Are happier and healthier people better for business?
When Napoleon Bonaparte (or possibly Frederick the Great) said that an army marches on its stomach, he was acknowledging an obvious truth – people operate more effectively if they are fit and happy.
And yet, in the intervening couple of centuries, large organisations have – in many cases – put their priorities in other areas. Productivity, output, added value: this is what is demanded of workers. Longer hours, more restrictions on time off, increased expectations.
But recently, there has been something of a collective epiphany.
Leaders and managers – those who have been through the mill and seen the impact of relentless overworking, and may even have experienced the burnout themselves – have started to really appreciate the value of encouraging their workforce to focus more on their wellbeing.
What is wellbeing, and how does it translate into better productivity?
Wellbeing is a multi-faceted expression of a person’s physical, mental and emotional health.
It encompasses their life balance (work to non-work), the exercise they take, the relationships they have with their family, friends and work colleagues; their level of contentment, their physical state, the way they view the world around them, the quality of sleep they achieve, the food they eat, the contribution they make to society and many other factors.
And many studies have shown that higher levels of physical and mental health translate directly into greater happiness, increased self-motivation and ultimately, improved performance and productivity.
It’s no coincidence that those organisations that engage with their employees the most have higher loyalty and retention levels, and there is a direct relationship between this and shareholder value.
On Henley’s Executive Management Programme (EMP) we speak at length about the need to engage with employees so that we gain their commitment, and not just their compliance. This fundamental difference is what increasingly separates sustainable from unsustainable businesses.
Having employees who have a shared purpose and are willing, able and WANT to go the extra mile is crucial in gaining a competitive advantage, and wellbeing is a key driver.
Treating your employees better will attract a higher level of talent too
Competition for the best new talent that comes onto the market each year is intensifying, and surveys of business owners are increasingly citing the acquisition of the right individuals as one of the top three factors for the future success of the organisation.
As the scramble for the top performers grows, the demands from the candidates take on growing value too, and most talented individuals are no longer prepared to accept terms and conditions that will lead them to burn out. Therefore, the bar is being raised, and raised again.