What do most companies think about wellbeing?
When it comes to the who, what, and why, some organizations aren’t sure exactly where to prioritize wellbeing. While almost any good leader will tell you the wellbeing of their team members matters, many of them may also think of wellbeing campaigns as a value-added feel-good project that’s siloed in HR and that ranks far below their other leadership priorities. This is evidenced by the canceled or abbreviated meetings to discuss wellbeing and the largely missing business plans/strategic thinking that undergirds and sustains effective wellbeing programs.
Wellbeing is essential to the success, productivity, and performance of high-achieving organizations. Here’s the truth about wellbeing.
Wellbeing is not just about physical health.
Some companies participate in programs that provide objective measurements of their employees’ BMI, waist size, cholesterol, and a host of other metrics. While those measurements can provide some insight into ways to support employees, they don’t give any insight into the overall wellbeing of a company’s teams and key contributors.
A difficult workplace can take a serious toll on physical health. Employees who are at the peak of physical wellbeing can also face serious emotional and mental wellbeing issues that a leader may not notice unless they’re genuinely tuned into their team’s wellbeing and are able to cultivate a culture that normalizes sharing and solving wellbeing concerns.
Wellbeing is not just an HR responsibility.
Wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s particularly the responsibility of leaders. How many times have you seen your company’s internal teams roll out a program with great fanfare, only to watch it fall flat because of a lack of support throughout the organization?
Your company’s leaders must treat wellbeing as a shared responsibility and align on ways the organization will meaningfully support wellbeing initiatives. When a wellbeing focus signifies a radical shift for an organization, it’s even more critical that leaders throughout the organization are outspoken about aligning the ways they manage their teams with the company’s wellbeing focus.
Wellbeing is not just a nice-to-have.
Wellbeing encompasses the physical, emotional, and mental energy needs of the workforce, as well as its readiness and capacity for performance.
It’s not a bonus that we focus on if we have time after the work is done. It’s the very foundation of your people’s capacity to perform. The equation for sustainable performance, integral to your talent strategy, is:
- Competence – the skills and talents your people bring to the job, plus
- Capacity – the energy bandwidth required for them to being their competence to life
When your people are tired, sick, anxious, and overwhelmed, how much capacity do they have to perform?
Instead of thinking of wellbeing as a supplemental program that you’ll get around to if you have time/bandwidth, think of it as a business discipline. When woven into the business, a focus on wellbeing creates a more sustainable, healthy, and productive workforce – one that’s ready to create, innovate, and perform.
How Wellbeing Makes a Difference
As a business discipline, wellbeing connects directly to your business’s ability to complete its core functions. From a simple, high-level perspective, wellbeing programs increase productivity. For example:
- When a manufacturing company dedicated time during their workday for employees to stretch before going on shift, work-related injuries declined by 50 percent and workers’ comp costs decreased by $800,000.
- Employers who create cultures of health see 11 percent lower turnover.
- Employers see astounding reductions in workplace burnout when they create a culture that prioritizes engagement, wellbeing, and honoring individual strengths.
Wellbeing improves employees’ health, their engagement, and their ability to be sustainably productive.
The Link between Wellbeing and Productivity
Teams that are drained struggle with productivity. They spend more time on internal minutia and self-protective behaviors;, in-fighting, solo-ing, silo-ing, and being territorial.
When people are exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally, they will naturally be more defensive. They’re not able to focus on things that matter, to add value, or to connect meaningfully with their colleagues because they just don’t have the bandwidth to care and contribute.
On the other hand, leaders who focus on their people’s wellbeing can build energy-inspired workplaces, where they keep their people fueled and encourage sustainable work. These leaders recognize that energy is the biggest differentiator in teams’ abilities to perform and they equally prioritize performance and recovery as vital components of a healthy team.
Energy-inspired leaders connect wellbeing and productivity by:
- Communicating clearly and transparently. When people are unsure about where they stand, they funnel energy into stress and anxiety, which damages their wellbeing AND reduces their productivity. In an atmosphere of clarity, people are 53 percent more efficient and their overall work performance increases by 25 percent.
- Building a culture of high-trust, so less time and energy is spent on infighting and territorialism
- Developing and enforcing boundaries, so people actually have time to rest and recover when they’re away from work.
- Understanding the sum of their choices (sleep, nutrition, technology use, physical activity, etc.) has an impact on their wellbeing, which then impacts their productivity. When we’re sleep-deprived, for example, we’re measurably worse leaders and team members. When we allow technology to distract us and lure us into multitasking and context switching, we’re actively losing time and become more fatigued and less productive.
Productive people aren’t productive by accident. Instead, productive people recognize the connection between their energy/wellbeing and sustainable high performance. They use their energy and commit to recovery as part their overall wellbeing, knowing that the right decisions about energy fuel their productivity and success.