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The Big Question – issue 460

The importance of finding a balance between working patterns and personal life has never been in sharper focus. And, as the countdown continues to the next International Week of Happiness at Work in late September, companies are again being urged to take meaningful steps to support staff. Against that backdrop, what are the key measures you believe businesses should be concentrating on to ensure workforce wellbeing and happiness?


OOK Agency


Managing director
HR Alchemy

Co-founders, Alchemy Culture

Positive work culture is more than perks and Google-looking offices, and keeping employees happy requires more than just a pay slip.

People today crave a deeper sense of connection to their work, the place they live and the brands they choose.

They expect more of employers than ever before, and want businesses to demonstrate a greater integrity, accountability and care.

It is essential businesses understand this and how, in a landscape of cross-generational workforces, that company culture is a critical framework for teams to operate in harmony.

The ever-growing research into wellbeing and company performance shows it has a significant impact on numerous areas of business performance.
We know low wellbeing results in higher levels of absence; indeed, a recent study shows mental ill-health and stress to be the top two causes of long-term absence in UK workplaces.

It’s also one of the reasons employees quit their jobs.

On the flip side, though, is the positive, mounting evidence that demonstrates investment in wellbeing is achieving results.

And through OOK Agency, HR Alchemy and our workshop programme Alchemy Culture, we are helping clients create more authentic ways

of managing their employee brand proposition and thus wellbeing.

We help companies take meaningful steps, by moving their values, ethos and overall culture towards investing in their people.


Chief executive

We focus on ‘work-life fit’, which is the concept of a colleague’s work and life needing to fit together, rather than the more traditional view of a work/life balance.

To me, work/life balance suggests some sort of circus act, whereas ‘work-life fit’ is focused on making the two aspects fit together perfectly.

Providing flexibility is essential.

Empowering your team to choose when, where and how they work can significantly contribute to their overall wellbeing, and it also means they can make the right choices for them and their own personal circumstances.

Nurturing a sense of purpose is crucial too.

When colleagues understand how their contributions make a difference and are continuously encouraged to set and achieve stretch goals, they are more engaged in their work, and the journey towards achieving these goals becomes a source of fulfilment and satisfaction.

Finally, recognising the importance of social connections is vital.

Businesses should encourage regular opportunities for colleagues to come together and connect.

Whether through team building activities,
social events or collaborative projects, fostering a supportive and connected work community positively influences wellbeing and happiness.


Co-founder and chief operating officer

The health and wellbeing of the workforce has never been more prevalent, and it includes an effective application of a balanced environment, including hybrid or working from home.

The key to making this a success is an open
and transparent dialogue between employer and employees, to ensure staff can benefit from flexible working and the business can still operate efficiently.

We have recognised none of the above can be fulfilled without implementing a culture of trust within the workforce.

Best-selling author and workplace culture expert Simon Sinek has proven employees are happier at work when they have autonomy to make decisions on
their own.
For this to be successful, though, businesses must

provide employees with targets that will have a real impact on the organisation while developing the individual’s skillset.

Ultimately, the flexibility of being able to pick the kids up from school or playing at your local sports club can all be achieved.

But at the core of a work/life balance is a happy workplace, which involves having a great amount of responsibility and trust between employees and employers.


Chief people officer

What people want from a workplace has changed since the pandemic.

People are prepared to give their all for a fast- tracked career, but on the condition they can work on their own terms and are compensated fairly for it.

They will no longer stick around for the promise of salary increases or promotions that never happen, because they now want more than that in return: they want a healthy work/life balance.

At durhamlane, we’ve been taking measures to support this by providing fast-tracked sales and marketing careers, helping employees gain skills they can use anywhere in the world at any time, with full trust to do the role when and how it suits them.

We also offer fully remote or hybrid contracts, with limited expectation on office attendance.

And we allow life to happen when it needs to, by accommodating those who need compassionate time away from work.

We measure success by reviewing employee satisfaction data, such as our overall Employee Net Promoter Score.

By offering formalised flexibility, a competitive salary to support a stable and healthy lifestyle, and strong leadership, we’ve seen how you can gain loyalty and increased retention from your workforce.

September 12, 2023

  • Ideas & Observations

Created by North East Times