The latest buzz word to make its way into corporate vocabulary is wellbeing. A broad, layered term that can be applied to numerous situations, but what does it mean and why is it important for your organisation?
In the last decade, there has been an increasing number of organisations offering physical wellbeing initiatives like gym memberships to their employees in an attempt to improve employee wellbeing and productivity.
Today, especially since the pandemic, an organisations success is less focused on profit, revenue and target hitting, and instead more focused on their ability to target, attract and retain top talent, hence the reason for increased ‘wellbeing’ incentives. But is a gym membership really going to make an individual more productive at work?
“Wellbeing comes from one place, and one place only: a positive culture.”
— Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron, Harvard Business Review
In order for a wellbeing initiative to be truly transformative for an organisation, it must address more than just the physical side. Employee wellbeing consists of three elements that all contribute in different ways to the overall individual. These elements are:
- Physical Wellbeing
- Social Wellbeing
- Emotional/Mental Wellbeing
As a leader, it is your responsibility to understand that wellbeing isn’t just one-sided. It is a combination of all facets of life and work.
The question is, as a leader, what can you do to help support individual employees through their wellbeing and what does this mean for your work environment and culture?
Physical wellbeing can be achieved by embracing and practising a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle consists of regular health checks, a nutritious diet and avoiding poor choices like smoking and alcohol consumption.
Even though physical health improvements do increase overall wellbeing, there is little satisfaction that can be gained from improving, after a certain level has been reached.
A 2019 Wellbeing report by O.C Tanner states that “while employees appreciate company support for their physical wellness, our study found only 14% believe their workplace prioritises emotional wellbeing and only 9% of employees believe their organisation cares about their social wellbeing.”
Social wellness can have a large impact on an employee’s overall wellbeing. This element is achieved through a work-life balance and positive interactions with others, both in a work environment and in their personal lives.
Social wellbeing is often overlooked and the influence that social interactions have on team members is severely underrated. It has been proven that individuals who have excellent social wellness are more productive at work than those with poor social wellness.
O.C Tanner’s 2019 Wellbeing report states that a “work-life balance is an important contributor towards overall wellbeing. Our research shows for every increase in feeling they “frequently miss important things because of work”, employees are 26% less likely to feel their organisation prioritises social wellbeing.”
It is possible, as a leader and as an organisation, to promote social wellness amongst employees which in turn yields higher productivity rates. Companies can achieve a more social work environment through open plan offices, informal meeting spaces and social company or team events and more.
Emotional wellness is the third contributing element to an individual’s overall sense of wellbeing. This includes feeling like you belong, having a sense of purpose and that you are in control of your life.
In the O.C Tanner report, only 54% of respondents said that their organisation has an inclusive culture. This kind of culture is a crucial aspect to bringing out the most authentic, passionate and best version of each individual.
According to their research “72% of employees in an inclusive culture believe they can be their authentic selves, and only 46% of employees in a non-inclusive culture believe the same.”
An inclusive workplace culture allows diverse employees to experience social and emotional wellness by fostering deep social connections, encouraging individuality and authentic self-expression. Organisations must champion a workplace culture where employees can thrive.
Strong and purposeful leadership plus an engaging and aligned organisational culture will help employees with a high sense of emotional wellness, therefore more likely to experience increased overall wellbeing than those with excellent social and physical wellness.
In the same O.C Tanner study, it was found that companies must care for the individual’s holistic wellbeing. So, not just their physical, but also their social and emotional wellbeing. And, as an added bonus, “Virgin Pulse finds that 65% of companies with strategic, holistic wellbeing programs saw improvements in their company cultures.”