In the first three parts of our continuing series, we focused on how organizational culture can foster employee wellness, how a company can prosper from developing employees’ minds and spirits, and how the power of good leadership can build a healthy workplace. In this final installment, we’d like to take a closer look at well-being itself.
But first, let’s back up a bit. While “wellness” is often used as the operative word for the entire industry that has grown up around this movement, a case could be made that enlightened employers should take an even wider-lensed approach, and aim for overall employee well-being.
This term suggests much more than just achieving physical health, as important as that is. Well-being encompasses a more holistic approach to addressing social, emotional and physical healthfulness, by supporting the deeper foundations of what makes people thrive in all areas of their life, and thus become more productive and engaged employees.
As Aetna Insurance CEO Mark Bertolini has observed: “If people can’t make ends meet at home with food, benefits, health and healthcare in particular, how can they be present, engaged knowledge workers when they come to work?”
Taking a Holistic Approach
As the line between professional and personal life continues to blur for many of us, successful leaders must reconsider what kinds of programs it takes to attract and retain crucial talent and keep up with rising societal expectations of responsible corporate citizenship.
But most employers haven’t yet made tangible moves in that direction.
According to the Gallup polling organization, only 12 percent of U.S. employers offer wide-ranging well-being programs. But Gallup’s comprehensive study of people in more than 150 countries suggests that five crucial, interconnected elements shape our lives: career, social, financial, physical and community well-being.
So taking a holistic approach might include engaging in some of the following:
- Re-engineering the workplace to decrease stress. Stress costs U.S. employers nearly $200 billion a year in increased healthcare costs, according to one study. By increasing employees’ access to exercise, meditation and even naps (sleep pods, anyone?) stress can become less of a factor.
- Increasing employee autonomy. Studies show that the more control a person feels over their job and the less micromanagement they experience, the higher their job satisfaction.
- Building community volunteerism into the fabric of the organization. A preponderance of employees want to work for organizations with a volunteerism culture. A survey by America’s Charities found that 71% of employees say it’s imperative or very important to work where the culture is supportive of giving and volunteering.
- Listening to what employees want and being open to non-traditional benefits. Many companies offer such standard perks as free or subsidized food, tuition assistance and paid time off. But research from the consulting firm Deloitte shows that help with paying down student loans is among the most popular perks with employees.
- Injecting middle-management incentives. Companies that are serious about improving employees’ holistic well-being understand that managers at all levels must be induced to manage that way through tangible incentives. So tying managers’ bonuses to the satisfaction level of their direct reports might make
- Focusing on “presenteeism.” While traditional wellness programs might focus heavily on reducing employee absenteeism, well-being initiatives look deeper, at lagging productivity even when people are at work. One study by Dow Chemical, for instance, found that “presenteeism”—which refers to people who come to work even when they’re not feeling well–costs an average of $6,721 per employee per year.
How to Measure
But how can organizations measure well-being? After all, it’s a familiar management mantra that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. While inexact, experts say there are some rough measures of overall organizational well-being that provide meaningful, actionable intelligence. Here are three ways to do that:
Monitoring engagement levels. Brief quarterly, monthly or even weekly surveys of employees about various internal issues might be the right answer for some organizations. For others, occasional face-to-face meetings seeking that input might work better. After all, sometimes just being interested can help. A study by the HR consulting company Limeade found that employees are 38 percent more engaged when their employers care about their well-being.
Exit interviews. When employees leave the organization for other opportunities, they are generally in a position to provide frank input on their experience. That’s especially true if the questions are thoughtfully crafted so as to elicit the most honest responses.
Sentiment analysis. For organizations that are comfortable with the technical and privacy issues around more invasive methods, an emerging field called sentiment analysis culls emails, social media posts and other employee communications to gauge the level of people’s overall happiness with their jobs.
How Are You Doing?
As talent consultants and advisors, our role is to help clients think more deeply about these issues, and to help them find the right talent that fits their unique needs.
How would you rate your organization’s well-being? Are you taking a holistic approach to your employees’ overall contentment, or merely focusing on physical wellness? And how are you measuring it? Whatever you’re doing, we’d love to hear about it. Just drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Posted by Cassandra Greaves
- On December 11, 2019
- 0 Comments