Wellbeing is a growing conversation across many organisations but it’s also an area that is still quite undefined. What is Wellbeing? What part of it are we focusing on? What outcomes does Wellbeing give for employees and what’s it’s value to the organisation?
It’s logical that many organisations invest in parts of Wellbeing that address immediate group outcomes such as elevated productivity and positive team feelings. Often this is short lived and most employees immerse back into their previous routines. It is a well known fact that employees are more productive, positive and purpose driven when they feel supported, valued and recognised, but how do we do that?
Research provides strong evidence that Wellbeing programs create positive outcomes and enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism, increase loyalty and staff retention. Current performance and productivity programs often focus on psychological performance, resulting in short term positive effects with limited long term transitioning into work practices.
Wellbeing programs tend to be practitioner specific or within a group setting, skimming the surface and not addressing the true needs and aspirations of the employee. At the base level, we then have the clinical model, but once employees require this type of support it has become a more complex issue. Without more in depth insight into the benefits, cost then becomes a critical factor. Often just one approach can be chosen which potentially addresses only some employees needs.
Let’s consider for a moment our ‘human condition’.
Most of us go to work with the intent of being productive and performing jobs to the best of our ability. But we’re not machines, so lost productivity is often due to distractions caused by a myriad of concerns whether work based, financial, family, health or emotional.
We attempt to show the parts of ourselves that perform tasks, communicate effectively, focus our expertise and get the job done. It’s our sanitised self. While the other parts of our whole self are lurking underneath as they can’t be left at home.
We are well adept to managing this work. But in periods of stress, where concerns and worries can be so distracting and overwhelming, it potentially creates a spiral effect of irrational behaviour and reduced performance. By this stage, we may have damaged relationships at work or our own self esteem and at worst a management process or EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) may be engaged.
Wellbeing is supposed to be about creating an improved version of ourselves, not just addressing a negative situation. One element of Whole Life Wellbeing is a sense of safety and security. Within an organisation, if employees feel safe and supported through a Wellbeing policy from a Whole Life perspective, it is possible to prevent situations becoming a negative or crisis to fix.
Happy employees are more productive and purpose driven. Happy employees are generally happy people but happiness can’t be created in isolation. What about the person who enjoys work but has let their personal life slip away due their commitment to work? What about the parent who spends much of their time feeling guilty juggling family and work? Or those who are looking for career progression and are not sure what to do?
What about those concerned about financial security, family, ageing parents or niggling health issues?
What would be gained if employees felt supported by their employers to develop the best version of themselves through programs that focus on elements that cause concerns at various stages of life and not limited to psychological productivity or group activities. Could such an approach create a ripple effect of value for the individual, organisation and broader community for now and into the future?
The term ‘Whole life Wellbeing’ describes an understanding that an individual’s Wellbeing does not exist in a snapshot of time or situations, and it is rather an ever evolving state of a person’s life at every age and every phase. Whole Life Wellbeing is underpinned by the key elements identified within global wellbeing indexes which report on social measurements of progress and wellbeing at national, community, family and individual levels. Organisations have the opportunity to take a greater responsibility and involvement in the wellbeing and progress of the communities they engage with starting with the wellbeing of their employees.