Wellbeing that works

When we talk about wellbeing we don’t always mean the same thing.

For some it is about fitness. For others it’s about mental health.  For others, it is simply about physical health (the absence of disease).

There are so many lenses through which we can view a topic as broad as this; physical, psychological, nutritional, financial, social.

The World Health Organisation defines wellbeing as: Wellbeing is where each individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. 

Other ideas about wellbeing talk of thriving, flourishing or being your best self.  Some talk simply of happiness. 

When it comes to wellbeing in the workplace, different perspectives are taken.  Some organisations focus on managing absence and ill-health.  Others want to improve wellbeing to increase productivity.  Others consider it as part of their employer brand or corporate social responsibility.  

Whatever the overall aim or approach, there are three parties in the workplace wellbeing relationship; employees, managers and the organisation itself. 

The organisation is responsible for the strategy, plan, culture and resources.

The manager is responsible for enabling wellbeing within their own team, having wellbeing conversations, tackling behaviour likely to negatively impact upon wellbeing – as well as doing the managing ill-health stuff. 

The individual employee is responsible for their own wellbeing and what they choose to do to support it.

For wellbeing in the workplace to really deliver, all three roles need to be considered and addressed.

·         The development by the organisation of an overall strategy for employee wellbeing, with an operational plan to deliver it and budgets and resources allocated.

·         Managers trained in their role within wellbeing, capable of spotting the signs that something is wrong, able to have effective wellbeing conversations and understand how their role is capable of enabling or negatively impacting the wellbeing of others.

·         Both manager and organisation can provide permission – they can influence the organisational culture. 

·         Finally, employees who are enabled to focus on their wellbeing, can maximise the offering of the organisation and can raise areas of concern without fear. 

An approach that fails to take into account all three parties to wellbeing at work, won’t work.  You may be able to make small improvements but they will not have the potential impact of a holistic approach.   

For wellbeing that works, all three players must part of the game.