Eppione co-founder and CEO David Kindlon explains why workplace wellness strategies should be ‘realistic and continuous’.
David Kindlon is co-founder and CEO of Eppione, a Dublin-based company that helps organisations leverage technology to manage HR and employee benefits. The firm works with employers to expand their offerings to employee benefits programmes and to communicate these benefits more clearly to staff.
According to Kindlon, one in four people are affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives and because we spend the majority of our lives at work, this is something that shouldn’t be ignored.
“It is not just physical wellbeing that needs to be considered, but also emotional, financial and social wellbeing,” he said. This can benefit both employees and employers, Kindlon added, as robust wellness strategies impact performance and lower the chances of burnout.
“A healthy workforce means that people are physically and mentally well to perform better at work,” he said. “In fact, highly engaged teams show 21pc greater profitability than those who are unengaged.”
As wellness becomes more of a priority for jobseekers, workplaces are facing a wake-up call. In Ireland, Kindlon said, employers are beginning to take more action. “However, I think there is still a lot more work to be done by employers in Ireland and the UK to look after the wellbeing of their employees,” he added.
Employee benefits could include anything from health insurance and pensions to flexible working options, and Kindlon emphasised these are some of the things that are crucial in both attracting and retaining staff.
‘A way of life and a journey’
You might be familiar with a new trend among companies termed ‘Wellness Day’, where any number of activities in support of mental health take place. These can be a great reminder to staff to be mindful of both their own wellbeing and of those around them, but Kindlon said that one day a year won’t always suffice.
“Wellness is a way of life and a journey of improving your health, body and mind,” he said. “Despite some employers hosting wellness days, this isn’t something that can be improved in just 24 hours.
“Companies need to look at the bigger picture and should look at implementing an effective wellbeing strategy. A sensible wellbeing strategy starts with intention. The first step is to fully engage with the importance of wellbeing and appreciate its value.”
Steps to effective workplace wellness
Kindlon provided some steps companies can take to implement an impactful wellness strategy. First, he discussed recording and reviewing absences to help identify trends in reasons given.
“Be as specific as you can, if you’ve got the data there, use it to give people what they need,” he said. “Endeavour to get to the root cause of the issues, rather than addressing the symptoms.”
Second, Kindlon highlighted the importance of “building an environment that promotes health”. “Employers should identify a wellbeing group of champions to organise events and motivate people to get involved,” he explained.
“Having a team to support management will help direct people to the most appropriate services or benefits that they need. Managers need to encourage employees to watch out for one another.”
Third, employee benefits should also be seriously considered by employers, he added, such as subsidised gym memberships, financial education and employee assistance programmes. “It has become a duty of care for companies to now offer certain aids,” he said.
The impact of technology
Kindlon believes that employers need to be aware of how advances in technology are affecting workplace wellness – be it positively or negatively.
One area to be mindful of, he said, is how it has become harder for employees to “switch off”. He explained that employees are now easily able to “check their emails through their phone at any time, including when they are on annual leave”.
To mitigate the negative impacts of this, employers should think about measures that can be put in place. “Overall, I think technology offers huge benefits when it comes to helping with wellbeing strategies through wearable fitness, fitness apps, mindfulness, nutrition and financial apps, for example,” he added.
A realistic and continuous strategy
One of the most important things to keep in mind when taking steps to better workplace wellness, according to Kindlon, is “strong communication”.
“By checking in on your employees regularly, they will tell you what they are happy and not so happy with. A starting point would be to meet one to one with employees and ask them how they feel their work environment could improve.”
In addition to clear communication, Kindlon stressed how a wellness strategy should be “realistic and continuous, and employee wellbeing should be at the core”.
‘A sensible wellbeing strategy starts with intention – the first step is to fully engage with the importance of wellbeing and appreciate its value’
– DAVID KINDLON
“Employee benefits are a key component in wellbeing and allow you to show your staff that you care. If budget is an issue, consider offering ‘soft’ benefits, such as days off for birthdays, access to discounts for retail and leisure or discounted gym membership.
“A big issue in today’s workplace is stress due to having to work set hours and being unable to work around these hours during certain life events. If it’s possible to allow flexible working to allow employees to work around appointments and parent-teacher meetings, for example, this can certainly help relieve some stress for employees.”
And that stress relief can be critical to a company’s success, Kindlon added. “Better wellbeing improves employees’ moods, communication, productivity and self-esteem and has long-term benefits,” he said. “Organisations stand to benefit from placing more focus on wellbeing in the workplace as it creates a better environment and will increase productivity.”