Organizations cannot prosper without motivated and supported workers. Employees who love the companies they work for are engaged, productive and loyal.
The challenge for employers is to inspire their workforce to bring more of their whole selves and full potential to work every day. But how can employees possibly do this if they have poor work relationships, feel unsupported, don't feel safe, lack meaning, or feel like they don't belong, Or perhaps they are suffering from low energy levels due to poor sleep, dealing with challenging family responsibilities, or experiencing high levels of stress due to financial worries?
Over the past decade, organizations have rolled out programs and policies designed to support and improve employee health and work-life integration. However, often lacking senior leader and/or middle manager support, these approaches have often fallen short of delivering the culture change necessary to actually improve the lives of employees and reap the associated positive business results. People don't need another office yoga class or a token gift card...they need a supervisor who understands and supports the primary human need that work fulfills, the key role of well-being, and the importance of enabling the employee to achieve work-life harmony. People show up to work for a paycheck, but they require the following elements in their work environment to be engaged:
- Psychological safety
- Positive emotions
These are the ingredients of a workplace that succeeds. These elements are what separate positive and growing teams from stagnant, cynical, burnt-out teams. No matter how many strategies and programs a manager implements, there can not be true progress and success without a foundation of trust, inclusion and kindness.
71% of employees who strongly agree that their organization cares about their wellbeing strongly advocate for their organization as a place to work, compared with only 12% of employees who do not strongly agree. ~Gallup, Importance of Employee Well-Being
What is Work-place Well-Being?
Well-being is built like a pyramid...let's start at the base: physical, financial, & mental health
- First, a person must have their basic needs met; generally the financial security to secure appropriate housing, transportation, food, and physical security of themselves and family.
- Next level, physical/mental wellness...a body/brain that has appropriate sleep, nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and the resources to ensure proper maintenance and support.
The above two levels form the groundwork for the ability to experience well-being: A physical body and mind that can perform tasks to secure a paycheck...the basic quid pro quo of the basis of work. These form the foundation of the principles of work and the next levels cannot be attained without this secure base. However, work as we know it is changing...people (and organizations) require and expect more to this arrangement to perform their best. Let's look at the next level: social, emotional and occupational well-being:
- Humans need the ability to form and maintain positive relationships with others, and, at work (where we spend most of our waking time) this means with co-workers, supervisors, leadership, and customers/patients/students. This is where the elements of trust, psychological safety, belonging, appreciation, and the simple fact that we like to laugh and be happy, lie.
- Emotional well-being encompasses the ability to cope with stress and manage emotions. This is where the elements of resilience, positive emotions, fairness and competence lie.
- Occupational well-being includes the ability to learn, grow and develop new skills and professional knowledge, as well as the safety and space for intellectual curiosity.
Lastly, at the tip of the pyramid people are enabled to perform and experience life at their best...spiritual well-being, finding a sense of meaning, mastery, and purpose in all aspects of life and work. This is where we find the employee who is is at their best--but it's only after they have progressed (and it's not all that easy or attainable) to the top of the pyramid. This is where we and our team want to be, this is the goal, this is the state at which people reach their full potential. This state is only reached through personal growth and strategy and can only be achieved in a supportive work-environment.
It has been estimated that the average person will spend roughly 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. People are starting to realize they don't want a third of their life to be spent stressed out and unhappy.
Let's take a look at how we, as organizations, can provide that supportive environment...that culture of well-being...