Part 2 – how to develop an effective organizational well-being strategy
Ever since Gallup and Healthways developed their comprehensive, research-based definition of employee well-being, it has been clear that what employers do about well-being needs to go well beyond physical well-being. However, it was the pandemic and changing work patterns that shifted the attention of organizations to mental health and other aspects that shape employee well-being. When developing a well-being strategy, it is worth approaching systemically, taking care of each of the five elements: sense of meaning, relationships, finances, community and physical health.
Why it is worthwhile to have a well-being strategy?
A survey of UK HR leaders found that 50% of organizations have a separate well-being strategy, implemented as part of a broader organizational strategy. Compared to 2018, this is a 10% change. Only 13% of companies surveyed took no action in this area, but 46% provide ad hoc activities according to the current needs of employees.
We might assume that this approach is dominant in Polish companies, especially because before the pandemic only 3% of domestic companieshad, mental health programs, compared to 41% in the UK. And while reports show that every action, even the smallest one, makes sense, in these times of dispersed structures, economic uncertainty, constant change and high mental stress on employees, it is necessary to act holistically. In a business world where shaping the employee experience (including digital experience) is as valuable as shaping the customer experience, a lack of consistency, authenticity and any mistakes can prove very costly.
How to develop an effective well-being strategy in an organization?
Tracy Brower, sociologist and author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work, suggests looking at the well-being strategy from a broader perspective of the entire organizational culture – the norms, values, assumptions and shared belief systems within organizations. Therefore, when creating a strategy, it is worth asking ourselves a number of questions, including about the goal we want to achieve and the indicators that will demonstrate the effectiveness of our actions.
But it is organizational culture, Brower says, that is key to planning any action. She defines this as a strong, constructive culture that creates the context for innovative solutions to employee well-being. It is what makes people feel included and engaged, so they can do their jobs better. And it determines the scope of the strategy created and implemented, based on the needs of employees and leaders. What aspects should it address?
- Psycho-physical health – these are no longer just benefit cards, but an entire communication and support package. An important role in this respect is played by access to online initiatives in the area of challenges related to healthy eating, movement or maintaining balance between work and life. It is also online access to training that teaches, how to manage stress and daily challenges (relaxation, mindfulness, restful sleep, meditation, etc.) that employees can use at any time.
- Family life – remote work brings additional stress for parents of children of different ages. It is worth taking care of those employees who are struggling with issues unknown before the pandemic (online schools) by providing flexible office and home hours. Some companies provide emergency care for the elderly or children, or even buy online tutoring packages for their employees’ children.
- Community – well-being is also about bonds that foster a sense of belonging. The lack of or minimization of direct contact must therefore be offset by online relationships. Communication with the help of modern technologies, including communication and training platforms, must go beyond the professional framework. It is also an element of organizational culture, in which caring about each other builds the social capital of the organization.
- Celebration, or celebrating successes and sharing mutual appreciation. This is also an important element of the well-being strategy, in which building commitment is supported through joyful moments and their celebration.
- Learning and development – training, access to knowledge, sharing experiences, feedback and career development have a significant impact on the well-being of employees. Positioning all L&D activities within a well-being strategy is an important aspect of supporting positive employee experience and engagement. The focus here naturally shifts to online initiatives, so it makes sense to ensure that the solutions offered are of high quality.
- Constant monitoring of needs and effects – this becomes essential in a VUCA world where change is the order of the day. What was important to employees today may not be important tomorrow – and thus implemented solutions quickly become outdated. Once again, technology comes to the rescue to collect data and metrics on an ongoing basis.
- Technology that is tailored to the needs and capabilities of employees, while leaving room for a flexible approach to work and private life. But it is also employers’ attentiveness to digital burnout, offering, e.g. modern training modalities such as microlearning or chunking.
No best-laid strategy for employee well-being can be effective if employees do not have the opportunity to relax. Work overload causes frustration and leads to burnout. Caring for employees involves the entire organization, including leaders. It is worth considering whether they have the right skills to empathetically manage and support employees. And if not, how to equip them with these skills..
Employee expectations are clear, with nearly 73% believing that their employer should care about their mental well-being and lead initiatives to support their well-being and welfare. That is why it pays to do this wisely, by conducting an in-depth needs study and providing thoughtful and needed solutions that support employees with their real-world problems and daily challenges.
 Own work based on: https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/5488344/Raport_Activy-Przyszlosc_well-beingu_benefitow.pdf