Workplace Wellbeing: the effects of burnout and businesses that are paving the way

Photography, 2degrees.

Why employee wellbeing is becoming increasingly important in New Zealand workplaces.

When we achieve a sense of well-being in the workplace, we are more likely to be motivated and effective, and stay in our jobs for longer. Feeling valued, rewarded, and listened to helps maintain a thriving workplace and a culture of success.

Skills Consulting Group’s 2022 Work Wellbeing Index shows that more than 50 per cent of employees who feel as if their wellbeing is not being prioritised are likely to look for a new job.

Kiwi businesses scored 61/100 for overall wellbeing, and with many New Zealand companies beginning to prioritise wellbeing, there is a heightened pressure for those who aren’t doing better.

Losing staff can have a huge effect on employers – the cost of recruitment, finding new staff, and a loss of productivity.

As New Zealand transitions back to a country that is ‘open for business’, there needs to be a willingness from businesses to adapt to the new normal.

For many, flexible working is crucial with 12 per cent of Kiwis saying it is their largest driving factor of wellbeing in the workplace. Employers may be looking at offering more flexibility in hybrid working if they want employees to stick around long term.

Jane Kennelly, general manager of wellbeing at Skills Consulting Group, says the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the need for flexibility.

“Covid-19 has blurred the line between home and work and has opened up a brand new pathway for flexible working environments and how people can be trusted to do the work from home and still perform,” says Kennelly.

Employee wellbeing is the bottom line of a successful company, so right now companies are faced with ignoring employee well-being and paying the price; or embracing it and reaping the rewards.

Jane Kennelly, general manager of wellbeing at Skills Consulting Group

Burnout – an issue that can’t be ignored

Burnout is the number one issue faced by employees at their workplace, with Skills Consulting Group’s Work Wellbeing Index research showing that 37 per cent of New Zealanders have experienced or know someone who has experienced burnout in the workplace.

The importance of wellbeing is amplified for those who have experienced burnout.

Kennelly emphasises that programmes need to be put in place by companies to show genuine care and destigmatise mental health issues and burnout.

“Burnout is such a huge factor, it is massive. It is the number one issue certainly through all our research in the last few years. But burnout will continue in organisations that don’t actually look at how they structure a person’s work,” she says.

Kiwis need to feel encouraged to ask for support when they are feeling burnt out, says Kennelly.

“It’s not just a one-way street, it’s actually a two-way street. I think it’s really healthy for employees to be asking for support if they need it.”

Embracing drivers of wellbeing and prioritising wellbeing culture can lead to New Zealanders being more satisfied in their careers, which means less burnout, higher wellbeing, and higher satisfaction.

Achieving these in a work environment is a step forward in creating the best and healthiest working environment possible for Aotearoa.

What businesses are doing well?

WELL v2 is the first rating system to focus exclusively on the impacts of buildings on human health and wellness. The standard is a vehicle for buildings and organisations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being. Expanding upon the foundation created by WELL v1, the certification aims to inspire diversity in future building projects.

2degrees sets an example for how New Zealand’s leading corporates can approach their office spaces, recently becoming the first company in New Zealand to achieve WELL V2 Certification.

The company shaped its approach around staff support, hoping to provide people with a real incentive or purpose to come into the office.

2degrees offices

The office space features telco-enhancing across the two levels that measure CO2 levels every three seconds, which supplies real-time data on the current dust, VOC, humidity, temperature, and CO2 levels. The lighting was designed to intentionally elevate circadian rhythm by maximising natural lighting with the building having a high window-to-floor ratio design and an atrium in the middle.

Sound mapping was also introduced to supply acoustic performance to staff and support diverse ways of working by maximising the usability of each space. Along with this, activity and movement are encouraged through restorative areas for mediation.

These steps set a new standard, showing that businesses can aspire to create spaces that enhance – rather than hinder – health and wellbeing.

Ben Blakemore, Head of Property at 2degrees, shares that the company received positive employee feedback on the new build.

“We’ve seen a really healthy build in the numbers of people choosing to come back in and the things that they are coming back for. They’re just loving reconnecting with everybody when they come back,” he says.

2degrees is passionate about the importance of healthy indoor environments.

“We spend 90% of our time indoors, it’s a lot of our time, and it really can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing. The great thing about the WELL certifications is it shows us scientifically backed evidence between what we are experiencing in indoor environments, and how that’s affecting our health and wellbeing,” says Blakemore.

“The physical office that we’ve created shows that we’re taking a really progressive view on what is the purpose of an office and how it supports staff to thrive when they choose to come in (to the office).”

Prioritising workplace wellness through the environment can be simple, he says.

This can include locating staff next to windows, giving them better access to natural light, making sure there’s good ventilation, or providing access to a view of nature and plants.

Many other Kiwi businesses are also prioritising workplace wellbeing through environmental innovations.

Earlier this year, plantscaping business Outside In completed New Zealand’s first large-scale interior plant-scaping project for litigation firm, MC (Meredith Connell).

Meredith Connell offices

The project was inspired by the Waitakere Ranges, with a native bush feel inside the office. The office aims to create a rejuvenating and restorative space for staff to recharge their internal batteries, connect to the outdoors and encourage movement and activity.

This achieved a 6 Green Star rating WELL v2 precertification, through prioritising an environment that fuels and inspires the employee’s best work.

Ryan McQuerry, Creative Director at Outside In, says that the project with MC was a result of the team’s dedication and passion for merging nature and design.

“We thrive on designing bespoke solutions that integrate nature purposefully into the workplace. All of our team – from designers to fabricators and installers through to our service team – are so thrilled to see our hard work bring this landmark project for New Zealand to life.”

Globally, Bacardi celebrated achieving the internationally recognized Great Place to Work® certification at all its production sites worldwide, Its Global Operations team of almost 4,000 employees praise the family atmosphere, positive work-life balance, and exceptional facilities.

The certification follows the recent news that Bacardi has been named by Forbes as one of the “World’s Best Employers”.

This achievement shows how wellness in the workplace is important across the board, not just in one location or site.

The Hilton is another global company setting an example achieving top hospitality company and the second spot in fortune’s 2022 Best Companies to Work For®.

Offering many perks and benefits, the Hilton was the first hospitality company to partner with innovative wellness startup, Thrive Global, in recognition of the effects of burnout, fatigue and stress.

These innovative programmes and perks position the Hilton as another global leader for workplace wellbeing.

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