It’s ‘Health and Wellbeing at work week’ and so our social media channels are full to the brim with events, reflections and suggestions for improving workplace wellbeing.
In a short series of posts this week, I’d like to press ‘pause’, take a step back and adopt a different perspective when it comes to wellbeing.
Lots of workplace wellbeing initiatives are well-intentioned, but ultimately fail to achieve their goals. There are so many reasons for this, including treating wellbeing like a discrete event, making top-down decisions on what employees should get to hear, failing to walk the wellbeing talk for the rest of the year and offering events that fail to live up to their claims.
I’ll return to these themes later in the series, but for now I’d like to remind readers (particularly HR professionals) of the importance of getting the basics right.
Instead of searching out new and innovative wellbeing events for your employees, I suggest you first look to the essentials of good work and get them right. These are the building blocks that contribute to people thriving at work.
Ensuring people can manage their workload. Providing managers with training to look after people. Managing change effectively. Giving people clarity of their role and responsibilities. Effectively managing conflict.
All this is clearly set out in the HSE management standards and is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for ways to address wellbeing issues.
It’s not that yoga’s bad, but…
The perennial favourite, yoga classes, could be great for some, a distraction for others. Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga and am an enthusiastic, if amateur, yogi. But it’s not the only way I look after myself. The relaxation yoga brings is little help when you have an overflowing email inbox, a micro-managing supervisor and a day of back-to-back Zoom meetings. Those challenges require a more system approach to improvement.
Ask employees what kinds of changes and flexibility they would welcome when it comes to wellbeing. You may be surprised what they say!
Take another look
Look at your own plans for workplace wellbeing and ask yourself: how joined-up are these ideas? To what extent to they help people be their best at work? Which of the building blocks of good work have I missed out?
Getting some meeting-free time, or support to manage workload may not be as exciting as a lecture from a former olympic athlete, but they could well make more of a difference for employees. And isn’t that what wellbeing week is all about?