A recent survey found that absenteeism directly costs employers in Australia approximately $578 per employee per absent day¹. With a 39% rise in stress, anxiety and depression related absenteeism within the last year², businesses are recognising healthcare as a worthy investment of company resources.
According to AccessEAP, a leading Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provider in Australia, the concept of workplace culture stems from the business owner or management team and encompasses many different characteristics of a business. It is present in the attitudes of employees, internal and external communication and a company’s values and also provides assumptions about what is acceptable within a workforce. A focus on improving workplace culture can lead to a variety of benefits including reduced healthcare costs, greater employee morale, higher productivity and engagement and less absenteeism.
CEO of AccessEAP, Sally Kirkright, says her company is seeing more and more businesses implementing strategies and programs to transform workplace cultures in order to foster healthy environments for their employees and also to benefit the business itself.
“With employee anxiety and stress levels on the rise due to longer working hours, and absenteeism having a significant implication to a business’s bottom-line, it makes sense that companies are doing everything they can to ensure their best employees are consistently playing at the top of their game,” said Ms Kirkright.
The State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia report by TNS and beyondblue, says that a mentally healthy workplace makes an employee more committed to their job and less likely to seek alternative employment.
“A healthy workplace culture reaches all employees in a range of ways,” says Sally Kirkright. “An individual’s emotions can have a significant impact on how people perform tasks, for example how engaged and creative they are. Positive emotions are consistently associated with better performance, quality and customer service.”
Here, Sally Kirkright offers some techniques and strategies for employers to improve workplace culture:
1. Build a strong team spirit
You need to build a sense of unity so employees don’t feel like they are working individually but within a supportive team. When working to create a healthy and positive culture of teamwork in any business, there is a need to establish trust among team members. This begins with learning to communicate effectively and to appreciate a colleagues strengths and weaknesses. Team bonding
experiences are a great way to initiate these strong relationships but it can also start with something
as simple as a workplace lunch.
2. Allow employees to work autonomously
Delegating tasks to employees is a great way to show you trust them. It provides your workforce
with more responsibility. To avoid micromanaging, which often decreases morale, be very clear with
instructions and let them know that you’re there for any support needed.
3. Give praise
Understandably, employees want to be praised for their hard work so let all your colleagues know
when you recognise their commitment. In fact, according to a Gallup study, managers that provide
little to no feedback to their workers will fail to engage 98% of them³. Feedback should always be
specific and constructive. This not only leads to stronger relationships, but also encourages everyone
to continue working productively as people naturally respond to incentives.
4. Encourage a work/life balance
The ability to achieve a work/life balance is becoming more difficult with longer work hours and the
expectation that you’ll always be connected. Maintaining this balance is not only important for one’s
personal health but also enables sustainable organisational performances. Understand that your
employees are managing a range of demands in their life including family and career responsibilities,
further education and personal health. This behaviour is learnt from the top-down so practise what
5. Contact your EAP
EAP’s offer expertise and support for culture changes at the individual, management and
organisational levels. A healthy workplace environment begins with well informed managers that
have been trained in leadership. Your EAP provides confidential support and guidance for managers
so they can have effective conversations with employees when faced with a mental health concern
within their team. This investment in your managers will not only help to maintain a positive culture
but will in turn make them great leaders for the business.
For additional information on what EAPs can offer and tips on optimising workplace culture, visit the website www.accesseap.com.au
1. AiGroup ‘Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015’ http://www.aigroup.com.au/absencesurvey
2. Direct Health Solutions ‘2015 Absenteeism Management Survey’ http://www.dhs.net.au/insight/2015-absenteeism-survey/
3. Gallop Inc. ‘Impact of Manager Feedback on Employee Engagement’ http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/124214/driving-engagement-focusing-strengths.aspx