The Roots of Wellbeing

Attracting and retaining talent has always been a common challenge for businesses and it's getting even more difficult. The internet has added fuel to the recruitment fire as employees, previous and current, can go onto career portals and "rate" their employer, giving future employees a glimpse into the culture of the company.

If you want the best, you have to offer the best

"Best Place to Work" rankings compiled by online websites and newspapers have also become popular. Job seekers routinely place the companies that have this "seal of approval" high on their lists when contemplating their next career move.

Rewards and benefits also play a big role. Previous generations were happy with tangible benefits such as cash bonuses, gift cards and prizes from catalogues, but not anymore. Today's generation wants to be rewarded with experiences, preferably tailored to them and their interests. They want to post on linkedin or instagram about what they earned, to show others how their hard work is being recognised. This inevitably is promotion of company culture in the most modern form.

Turning to the atmosphere at work itself, talk of how health affects employee productivity started to creep into the picture. Companies quickly responded with onsite gyms, healthy snack boxes, and ergonomically designed chairs and tables. But again, they started to find that even these efforts just weren't making the cut.

The concept of work-life balance started to gain momentum. When work-life balance is out of whack, so are employee's stress levels. Recognising that this balance looks different to every individual and their circumstances, some of initiatives that companies started to promote included flexible working schedules and remote working. It was definitely a step in the right direction.

Differentiate yourself from the rest with the newest concepts on the scene

It became increasingly clear that people want to work for companies that value them for who they are in the workplace as well outside of work in their personal lives. They also want to feel that their employer cares about their physical, mental, emotional and social health.

Thus the latest development in creating an attractive place to work entered the scene: corporate wellbeing programmes as the ultimate employer differentiator. Across the spectrum of human resource management functions from hire to retire, building corporate culture based upon a model of wellbeing provides a wealth of benefits for employees and ensures the continued growth and success of the company.

According to the latest Health and Well-being at Work report published by the CIPD, a culture of wellbeing makes the workplace a more productive, attractive and socially responsible place to work.1

Health and wellbeing starts at the top and trickles down

The report further highlights that while effective wellbeing strategy should be specific and based on employee needs, it is essential that senior teams make a serious and visible commitment to health and wellbeing. Good people management is an essential part of strategy. This includes ensuring line managers build healthy relationships with their teams and that they have the competence to support people's wellbeing.2

In other words, wellbeing isn't just for employees but especially for CxOs and senior management, because when leaders are confident and forthright about their own wellbeing this sends a powerful message down the line and trickles through the company.

Workplaces have the power to nurture a positive environment that buzzes with vitality and creativity, to be a place where staff feel valued and safe and where they are recognised as crucial contributors in the learning and development process.3

Monkey see, monkey do when it comes to corporate culture

Like many aspects of culture in general, not just workplace culture, it all comes back to the classic phrase, "monkey see, monkey do." And just like toddlers watching their parents every move, employees quickly pick up on company habits by observing their colleagues and leaders.

So when wellbeing strategy review is next on the agenda and a discussion pops up about how to keep moving forward - perhaps it's time to look at it with a top down approach and examine the question: are employees being told (consciously or not) to "don't do what we say, but do what we do?" and if so, what exactly are top leaders and line managers "doing" with regards to wellbeing?

  1. 1-2. CIPD: Health and Well-being in the Workplace, Survey report. March 2020.
  2. 3. Green, D and Wright, M. 2014. Well-being: leading and managing a well workplace. AMiE Outstanding Performance Series.

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