In 2021, most businesses understand that wellbeing is an important part of their cultural or HR responsibilities. However, while a lot of people realise that they need to be doing something, it can be difficult for managers and business leaders to plan coherently for wellness and wellbeing in their teams.
So, how do businesses work on wellbeing in a structured and serious way? One answer is to create a wellbeing strategy. This strategy formalises the initiatives you take on wellbeing and wellness, ensuring that everybody in the company is aware of what’s on offer, and what they can expect. This strategy can vary widely depending on the company, so it’s important to make sure to develop it according to what your business needs.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can begin thinking about how to create a wellbeing strategy for your business, as well as why it’s so important to have one in place.
Why is a wellbeing strategy so important?
There are a number of business reasons why a wellbeing strategy is essential. Promoting wellbeing in the workplace leads directly to increased productivity, reduced absence rates and improved retention. It is also a great recruitment tool, which is especially important in the challenging post-pandemic recruitment market. Essentially though, it is about showing that, as a business, you care about your people.
Having a resilient, engaged and productive team will, put simply, lead to happier people doing better work. Evidence suggests that people feeling happy, safe and secure in their jobs leads to better problem solving and increased efficiency in their job roles.
It’s also a vital part of your response to the pandemic. Many companies are struggling with a wave of post-pandemic burnout as home working and the stress of lockdowns take their toll. Having a properly thought out wellbeing strategy can reduce workplace burnout, which is absolutely vital during this difficult time.
Ok, so now I know I need one, where do I start?
A good starting point is to think about what wellbeing means to you in your organisation. Many wellbeing strategies focus on the physical elements of wellness such as private medical insurance, gym memberships or lunchtime yoga. However, research shows that engagement with these initiatives can be low, which does not represent good value for money. Equally, if the organisation is not able to provide time for people to take part in these initiatives your people will view this as a tick box exercise that offers an empty promise with much eye rolling about how they haven’t got time to take part.
This is why it is best to think about a wellbeing strategy that is tailored for your business and your people, and that it takes a holistic approach.
There are many definitions and models of wellbeing which we will be looking at in a future blog post. At The Thrive Lab we look at wellbeing through different perspectives and help you evaluate where it would be most beneficial to start.
As you look to lead change through wellness you could start by asking yourself some of the following questions in each area:
Individuals: How can we help others in our organisation to create wellbeing and build resilience? This includes thinking about a person’s physical and emotional health alongside their social, financial and occupational wellbeing.
Leadership: How can we create wellbeing through supporting managers and leaders to build trust within an organisation, coach people to be their best, to ensure people are given the opportunity to use and showcase their unique strengths, to enable people to feel heard and support others to learn, grow and develop?
Teams: How can we create teams with high levels of trust, psychological safety and good communication?
Culture: How can we create a culture that cares about its people, that shares its values and mission so that others can feel a sense of purpose through their work and creates opportunities for growth, development and success?
How do you implement a wellbeing strategy?
Firstly, engage your people across the business, using wellbeing polls questionnaires and open discussions. This stage is about information gathering, both in terms of getting a good view of all the wellbeing initiatives already in place as well as canvassing for ideas of new things you could establish. You could use polls, surveys, focus groups and wellbeing questionnaires to start to gauge the temperature and current challenges facing your organisation.
Alternatively, you can use accredited psychometric measurement tools and assessments such as WRAW. This resilience based psychometric measurement tool helps organisations evaluate the resilience of individuals, leaders and organisations and helps you build strategies based on the 5 pillars of resilience. Strengthscope is also a useful tool for assessing strengths within teams and leaders so that strengths-based working can be implemented into your wellbeing strategy. The benefit of using these tools is that your wellbeing strategy can then reflect your current needs and investment can be tailored to specific interventions accordingly. The Thrive Lab offers both of these as an option for your wellbeing strategy.
This stage is also about encouraging buy in for the new strategy across the company by asking everybody to contribute and allowing your teams to take ownership of and responsibility for the new strategy. Strong buy in from the leadership team is essential to demonstrate that wellbeing is of importance to the organisation. If organisations don’t yet have a wellbeing lead, now is the time to appoint one and put wellbeing at the heart of the agenda at board level. Decide at this stage how you want to measure the impact of your wellbeing strategy and begin to log the data before putting anything in place.
Create a plan that serves the needs identified in your initial assessment. There is no point discovering that 70% of employees are feeling overwhelmed by the expectation to be available 24/7 and then not address the culture and leadership that has led to this. As we’ve mentioned, take a holistic approach and include as much detail as you can.
The importance of your managers in creating a culture of wellbeing is pivotal to your success. Gallup found that people with a bad manager had even worse wellbeing than people without jobs. However, managers are also the people who are most likely to be struggling with the demands of their role leading to stress and burnout. It has been found that the quality of a person’s experience at work has the most impact on a person’s wellbeing over and above the number of hours worked or the offer of a wellness programme that includes free lattes and a ping pong table. Also think about initiatives and policies around specific touchstones and life changing moments for people – parenting, menopause and grief for example. When life gets tough, work can suffer. Having the offer of life coaching available has been positively received in some organisations.
Then, integrate the strategy, as you would any other business strategy. Get buy-in from the relevant stakeholders, start any new initiatives and formalise any old ones under the new strategy. Take note of any feedback you get, and continue iterating on your strategy as needed. Your strategy might start small and build in response to feedback or you could launch a bigger strategy around many of the different elements of wellbeing we have discussed. As with anything there are many different ways to approach this and it is important to choose one that suits your organisation and the level of time, commitment and investment you are willing to put in.
You will want to decide early on what you want to measure, how to measure it and how to assess the impact of your interventions. You can measure the effectiveness using a variety of methods, including engagement surveys, productivity rates, absence rates and staff retention. Stay tuned to our blog for another article on this coming soon. Through your evaluations and reviews you will then be able to change and adapt your policy to match the needs of your people.With the correct approach your wellbeing strategy will enable your organisation to thrive alongside its people.
What wellbeing strategy do you see as being most important to improve wellbeing in your organisation? We would be interested to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below or send us a message if you would like to find out more.