While this year has certainly had its ups and downs, it’s taught us many lessons along the way. 2021 threw us curveballs and uncertainty, and we went from merely surviving to thriving as we started to put a greater focus on wellbeing than ever before. 

While wellbeing has always been at the forefront for us at Springday, it’s been incredible to see corporate wellbeing step into the spotlight this year. With the pandemic having changed so much, wellbeing has become an essential component of the success of any and every business. Why? Because businesses that invest in the wellbeing of their employees see a return in increased productivity, engagement and retention, just to name a few. We’ve seen these results not only in the number of people engaging across our platforms, but we’ve also had a record year in the number of businesses we work with.  For this, we’re truly grateful.  

So, what are some of the biggest wellbeing lessons we’ve learned this year at Springday?

1. Maintain positive work relationships

Strong social connections within a workplace can be a key ingredient to improving emotional wellbeing and workplace productivity. Unfortunately, 2021 didn’t exactly make it easy for us to maintain strong work relationships, as much of the year was spent in lockdown for the majority of our workforce across Australia and NZ. 

At Springday, we kept our work friendships alive while working remotely through weekly virtual catchups and new traditions, like starting our all-team meetings with an activity or game. These activities ranged from dance-offs to bingo, charades to workout challenges, and we’ve continued this tradition now that we’re back in the office. Having fun together during these activities helps to inject a little bit of fun into the workday, which is great for improving social wellbeing and also encouraging creativity and collaboration.

2. Re-evaluate your job design

This year has led many employees to re-evaluate their work-life balance, and many people have decided to leave their jobs to find an employer that gives them more flexibility. Many workplaces claim to be committed to improving the wellbeing of their employees, yet still expect their staff to be working 12-hour days or responding to work emails late at night. 

In order to retain staff, while also making their wellbeing a priority, you might need to re-evaluate your job design. If the role requires people to be working unsustainable hours or create stress inherently, re-visit the actual job scope. At Springday, we’ve seen clients use data from our wellbeing surveys to evaluate and improve job design. Minor shifts such as not expecting people to respond to emails instantly or not open their computers on the weekend can make a big difference.

3. Implement a wellbeing strategy

I’ve talked about how employee wellbeing has been in the spotlight more than ever this year, but beyond just learning about the importance of a wellbeing focus, we’ve also learned that employee wellbeing needs to be more than just a few randomly selected wellbeing initiatives scattered here and there. Wellbeing is more than just a tokenistic ‘recharge day’.   To really put the wellbeing of your employees at the forefront of your organisational culture, you need to have an informed strategy. A strategy takes an integrated approach that supports the wellbeing of your employees day-to-day, year-round, and is imbedded in all of your business decisions.  

4. Proactively offer flexibility

The pandemic has forced many companies to give their staff more flexibility, as working from home arrangements became a new norm. The key takeaway for us has been to keep this flexibility, and actually make it a priority to accommodate the needs of our workforce, understanding that this looks different for everyone.  

Proactively offering flexibility has helped improve engagement and increase productivity within our organisation, while also fostering a culture of trust and safety. Even prior to the pandemic, at Springday, we’ve always let people take time off as and when they need it – without the need for a medical certificate or having to justify why.  

Post-lockdown, we’ve introduced a hybrid model, where employees work from home as well as in the office, and they’re also free to choose not to come into the office if that’s what they would prefer. We’ve learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, so allowing our employees to choose a flexible work approach (that still works with our business needs) has helped us to best accommodate their requirements as individuals. 

5. Show employees that you appreciate them

Employee retention has been in the spotlight more than ever this year due to the Great Resignation, as millions of people have been voluntarily leaving their jobs. Springday held a free thought leadership webinar this year with Paul Kelly, CEO and Founder of the Channel Group, where we discussed the Great Resignation, and how to turn it into the Great Retention. We talked about the importance of creating sustainable practices that will build a better workplace culture that, in turn, will optimise employee engagement and retention. 

One of the simplest ways to increase employee retention in your workplace is through the recognition of your employees. It’s an innate human desire to want to feel valued. Recognition plays a critical role in this and goes well beyond than the usual paycheck. At Springday, we celebrate all company wins, both big and small. We do this through small gestures of appreciation done regularly, such as taking a staff member out for a coffee or by saying a simple “thank you” or “great work on that project”. I give team members shout-outs in our all-team meetings to recognise all their hard work. These little gestures are done frequently, so they’ve become an integral part of our company culture.  

Last but not least, there’s no need to overcomplicate wellbeing – we see too many people and businesses get bogged down in the intricacies of how to design a strategy and often overthink the whole piece. Wellbeing is all about making people happier and healthier, and while there’s no guaranteed formula for that, the key is to get started! So, if you feel like this year has gotten away and you haven’t quite achieved everything you wanted, fear not, it’s okay! As always, we’re here to help any organisation (big or small) empower their teams to live happier and healthier lives! 

On that note, I wish all of you a very relaxing and happy holiday season. Looking forward to a very successful 2022! 

Dipra Ray, 

CEO, Springday and mPort