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What is wellbeing anyway?
I can recall a conversation I had many years ago when I set up my first business.
I was sitting in a meeting in the headquarters of a government agency talking about a training programme I was developing based around a book I had written on workplace wellbeing.
During the conversation someone in the meeting who was fairly senior in the organisation looked over at me with a raised and quizzical eyebrow and said, “Well good luck however I am not sure there will be much of a business case for that do you?”
How things have changed!
Certainly, our experience through a global pandemic has catapulted wellbeing to centre stage in many organisations. There is now a growing appreciation of the link between wellbeing and productivity, and the importance of building and supporting a culture of wellbeing. There is also an increasing amount of compelling evidence that demonstrates an impressive return on investment for those organisations which invest in the wellbeing of their people.
On this basis, employee wellbeing is now one of the key focuses for leaders and human resource management practitioners. Leaders need to ensure that employees are supported with resources, tools and on-site healthcare opportunities to fully support the overall wellbeing of their people.
I would love to share a few of my observations and recommendations of what I have experienced over the year in terms of what really is key for organisations to embrace in order to fully embed a culture of wellbeing
Equip people to do their job
Before you can even begin to think about implementing any additional wellbeing support, it is essential that you equip people with the tools to be able to do their job. Technology can often be a barrier and so ensuring people have the equipment and support they need is essential.
It is also important to establish that the environment people are working in is conducive to wellbeing. When your team are working remotely, this can be a bit more challenging to manage and so opening the conversation up and checking in with each team member to understand their position, is of paramount importance.
Develop a solid strategy
To ensure that your approach to employee wellbeing is a solid business investment, your strategy needs to be measured carefully so you can constantly assess the impact it is having. Identifying from the outset what you are trying to achieve, and determining how you can measure it, will be the difference between a successful strategy and a waste of time, money and valuable resources.
Having a clearly defined set of goals, outcomes and metrics is crucial and there are plenty of excellent reporting tools that can be used, including HR software and employee surveys. Wellbeing can be seen by some as a bit of an abstract concept; however, once you have established what your anticipated deliverables are, you can present and implement a solid business case and strategy.
Pace your support
The best way to sustain a successful wellbeing programme is to make sure that it is well paced, and drip fed throughout the year. This will maintain engagement, and, over time, people will start to anticipate what is on offer. Launching all your interventions too soon and all at once can be counterproductive and overwhelming.
Establishing a calendar of events that links to wider awareness days, weeks and months will help you to create structure. This means that you can also tap into any of the free support resources that are often available too.
Manage people well
You may well be familiar with the term ‘People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers’. It is evident that the way in which managers behave can often be cited as the reason behind employees looking for another job or suffering from work-related stress.
When it comes to leading wellbeing, the line manager’s role is pivotal. Some managers lack the necessary ‘people management’ skills. It is fundamental, therefore, to provide managers with training and support. This will allow line managers to excel in their roles, particularly in support of managing the emotional wellbeing of their teams.
Lead with empathy
Leading with empathy is about being sensitive to people’s needs, interested in them and their lives, willing to help them with their problems, and being compassionate when they need to share their concerns. Ultimately, it is about demonstrating that you care.
To win the hearts and minds of people, as a leader, it is so important for people to know that you genuinely care and that you are not just paying lip service. It is also worth remembering that you can only truly engage, motivate, and influence people when you understand how they feel.
Improve stress intelligence
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. This often happens when people feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Being aware of stress levels, and raising awareness around stress intelligence, is essential.
There are many ways that people can learn to prioritise self-care, establish a healthy lifestyle, and manage everyday energy. Assessing organisational culture and processes, as well as offering wellbeing support, will mitigate the damage of mismanaged stress levels.
Communicate with clarity
Keeping things as clear and simple as possible will have a big impact on people’s wellbeing and reduce information anxiety. When communication is complicated and confusing, it can add to already heightened stress levels.
Helping people to understand exactly what is being asked of them, and why it matters in the grand scheme of things, is an important approach to take. In times of uncertainty and constant change, it will also be helpful to break things down into manageable tasks. This stops people from feeling overwhelmed and will help them to prioritise better.
Trust and empower
Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Building trust helps people to be open and receptive to new experiences and, in turn, makes life richer and more interesting.
Empowering people is an important part of the modern-day leader’s role. When people are micromanaged, it shows a lack of confidence in their abilities and, indeed, a lack of trust. This can be very confining and frustrating and lead to unnecessary and avoidable stress as well as impacting on morale.
Support continual learning
Learning something new every day is one of the greatest joys of being alive as well as having a positive impact on wellbeing. Encouraging curiosity will help people to cultivate a growth mindset and promote a desire for continuous learning.
Providing people with a wide variety of stimulating learning opportunities will encourage personal growth and keep teams engaged and energised.
Lead with purpose
A sense of life-meaning and purpose is fundamental to overall wellbeing and is something that can support resilience through challenging times. Leading with purpose means that not only do you have a purpose, but that you can also inspire others to define theirs.
We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy and committed workforce is vital to our business success
You can watch Liggy’s webinar on the topic of “What is Wellbeing Anyway?” on demand here.
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