Well-being within the workplace is a key determinant of not only individual health and happiness but overall productivity and company or organizational profits. At its basic level, well-being is about personal happiness – feeling good, healthy, working safely and achieving productivity. Yet, if an organization wants to thrive in the long-term, keep a competitive edge, and make a difference in some key way, well-being must be an immediate organizational imperative.
According to a 2013 Gallup poll, in the U.S. more than 2 in 3 workers are unhappy in their jobs with 52 percent of U.S. workers “not engaged”, meaning that even if they don’t actively hate their jobs, they’re unhappy and don’t invest themselves in their job. Another 18 percent are “actively disengaged”, meaning they can’t stand their jobs and sometimes even sabotage co-workers or their companies.
WHY A CULTURE OF WELL-BEING IS CRITICAL
Economic growth as the end goal has dominated company strategy but cannot remain the end goal if companies hope to survive into the coming decades. Here’s why:
· High performers cannot sustain their output in a company culture where they are driven to keep producing under pressure and stress. Human beings are not machines. If they are high performing they will be valued by companies on the leading edge of performance and well-being. You will lose your shining stars.
· People are fed up with putting nose to grind with no joy or purpose. If conditions do not enable well-being, your organization will be used as a stepping stone for something better – and not attract and retain talent.
· Emerging leaders require nurturing. Evidence has shown that leaders rarely emerge on their own but through an environment and culture that values and nurtures their potentials. You’re wasting opportunities for nurturing talent within your organization, and likely contributing to individuals “not engaged” if not “actively disengaged” if you’re not actively creating a culture of well-being.
· Putting off addressing underlying causes for burnout, the related retention issues, and lack of engagement is costing, and costing not just money but individual willingness to go the extra mile for the team or organization when needed.
There will be times ahead in an increasingly turbulent world when your market share sees even greater competition and when you will rely on individual well-being and engaged individuals to make it through. Individual well-being is the new model for economic growth leading organizations are embracing.
FIVE STEPS TO CREATING A CULTURE OF WELLBEING
There are steps any organization can take to create a culture of well-being and engagement, minimize burnout, and create conditions for engagement, productivity, impact and/or profit. But it will all start with you.
1. Define Well-being
For you to create awareness around and demonstrate well-being, be clear on what you and your workplace needs to be well. Define what well-being means to you and inquire into what wellness, happiness, safety and health means to individuals you work with. You can’t design steps towards and get buy-in for well-being if you don’t know how everyone defines well-being.
2. Create Awareness
Help your organization understand the utility of well-being by linking it to values that individuals within the organization hold. There is a readiness to get on board that starts with awareness. For example, if a ‘why’ for your organization is ‘profit’ make the connection to well-being explicit by pointing to the outcome of greater individual productivity and capacity modelled in other organizations or among teams in your own.
3. Model Well-being
All cultures are based on value systems and to create change in any value system takes a common framework, institutional and social support and, above all, discipline in modeling the value until it is an intrinsic value. Be bold in demonstrating that well-being is important by carving well-being into your day.
4. Choose Where to Start
Design where and how you will nurture seeds for well-being and be consistent. Do not burn yourself out to advocate for well-being. Identify what you can eliminate or make more efficient while introducing actions for well-being. Start by choosing well-being activities you can do on your own and then identify where and how you can include well-being activities with a co-worker buddy, then in your team, and department, before going organization-wide.
There will be times creating awareness and getting buy-in might feel like you are pushing upstream. But the process must be sustainable. Check in frequently with how you are feeling. What will matter most is your ability to live by well-being as a value and lifestyle. Enjoy the process.