tangible and unique to every workplace. To realistically improve your working conditions and make your employees happier, it is therefore important to take steps to evaluate your current resources. Make sure any improvements take into account your standard practices and the general functioning of your healthcare or restaurant business.
The NHS’ Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group provide useful resources for measuring and improving health and social care sector workers’ wellbeing. These resources can, of course, be applied similarly to hospitality. In addition, the HSE suggests surveying your teams to identify areas for improvement. After all, consultation is a two-way process. Listening to how your staff experience risk during their working day can allow you to better consider their needs and expectations. Then, you can appropriately put in place precise measures to address specific issues.
For example, develop a questionnaire for both staff and management to fill in, to identify disparities in how each individual perceives their role. Based on the final score, you can better prepare your QWL (Quality of Working Life) changes by brainstorming ways to eliminate hurdles or sources of friction. At the very least, this will help you take the first steps to increase well-being at work, by concentrating on the areas that need to be improved.
Well-being at work and quality of service: the main challenge for health and social care businesses, restaurants, and hotels
Preparing the groundwork like this allows you to implement measures that increase your staff’s well-being at work and lead to an improvement in the quality of service. As mentioned earlier, these two factors are closely linked, but can often be a contradiction of one another. For the measures that you take to be effective and stand the test of time, it is important to pay attention to this.
This is especially true when it comes to performance. A QWL process requires real investment from the business owner. Management support is also vital, as managers may not always feel permitted (or even have time) to carry out the process. To avoid losing steam early on, it can be good to start with initiatives that you may already have in place and adapt them to how you would like your future company to look. It can be better to start on a smaller scale, so the QWL process doesn’t feel too complex or all-consuming. Experiment, for example, within a clearly defined scope, what’s possible and what isn’t possible for your business.
In some ways, the idea of wellbeing at work can also conflict with the level of service provided to service users. In the health and social care sectors, for example, empathy towards patients can expose healthcare staff to the risk of emotional burnout. A Community Care report insists on the importance of involving health and social care workers in future improvements to their care facilities, to increase retention and ultimately maintain high-quality provisions.
4 practical tips for improving your team’s wellbeing at work
Now that we’ve laid the foundations, you can start implementing concrete measures to boost your employees' well-being in the workplace. While the right solutions for your business are unique to you, here are four avenues for you to explore!
1. Reimagine your company’s organisation to avoid overloading staff
Work overload or carrying out repetitive tasks are some of the principal factors that can encroach on your employees’ wellbeing at work. To improve this, you can start by redistributing tasks more suitably, which will give your staff some breathing room, and avoid tension between workers.
A first and very simple solution would be to call in some backup. Brigad puts you in contact with independent workers to reinforce your teams, especially when your business experiences short-term increases inactivity. You can create your mission on the platform in just a few clicks, and Brigad puts everything in motion to find you a profile that suits your needs — we even automatically generate the necessary paperwork.
You could also think of ways to optimise individual team members’ work. If some of your employees are carrying out repetitive tasks, maybe implement a rotation system. You could also suggest a working buddy scheme, so certain tasks become less tedious, thereby improving sociability in the workplace. This will also improve productivity, by creating a bond between colleagues and contributing to team cohesion.
2. Optimise workspaces and better equip your teams
Improving working conditions within your company is also about creating a safe and enjoyable space in which your employees can work. You would be surprised by the impact that simple workspace changes can have in making certain tasks less strenuous and even avoiding workplace injuries.
Think of the cost that this might yield as a long-term investment. A recent study by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) showed that for every Euro invested in health and safety at work, there is a return of €2.20.
The good news is that there is no shortage of ways in which you can optimise your space with wellbeing in mind. In the restaurant industry, for example, a simple sitting/standing stool behind your establishment’s bar or reception desk would considerably improve the comfort of your front of house employees. For hotels, electric bed lifts would reduce your housekeeping staff’s fatigue and musculoskeletal complaints.
More globally, try setting up a welcoming break room, or simply reimagining your establishment, taking into account the amount your staff move around - this has a direct impact on their quality of life at work.
3. Evaluate management approaches and move towards a more caring environment
Another key to wellbeing at work is the quality of the relationships that unite you and your teams. How you oversee their work has a considerable impact on their satisfaction, and by extension, their productivity.
For several years now, in all sectors of the economy, the benefits of a more caring management style have been proven. The simple fact of putting the human element back into your processes, and listening and taking into account employee expectations, can deeply change the way your establishment works.
This transition allows you to not only involve your employees in decisions that concern them but also boost their engagement in the life of your organisation. It can also help reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. And, even better, it can help build confidence, and inspire your troops to take initiative and be creative!
Sometimes, it doesn’t take a lot to implement a more participative management style. Simply listening, giving positive feedback (and acknowledging employees’ effort and involvement in their work), or fielding for input, can help foster a healthier and more fulfilling work environment.
4. Train your staff to help build their skills and make them proactive towards their wellbeing at work
In order to feel good in their jobs, your employees also need to feel like they have all the necessary resources to accomplish their tasks correctly. A lack of control over this is, incidentally, considered one of the main causes of professional burnouts.
Training is an excellent way to give power back to your teams. And it could be in subjects that you would never have imagined. In careers as physical as care and service, we forget all too often to consider our bodies. However, poor posture and inadequate lifting techniques are among the principal causes of accidents in the workplace, especially in hospitality.
Learning modules on correct lifting positions, stress management, or even workshops on addiction (a problem that affects up to 1 in 4 employees in this sector) can help you minimise the harmful effects of a big rush or a busy season.
In healthcare careers, training about handling emotions can be very pertinent. Empathy is, after all, one of the main qualities of your staff. But it can also expose them to a higher risk of emotional exhaustion. Learning to recognise and manage emotions will allow your team to digest them and build strength from them.
Start a conversation about wellbeing at work and follow up on the effects of what you put in place
Beyond the importance of these concrete measures to improve the quality of life at work, your priority should ultimately be to engage in meaningful discussions and exchanges with your teams. In order for them to be happier, and therefore more efficient, you should think of your QWL process as a permanent work in progress. Show that you are available and open to listening to your employees’ needs and worries!
Don’t forget that better wellbeing at work also means closely monitoring the implementation of these initiatives and measuring results. For support in making these changes, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. For example, a QWL consultant can help you carry out an audit and target the right levers for progression.
In addition, think about calling for backup to avoid overloading your teams and protect them from burning out. Brigad puts you in contact with a community of more han 15,000 qualified freelancers who can meet your temporary staffing needs. Trust us — create your first mission and find that rare gem!