Workplaces are going beyond traditional health and safety requirements for their employees and emphasising more holistic wellbeing, with mental health and financial wellness new areas of employee benefits being offered by employers, says Sally Elson, MYOB’s Head of People Advisory and Talent.
It’s no surprise that mental health is a key concern for small business owners. The latest MYOB Business Monitor shows around 75 per cent of small business owners experienced mental health concerns related to running their business in the past year. Around a quarter of the respondents now offer wellness initiatives for their employees, something we expect will increase in the coming years.
Even before the disruption of 2020, the Employee Experience team at MYOB were looking beyond traditional offerings of employee ‘perks’ like gym memberships and free food toward more holistic wellness offerings that provide benefit for employees, particularly in a more flexible working environment.
In the same way that health and safety in the office has evolved beyond a first aid kit of band-aids and bandages, employers of all sizes are now looking into more ways to support their team in terms of their mental and financial wellbeing.
Some of the ways we have expanded our wellness offering can be adapted to small businesses that also want to add real value to the employee experience and increase meaningful support for their team.
4 ways to support workplace wellness
Evolve to meet new challenges
2020 was a year of tremendous upheaval, including increased remote working for many, changing government restrictions, business and border closures and the financial and emotional impact these had on Australians. At MYOB we recognised we needed more ways for our team to access different kinds of support, and those that centred around a physical workspace, such as hosting in-person events, would be less relevant. This led to us exploring new possibilities that don’t rely on physically gathering, such as online events, video updates from leaders and emphasising available benefits that occur outside the workplace, such as financial benefits.
Talk to your team
The best way to find out what employees want is to ask them. A survey is an effective tool to ensure you’re focussing on high impact activities. The participation and response from internal surveys provided the basis for our current wellness offerings. When it became clear that financial hints and tips would add value, we introduced a financial wellness hub via our partnership with FlareHR.
Team members can easily access financial benefits such as free financial coaching, access to retail and technology discounts as well as discounted offerings from banks, health insurance agencies and even online exercise subscriptions. At MYOB we also have a training module specifically designed to help improve individual financial wellness, focussing on managing your cash flow and setting financial goals. Small businesses may be able to extend some of their business relationships for employees’ personal use too – such as travel insurance or discounted hotels or flights.
Recognising that one in five Australians will experience a mental illness, MYOB now has more than 50 team members accredited as mental health first aid officers across Australia and New Zealand, reducing the barrier to mental health support in the workplace. While not replacing professional assistance, mental health first aid is designed to make it easier to seek help from a workmate, and for trained team members to assist where they can and refer to professional services where appropriate.
There are many free tools available for small business owners, such as the Smiling Mind Small Business program, as well as ways to support the mental health of their employees. Workplaces can take part in a month of mindfulness, group meditations or similar, to promote healthy minds in the workplace.
Make it easy to access
Think about when and how your employees might need or want to access these resources. As with other elements of the MYOB Employee Experience, our aim is to have information on employee wellness available for team members to access as and when required, which they can do in their own time and privately if they wish. This is something small businesses may want to consider.
Once you have your wellness offering, make sure employees are aware of, and can access, what’s available – discreetly if necessary. Ensuring your team are well supported in terms of all aspects of their wellness.
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