Three ways to make wellbeing inclusive

This blog is for the Head of Diversity, HR generalist or interested leader who wants to ensure every employee is given the wellbeing support they need.

Most employers understand diversity and inclusion (D+I) though many are yet to focus on this sufficiently as part of their wellbeing strategy. As an example, when considering D+I, people tend to think about race, gender, sexual orientation and so on and this is, of course, both necessary and correct. However, mental health is also an important factor in the fight for inclusivity.

One in four of us will experience mental health issues yet only one in ten feel able to disclose them at work. Stigmatising people with mental health problems can obviously lead to them feeling excluded and exacerbate their conditions, so wellbeing solutions should factor this in. Another example is that one in four menopausal women consider quitting their jobs due to their experiences at work. Since half of the population will go through this, you’d think people would be considering how wellbeing solutions can support them. Wellbeing solutions must recognise that the issues are complex and varied and factor this into the plan.

Make solutions diverse too

The answer is to avoid blanket solutions that, by their very nature, tend towards bias to the majority. Step back from the broad to the tailored. Mercer recently wrote:

“In an ideal world all wellbeing materials and initiatives would be completely personalised towards each person.”

This is where tools like Wellbee come in as they enable each individual to access them at will, assess their own wellbeing across a range of areas and then receive only the personalised advice, recommendations and tools they need. And organisations can quickly pinpoint where wellbeing is at risk and focus on improving those areas.

Overall, of course, the best way to find out what people really need, is to consult them rather than presenting your ready-made solution.

Materials

Ensure wellbeing materials encompass a subject from different perspectives as opposed to the ‘traditional view’. For example, heart attack recognition materials often reflect symptoms as men experience them whereas females’ symptoms are often far more subtle and quite different (Mercer). Twice as many black men are likely to die of prostate cancer than white males though images promoting awareness and self-examination are almost universally of white males.

People from diverse backgrounds can face unconscious bias, lack of representation and other stress factors that will impair mental and even physical wellbeing in the workplace. It’s therefore important for everyone’s wellbeing to ensure that people, especially line managers, are educated from a D+I perspective and therefore know how to ensure they can safeguard one another.

The concept of micro-aggression is often overlooked here. These seemingly innocuous, well-meaning and supposedly well-intentioned comments take the form of indirect and often unintentional expression of discrimination. Examples include the Asian graduate complimented on her ‘good English’, the person who came out to work colleagues and was told she didn’t ‘look gay’, or the African colleague who was given a nickname at work because his own name was ‘too difficult to pronounce and/or remember’

Analytics

Whilst good wellbeing systems will provide key analytics, rather than looking at them in isolation (which is, of course, a good start), factor this data into comparison information such as health v performance, employee net promotor score v wellbeing v productivity and so on.

In England and Wales almost a fifth of the workforce is from an ethnic minority* and one in three are, in 2020, still experiencing racism at work, it’s intelligent and unequivocal information that will force the change still so desperately needed.

You can try Wellbee for free today for up to 15 people – no strings attached…

 *Click here and here to see why we didn’t use the term BAME in this article