There has been a huge push towards corporate health and wellbeing over the last couple of years, which is a good thing.

A healthier workplace makes perfect business sense to reduce the cost of sick leave, stress leave, absenteeism and staff turnover. The ROI of such programs is reported as between $2 and $5 for every dollar invested, but on their own are not enough to drive engagement and productivity.

What’s also needed are ways to effectively address presenteeism, where there is clearly room for improvement in light of the observation that highly engaged workforces out perform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.
It’s about building healthier, happier workplaces. With talent retention a hot topic, what if your workplace also attracted great talent because it was recognised as being a great place to work?

One study has shown how health and happiness increased productivity by 12%. Health initiatives and nice perks such as having access to childcare, a good coffee machine and pleasant office surroundings add to job satisfaction, but elevating engagement and productivity comes from seeing progress in the work done and a feeling of belonging.

Let your people shine

In his book Drive Dan Pink reminds us that mastery, autonomy and purpose are the important internal motivators of behaviour. Having pride in our work, a sense of purpose and feeling valued makes us feel good.

This has the positive effect of boosting the immune system, reducing the risk of picking up any prevailing viruses circulating the office, and also elevates mood, energy, confidence, resilience, creativity and motivation.

Four things that boost this include:

  1. Providing autonomy for employees to show what they’re capable of.

    Encouraging employees to remove their trainer wheels builds confidence, increases attention and the intention for greater discretionary effort.

  2. Providing access to the right resources.

    This is about reasonable deadlines that allow time for good work, further training, career opportunities, certainty around expectations and support. This contributes to a succession of small wins, which is far more motivating than the occasional big win, and builds resilience to setbacks.

  3. Ensuring the work provides meaning.

    The job title isn’t what’s important it’s the perception of the value of the work provided. A hospital ward cleaner keeps patients and staff safe.

    We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

    A filing clerk provides order. Having meaning in our work makes us want to give rather than take.

  4. Providing positive constructive feedback.

    While mistakes and failures are quickly pointed out, less opportunity is taken to acknowledge what has been done well. By making feedback a regular conversation for self-reflection and discussion, this identifies what is going well, what isn’t, what would be done differently next time and makes feedback a positive opportunity to learn and do better.

Build better interpersonal relationships

According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of the variance between employee engagement scores across different business units. One of the most common reasons people quit their job is because of a poor working relationship with their boss or manager.

Showing people that you care, that you understand some of their difficulties and challenges and can empathise, not only shows you are human but someone who gets what matters to others. This builds loyalty, trust and the desire to contribute.

Find common ground

Spending time with your colleagues to find out more about who they are, more than just their name (though that's always a good place to start).

Create a sense of belonging

Collegiality is about feeling safe, sharing experiences and being part of the tribe. Wellness is an important first step towards higher-performance at work. But driving engagement and productivity also comes from addressing those human factors that lead to a more positive mindset and greater happiness at work.