Last year one of the most popular articles from my weekly column for the Western Mail examined happiness in the workplace and the growing realisation by many organisations that a failure to look after your workforce could impact performance and profitability.

And this important issue of wellbeing in the workplace looks set to continue with many organisational analysts suggesting that it will be one of the key trends affecting business in 2018.

In fact, with one in six workers being affected by anxiety and depression, this is becoming an issue not for individual organisations but for the UK economy as whole.

This is not surprising given that there is increasing evidence of high staff turnover in a growing number of industries that is being caused by high levels of stress and burnout amongst employees.

In the past, most of the emphasis by organisations has been on the physical wellbeing of their employees through programmes such as gym memberships, subsidised bicycle programmes and encouraging people to walk more.

However, there is a growing realisation that the mental wellbeing of staff is just as important in ensuring that they are happy and content within their jobs, and I expect this to be one of the key issues in the workplace over the next 12 months.

And in a world where there is a constant search for the best talent, a dedicated in-house corporate wellness programme will increase a firm’s reputation for caring for its employees and support any future recruitment and retention strategy.

That is why organisations have developed a range of different interventions to engender greater job satisfaction, including work yoga groups, better working environments and meditation sessions.

Other wellbeing trends that may well make a real difference in the workplace in 2018 include sit-stand desks, which means people are no longer sedentary for a long period of time; digital detoxing where employees are encouraged to disconnect from technologies for a period of time every day; and workplace naps with workers encouraged to take the 20-minute power naps that have been shown to reduce stress and increase productivity.

More importantly, an increasing number of organisations will begin to integrate mental and emotional wellbeing into performance management indicators, especially if it can be shown that the return on investment into such programmes can lead to increased competitiveness.

There is also a drive to encourage greater flexibility in the workplace with the realisation that efficiency is not correlated with being chained to a desk from 9 to 5 every day. Indeed, this whole issue of work-life balance has been shown to be an issue for many millennials when looking for a new job, many of whom are more task-oriented than time-oriented.

And this is no longer an issue just for big corporates and small firms, in order to be competitive in the future and to attract and retain the best workers, are also looking to develop a culture where their employees will thrive and contribute to the business.

Given this, it was heartening that Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), recently emphasised the need for small firms to make wellbeing a priority in 2018 and for entrepreneurs to consider introducing changes to improve it in their business.

These included them taking a lead in the business to help destigmatise mental health by talking about it; investigating flexible working arrangements and whether it could work for the small firm; encourage ‘walking and talking’ meetings; and considering wellbeing training courses to support staff.

Certainly, there is increased interest from both the private and public sector in Wales in supporting greater wellness in the workplace going forward, and the Welsh Government has put this agenda at the heart of its economic strategy, with companies seeking financial support having to demonstrate a clear commitment to the wellbeing of their staff and mental health in particular.

There are also a growing number of events that are emphasising the need for organisations to adopt wellness as a key part of their strategy for their employees. One example is the RISE event that is taking place at the brand new Studio in Cardiff Bay later this month which will emphasise a range of different wellness activities – including yoga and mindfulness – and how these can impact on both the individual and the business.

So while January is normally a time for resolutions that few of us actually keep to beyond the first couple of weeks, it is brilliant news that the wellbeing of employees looks like becoming the key trend in 2018.

One can only hope that Welsh businesses both large and small as well as public sector organisations will embrace this trend wholeheartedly over the next 12 months and help to change the economy for the better.

ARTICLE FROM: WALES ONLINE UK https://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-opinion/wellbeing-workplace-one-big-business-14116771