Table tennis, yoga classes and nap times may go some way towards showing how interested a company is in the wellbeing of their employees, after all, a willingness to try new and novel approaches to improve the employee experience is no bad thing. But, does this sort of initiative really have any sustainable impact on the wellbeing of people at work, or are they just sticking plasters, which fall off after a bit of wear and tear?
Change has a lot to answer for
Everyone is feeling the ripples of change and the emotional impact it has on employees. When organisations operate in highly changeable conditions they need to watch out for these risks to wellbeing:
Change overload (too much change)
Ill-prepared for change (unready)
Past experience of change leading to anxiety
Avoidance/Resistance in the face of change
Emotional experience of change
Symptomatic treatment is simply too late
We know that the ‘wellbeing at work’ sector is positioned to provide the symptomatic treatment of issues that affect how healthy and happy people are at work, but perhaps this ‘after-care’ service is simply too late.
Problems will resurface if wellbeing solutions are superficial
If wellbeing initiatives are introduced before addressing the root cause of problems there is a high risk that they will be perceived as frivolous and superficial. Moreover, once the novelty wears off, the cracks will begin to show again, and any unresolved issues will continue to cause problems for both the employee and the organisation in terms of employee engagement, performance and productivity.
Maybe the answer is in reform rather than recovery
There are no short cuts; organisations that want to successfully create healthier and happier workplaces for their employees need to take a long, hard look at the culture of their organisations and ask: What is happening in our workplace that might be undermining wellbeing at a fundamental level?
A command and control leadership style is counterproductive
Despite pressures to modernise, managers still tend to fall back on a command and control style of leadership, especially in times of adversity. They spend much more of their time in ‘tell mode’ and spend very little of their time listening. This can be highly counterproductive when dealing with employees who are struggling with overwhelm, anxiety, stress and even burnout which can lead to much bigger problems further down the line.
With the right skills and behaviours, managers can buoy good health and happiness
It’s no secret that managers have a big impact on employee wellbeing so before sending the whole workforce to lunchtime Reiki sessions, it’s a good idea to equip managers with the skills and behaviours they need to create working conditions that actively buoy good health and happiness.
Tempting as it may be to get out the sticking plasters again, temporary solutions just won’t work. Change needs to occur on a much deeper level, because, in most cases, managers will have to set aside long-held mental models of what it means to be a manager and undergo a ‘rewiring’ in order to learn how to interact differently with the people around them.
When managers adopt an ‘Enquiry-Led Approach’ (ELA®) they are more likely to understand what employees need
When managers learn how to consistently integrate an ELA® into their leadership style, they spend more time asking powerful questions and listening attentively to what is being said. Through ELA® managers create opportunities to get closer to the issues faced by people in their teams which enables them to establish a more authentic understanding of what needs to be done to improve the situation. This might include making better decisions, working more innovatively, reorganising, building new relationships and working smarter rather than harder. Consequently, this more advanced level of communication can support changes in both manager and employee behaviour that actually gets to the heart of the matter and has a much deeper impact on the employee experience.
Then, once these solid foundations are in place there’s nothing stopping you from going crazy with the wellbeing initiatives!
Notion is a global expert in behaviour change and coaching. Click here if you would like to learn more about how to create a happier and healthier culture that enables wellbeing to thrive, or call us on +44 (0)1926 889 885 for an informal chat.