Over the last couple of years employee wellbeing has moved into the limelight and is a topic on everyone’s minds. Through the pandemic, organisations have had an opportunity to show their people that they trust them and are willing to invest in their health and wellbeing
During this time the wellbeing industry has also exploded with organisations and people offering different products and services to solve your wellbeing issues. There is a lot of noise out there and it is hard to know where to start and who to listen to. If you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, you’re not alone!
So where to start? Here’s the thing, and it’s really not rocket science, an organisation’s success will be driven by the wellbeing of its employees, and wellbeing within an organisation needs to be driven and role modelled by its leaders. A culture of trust needs to underpin the organisation with a focus on employee mental health. Put these things in place and your organisation will see performance and employee retention rise.
Where the challenge lies is that organisations and the leaders within it have to be willing to take a good look at themselves and be prepared to make some fundamental and systemic changes to their way of working. If your organisation is prioritising growth and not their people, it will fail. You only have to look at the Brewdog story to see evidence of this.
People can be fearful of change so it’s vital that these leaders recognise the benefits of having a culture of trust and wellbeing. Whatever your role is in the organisation, you have a voice, and you can start to build the business case for change.
Remember that every organisation and every individual is on their own wellbeing journey. There is no one size fits all, no one solution that fits all, and definitely not one solution! This framework is a guide and will help you to put structure and process around your wellbeing implementation.
- Gather evidence
- Develop a business case
- Get leaders onboard
- Focus on mental health
- Communicate, engage and take action
- Get feedback and evaluate
- Keep going!
- Gather evidence. Identify the possible data sets within the organisation that you can use to build your business case. Use this to show the current state of the organisation and how it benchmarks against other organisations or external data insights. Once you have these data sets identified, you can refer to these on a continuous basis to see how your interventions are having an impact. All decisions should be based on evidence, not guess work.
- Develop a business case. This should compelling arguments, data and facts to clearly put across what your business needs and why. It’s not rocket science. We know that healthier people perform better, cost less and cause fewer organisational risks. But CEOs and business leaders will want to see how neglecting to invest in wellbeing is impacting their bottom line. Be bold in your messaging. Where is your top talent going? What is the risk to the organisation if you do nothing?
- Get leaders onboard. Find those leaders who are supporters and talk to them about their involvement. What are these leaders already doing with their teams that others could learn from? What do they see as the priorities? These leaders will be your advocates and role models and help you drive any initiatives with top down messaging. You will also benefit from talking to leaders who are not supporters and find out what their point of view is. What you learn from them could inform you of what your biggest challenges will be. Win them over, and you know you’re succeeding!
- Visualise. It’s so important to have a vision. This could be for the next 6 months or next few years. Whatever works for your organization. Take stock of where the organisation is now, how are people feeling, what are they asking for, what story is the data telling you. Then, look at where your organization wants to be. What does success look like? What is the journey to get there? Remember that wellbeing is never ‘done’, so this vision needs to be a descriptor i.e. ‘To be a health promoting workplace, where wellbeing is built into the core of what we do, how we work together, and with our clients’.
- Strategise. Have a plan that directs you towards your vision. You may want to use a wellbeing model to align your interventions with. A holistic approach is recommended here and there are a number of versions out there, but it’s up to your organisation to work out what fits best for your industry and employees.
- Prioritise. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Use the data you’ve collected and do a risk assessment to determine what needs to be prioritised. If you do too much at once you risk overloading your resources and overwhelming your employees. Focus on one or two things to get you started. You can start to bring in other initiatives over time.
- Focus on mental health. Whilst it’s for your organisation to establish what they want to prioritise, I strongly recommend a focus on mental health being top of the list. Evidence tells us that organisations who invest in workplace mental health programs are mitigating the rising costs of doing nothing and will see improved employee engagement, higher productivity and performance, and higher retention.
- Communicate, engage and take action. Communicate your vision and how you are going to get there. Describe what success will look and feel like, and how this is going to become part of your business strategy and organisation vision. Share with leaders what the plans are and how they play a role. This is also a great time to seek support from your employees and create a wellbeing champions network. Your network is an amazing source of ideas and inspiration. Tap into them as much as possible! Change happens best when your people are onboard. Use your network of advocate leaders and champions network to get the ball rolling.
- Get feedback and evaluate. This should be a continuous process with everything you do. Make sure your stakeholders are onboard, make sure you’re basing any changes and decisions on data and evidence. Feedback is vital to ensuring you’re on the right track. Welcome it with open arms.
- Keep going! Don’t be discouraged if some of your initiatives don’t have the impact you were anticipating. Use feedback from all sources to evaluate and rethink your approach. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and reassess.
A sense of mental and physical wellbeing and the life choices and flexibility that are entwined within this area make wellbeing a key strategic topic if you are going to attract, grow and retain your people in today’s turbulent labour market. Those who see wellbeing as an afterthought, rather than a core part of organisational design and culture, will find that they will lose their best people to their more wellbeing-attuned competitors. Particularly in the coming months as we get to the bottom of what hybrid working actually means post-pandemic. External experience can give organisations an insightful view on how to step-change their strategic wellbeing.
If you’d like to hear about how an organisations success is driven by the wellbeing of its employees, listen to our recent podcast.