This health and wellbeing strategy outlines 6 steps to creating healthy, happy and flourishing organisations.
There are many factors that contribute to our own personal wellbeing, which in turn impact upon how we function as we live and work. We only have to reflect on our own good days and bad days at work to know that our general health, our relationships and personal confidence all affect our contribution at work. In the same way, there are a whole host of factors that have a great influence on how an organisation as a whole operates and performs.
Various pieces of research link increased employee wellbeing and happiness with improved employee engagement and performance (e.g. reduced absenteeism, higher productivity and greater creativity).
Just some of the things that research has shown to be important in creating healthy, happy workforces are: employees having a personal confidence in themselves, feeling fit and healthy and having work-life balance; the work environment including the management system and job design and how employees are compensated and rewarded; relationships at work, job progression and the extent to which people can express themselves.
Health and well-being is an organisation-wide issue. Responsibility for health and well-being lies with every employee, manager and director and rarely can be addressed with a single solution. A once yearly health & well-being event or simply sending staff on a resilience workshop is alone unlikely to create a flourishing working environment, although these may be a part of the overall strategy. Below are 6 steps which provide a comprehensive and systematic approach to assist you in creating a health and well-being strategy that will enable your organisation to flourish.
Health and wellbeing starts with a having a clear purpose for developing a health and wellbeing strategy in your organisation. Just asking ‘why do we need to spend our time and money on this?’ is a critical first question to ask. Perhaps you have a higher than desired staff absenteeism, perhaps staff are not performing as you would like or are working excessive hours to get the job done; or maybe increased rates of discipline or grievances being brought to your attention.
It can be easy to jump straight in and spend valuable resources on activities with limited impact. A robust health and wellbeing strategy is built upon data from a thorough diagnosis of the organisation’s current health and will highlight what is already working and what your priorities for focus are. This involves canvassing the thoughts and opinions across your organisation and may include managers, staff, suppliers, customers who may have a valuable perspective. This can be done through staff surveys (the Happiness Works Survey is a particularly useful one for taking a systemic view of Health and wellbeing), one to one interviews and focus groups.
Having a clear vision and ensuring this is aligned to the organisation’s vision and values will provide a compelling touchstone from which to develop your health and wellbeing strategy. A great vision should be easily understood by all and have an emotional ‘pull’ providing a sense of motivation for its implementation. Clear objectives which break down the vision into manageable chunks will help you to formulate explicit practical statements of what you want your programme to achieve. E.g. a vision might be ‘that all employees feel alive in the work that they do and want to give 100% every working day.’ An objective may be ‘to reduce staff absenteeism from 3.5% to 2.5% per annum.’
Just as any individual requires a personalised plan for their peak health so does an organisation. Using the data from the diagnosis, and your vision and objectives as a guide, spend time creating a unique health and wellbeing strategy that builds on the organisation’s current strengths and works on those areas that will have the most significant impact. Involving a range of people with different experiences and skills in this process will help to ensure that all voices are represented and creative solutions are generated. Facilitated focus groups are a great way of engaging people from across the organisation. Ensure that your strategy is aligned to the overall vision and objectives and has clear, specific actions, with timescales for implementation and accountability.
Your strategy will give rise to a range of solutions which you will then need to deliver on. Failure to deliver will only serve to create discontent and worsen the health of your organisation. Delivery may involve workshops, development of online resources, a review of your compensation and rewards packages, job evaluation, leadership training, restructures – every organisation is different. Whatever you do implement ensure that your employees know about it - your internal communication will play a vital role here.
As you implement your strategy it is always useful to ask yourselves whether you are on track to achieving your vision and objectives. Regular progress reviews will help to achieve this and being prepared to do more of what is working and change things that are not. Evaluating the benefits of your interventions is also key, gaining a full picture of any wider impact your strategy is having on employees, customers and other stakeholders.
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Oswald, Andrew J. and Proto, Eugenio and Sgroi, Daniel, Happiness and Productivity. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4645.
Kendall, Ross. Linking employee engagement to performance. Ethical Investor, No. 98, Jan 2012: ISSN: 1445-1832. [cited 06 Jan 17].