As a hot topic in business, Paul Turner, Professor of Management Practice at Leeds Business School, tells us why wellbeing in the workplace is important and what it can do for both employees and productivity.
In the workplace, wellbeing means creating an environment, which allows an employee to flourish mentally, physically and to achieve their full potential for the benefit of both themselves and their organisation. To quote Simon Sinek: ‘When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.’
Very important! Imagine if everyone in the workplace felt like they were well. Walked into work this morning feeling energised. Happy to be there. Pleased with the way the company was treating them. Pleased with their work. Very engaged. Very motivated. Imagine the impact on productivity and profitability? This is workplace wellbeing in action.
Wellbeing is made up of all those emotional and physical experiences people have and how they evaluate these in their life. We’re starting to move the dial from illness to wellness and our focus should increasingly be on that.
Wellbeing creates a positive working environment leading to a positive impact on a range of organisational performance indicators. Pick up any newspaper and you will regularly read the headline figures that £9 billion and 100 million working days are lost from UK employers due to sickness or absence. Research shows that health and wellbeing does not have to be an ‘add-on’ or ‘nice-to-have’ if, instead, it is placed at the centre of a business model, it can prove to be a source of value creation, with significant dividends. Workplace wellbeing makes commercial sense and evidence supports the idea that wellness programmes have a positive impact on the bottom-line benefits. It is in the interests of employers to have healthy and productive employees; as such, wellbeing could be a natural part of an organisation’s values.
It can bring gains in productivity and innovation. So, it’s not just about dealing with things when they go wrong, it’s about dealing with our people as people.
“We should provide an environment in which people can thrive and prosper. Where they feel wellbeing when they come through the door of our workplaces. And there’s a strong commercial case for wellbeing at work.”
It is a complex subject, but there are two ways in which we can deal with wellbeing. I call these the Why of Work and the How of Work.
Employees who find meaning in their work have more wellbeing, are more satisfied and more productive. It’s shining a light on work. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE said: ‘There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organisation’s overall performance; employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energised employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.’ That is the why of work.
This and the nature of work can have a significant effect on wellbeing and a good work culture is something that we should all look to provide opportunities for.
Providing a healthy working environment by creating healthier workplaces is on the radar of all enlightened public and private sector organisations. Such things as health promotion, health checks and occupational health support are of course part of this; but also, the realisation that a good physical working environment is essential if we are to have an engaged, well-motivated workforce.
A healthy environment is more than physical exercise. It’s about well or ergonomically designed working areas on the one hand and space to network and become socially engaged on the other. The nature of the physical space can impact on wellbeing which in turn can impact on productivity, considerably enhancing the performance of a business.
About Paul Turner: Former HR Director of Lloyds and President of Employee Care for the Convergys Corporation in the US and as Vice President of the CIPD.
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