In today’s turbulent economic environment, businesses are struggling for survival. Employers and Human Resource Practitioners in Ghana can all attest to the fact that employees are pivotal to the survival of businesses. Survival of businesses depend on employees’ ability to contribute value continuously to business success and to meet the needs of customers. In turn, the employee’s ability to contribute value is directly related to their wellness or wellbeing. Hence for employees to contribute continuously to the success of a business, their health and wellbeing must be a priority for every employer. Promoting the health and well-being of employees is a sure way of building competitive advantage.
In the wise words of William H. Lever, Founder of Lever Brothers: ‘If we leave the human factor out of our business calculations, we shall be wrong every time.” Business leaders, board of directors, and Human Resource practitioners in Ghana must clearly understand the employee-wellness-and-work-behaviour equation. Aligning an Employee’s wellbeing to the organisation’s strategy can represent a key competitive advantage for companies that get it right. Employee Wellbeing is that aspect of an employee’s overall welfare that is determined by one’s workplace environment and can be influenced by various workplace interventions. It covers numerous facets of the way employees feel about their lives, jobs, and their relationships with the people around them, mainly supervisors, managers, and the overall leadership of the organisation.
There are several arguments to the effect that an employee’s wellbeing includes their own character and home or social life along with the workplace and therefore the employer should not carry the additional burden of catering for the wellbeing of an employee. Others have argued that they have implemented well-crafted Employee Engagement strategies yet productivity remained same and in some cases declined significantly despite the heavy investment in Employee Engagement initiatives.
One way to curb this inconvenience is to know specifically what the health and wellness cost drivers are for your employees. Sometimes, all that is needed is Emotional Intelligence (EI) to help resolve issues of employee health and wellbeing. Human Resource practitioners must take the time to engage their workers and get to know what is important to them, how they feel about issues, and know how to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
For instance, some companies, in their ingenuity and to help deal with the emotions of employees have provided mood boards to help staff state exactly how they feel at a particular point in time. While this helps to keep employees engaged, it is also a way to gauge the general mood of a department or an individual and devise ways to deal with it expertly.
In a bid to help employees deal with emotional issues and to get the best out of them, HR can put psychologists on their payrolls, whose role will be specifically channeled at addressing employee’s emotional issues.
Additionally, HR practitioners can identify employees who have high Emotional Intelligence and put them on committees to help deal with employee issues. Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health, job performance, and leadership skills.
Every organisation has health related risk issues among its workers. This has a huge potential to negatively affect productivity, customer satisfaction and business survival. Developing an employee health and wellbeing management plan of action that includes Emotional Intelligent quotients, appropriate health risk assessments and interventions are critical. In the least, it informs employees that management is concerned about their general wellbeing.
Mentions have been made of Emotional Intelligence: it is therefore important to understand the concept and its importance.
I am sure we all know people, either at work or in our personal lives, who are really good listeners. No matter the situation we find ourselves in, they always know what to say so we are not offended. Even if we do not find a solution to our problem, we usually leave feeling more hopeful and willing to consult them the next time.
There are also those who know how to manage their emotions and are seldom angry. They have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.
We say that people like this have a high degree of Emotional Intelligence. They know themselves very well, and they are also able to sense the emotional needs of others.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise your emotions, understand what they are telling you, and realise how they affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively.
As more people accept Emotional Intelligence is important to professional success as technical ability, organisations are increasingly using it in their recruitment and hiring processes. For example, one large cosmetics company recently revised their hiring process for salespeople to choose candidates based on their emotional intelligence. The result? People hired with the new system have sold, on average, $91,000 more than salespeople selected under the old system. There has also been significantly lower staff turnover among the group chosen for their Emotional Intelligence.
In a situation where employees are highly engaged, productivity tends to be very high and as such, employee burnout is likely to be very high as well. In such a situation, employees are likely to leave the organisation. Where employee wellness is low, presenteeism is much more evident. Presenteeism is where an employee is present at work but for the sake of illness is not able to function fully or perform fully his or her responsibilities at work. HR must be emotionally intelligent and train other staff to be as well.
In his book titled “Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” 1995, Daniel Goleman, an American Psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define Emotional Intelligence:
Self-Awareness (understand their emotions, know their strengths and weaknesses)
Self-Regulation (the ability to control emotions and impulses)
Motivation (motivated and willing to defer immediate results for long-term success)
Empathy (the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you)
Social Skills (easy to talk to and like people, team player)
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. HR professionals must be well versed in the use and application of the following strategies:
Observe how your employees react to customers and clients. Do they rush to make judgment before they know all of the facts? Are they stereotypical? Look honestly at how they think and interact with other people. Try to put yourself in their place, and be more open at dealing with the issue.
Look at your work environment. Sometimes, we need to get off our high horse. When you practice humility, you say that you know what you did, and you can be quietly confident about it. Give others a chance to shine – put the focus on them, and do not worry too much about getting praise for yourself. Analyse your employees individually to ascertain their ability to do this. It will encourage teamwork and better bonding.
Do a Staff-evaluation. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve their strengths and manage their weaknesses? Are they willing to accept that they are not perfect and that they could work on some areas to become better?
Examine how they react to stressful situations. To lead well is to lead by example. Do you become upset every time there is a delay or something does not happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it is not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – in the business world and outside it. How do staff respond to stressful situations?
Examine how your actions will affect others – before you take those actions. If your decision will impact others, put yourself in their place. How will they feel if you do this? Would you want that experience? If you must take the action, how can you help others deal with the effects?
In an attempt to improve your company’s competitive advantage, you should educate managers and employees on the importance of Emotional Intelligence to the overall wellbeing of the company. There is also strong evidence to show that having a healthy workforce can reduce sickness absence, lower staff turnover, boost productivity, and improve customer satisfaction and the survival of an organisation.
Pursuing total wellness in the workplace goes beyond a healthy workplace culture and should include knowing the issues that affect their wellbeing outside of their health. Encouraging thriving relationships between management and employees, as well as positive relationships amongst employees, could also be a way of improving employee’s emotional health.
Their productivity could be affected based on the assumption that they may be sacked at any time. Another example is when an employee senses hostility in the work environment. As a business leader, manager or supervisor the onus lies on you to sense such hostilities in the workplace and work towards offsetting it.
The wellbeing of employees could be threatened when there is some friction between colleagues at the workplace. A major part of being emotionally intelligent as an HR manager or a leader in the workplace is fishing out problems in the workplace that are caused by worker interactions or relations. Again, it is necessary to know how to handle such situations, being careful not to demean any worker or wrongly offend anyone.
Through the lens of HR, the employees’ emotions and wellbeing should be a priority in corporate strategy. This goes a long way to determine the survival or otherwise of a business. Investing in Employee wellbeing initiatives and interventions can lead to greater resilience, innovation and productivity in organisations.