Focusing on wellbeing for a productive workplace

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The EY Australian Productivity Pulse™ highlights that approximately one third of Australian workers have low or moderate wellbeing.

This is reducing their productivity and research shows that this group are also at risk of leaving work over the next decade due to wellbeing factors. It is estimated that low and moderate levels of wellbeing are costing Australian employers $12 billion every year1.

Challenges ahead

The next decade will present a new era of people challenges for organisations across the globe. Managing business growth is about ensuring a sustainable and productive workforce, however people strategies are often passed over and viewed as non-essential.

Over the last decade Australian businesses have introduced a broad range of initiatives including greater flexibility and parenting leave in response to a more competitive labour market and changing needs and expectations of their people. As growth of the labour force slows due to a declining working age population, keeping employees productive in the workplace for longer should be a priority.

Sustainable growth?

Attracting, utilising and retaining the right people is a key driver for long term growth. In order to do this, you need access to the right information:

  • Do you know what is limiting your employees’ ability to work at their best?
  • Do you offer employees a motivating and compelling career pathway that will keep them with you for longer?
  • Do you understand the different requirements of workers as they age?

Unfortunately, to answer these questions with any level of certainty you would need to observe your employees over a long time-period, measuring a wide variety of factors to figure out which are key.

The good news is that researchers have already done the ground work by observing tens of thousands of employees for over 30 years across a variety of industries. This research let them identify the key variables that predict a person’s likelihood of remaining productive and effective in the workforce for longer. They called this Work Ability.

What are the five factors required to assess an employee’s Work Ability?

Harnessing the robust science of Work Ability, EY has developed WorkSpan™. WorkSpan™ is a total workplace productivity and wellbeing solution designed to enhance employee utility and retention over the course of their working life. This can be achieved by understanding a broad range of factors that have been scientifically proven through 30 years of longitudinal study to determine our wellbeing at work. These factors are:

  • Family & Community – Connecting with the people around you and being part of something greater, something special. It’s about having close bonds with the people who matter most to you.
  • Finances –No matter what your life stage, your financial security is about taking control of your finances to ensure security now and into the future.
  • Health – Taking care of both the body and mind, or both your physical and psychological health, is critical to your quality of life and longevity.
  • Values –Understanding what motivates you to perform at your best and how your values align to those of your employer.
  • Work – Our work environment, including the people we work with, how we are managed, the structure and content of our job and the physical work environment are all important to wellbeing.

By using WorkSpan™ employers can identify the most important variables for engaging, motivating and retaining employees over the long-term, to directly address people productivity. WorkSpan™ is robust and predictive, allowing the identification of the workforce areas that require the most attention.

What are your objectives?

It is important to be clear on your objectives before your organisation considers any wellbeing program:

  • Increase employee engagement
  • Drive productivity
  • Improve brand in the market
  • Strengthen their employment value proposition
  • Reduce sick leave or wellbeing risks, or
  • Measure and improve the return on their people investment

For more information, please get in touch with your local EY contact.

1The EY Australian Productivity Pulse™ Wave 3 – November 2012

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