When organisational wellbeing became a necessity rather than a luxury

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Tazmayn Goode photo
Tazmayn Goode
Wellbeing Consultant, Drake International

    Health and safety is the single greatest risk faced by boards. With the ultimate responsibility and resulting consequences of health and safety governance practices resting with boards, identifying, quantifying, and managing human capital risk has never been more important, or more threatening.

    Remember the days when wellness programs were a gimmick used for recruitment and retention purposes? A great way for marketing to showcase the perks of working for an organisation? Or when the evidence showed us that a happier workforce led to happier customers and higher profits, which resulted in simplified wellness programs being implemented to drive engagement and revenue.

    These were the days before director liability and industrial manslaughter laws transformed organisational wellbeing from a luxury to a necessity.

    The last few years have seen increasing WorkCover claims for not only physical injuries but for psychological ones as well. This is a troubling trend as the ramifications of not effectively identifying and managing these exposures could be disastrous not only for those making the claims, but for the organisation and its directors.

    The physical and psychological risks resulting from COVID-19, along with the financial uncertainty and lack of wellbeing as a result of the economic impact on companies and individuals, means organisations are met with yet another layer of complexity.

    Pivoting to a focus on prevention

    Where once the focus was mental health illness management, we now have the science, data, tools and evidence-based practices to pivot to a preventative program. A program designed to prioritise the prevention of breakdowns as well as physical and mental health issues.

    With our research showing that higher levels of employee wellbeing translate to up to 70% fewer safety incidents and employees who are 125% less likely to burn out, it makes proactively caring for employee wellbeing substantially more than a luxury, but rather a risk mitigating necessity.  

    All leaders have a role to play

    As the demands on and of employees continuing to rise and with a national mental health crisis on our hands, prioritizing wellbeing is the responsibility of every leader in an organisation – as opposed to that of a single department or “Head Of”. According to a 2020 workplace report by The Wellbeing Lab, employees who report feeling as though they are “consistently thriving” display the highest levels of work performance and productivity at an individual, team and organisational level.

    The same study indicates that from a leadership perspective, those who receive consistent and regular support (i.e. heartfelt care) from leadership, reported almost double the rates of positive wellbeing scores across all six measured pillars – positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment and health (PERMAH) – in comparison to those who received ‘care’ more seldomly.

    In fact, we now know that inconsistent and haphazard care is more ‘damaging’ to a leader-employee relationship than none whatsoever. This trend is based on the mental bandwidth it takes to adapt to an inconsistent leader, particularly when people are already feeling stretched by the constant state of change in their lives, post COVID-19.

    Whilst the web that weaves the complexities of wellbeing is made up of various individual initiatives, it would be remiss not to highlight the direct impact that leadership has on the overall wellbeing and ultimately performance of every individual in their team.

    Taking the first step towards a thriving company

    As with all continuous improvement plans, the key to improvement is taking the first step and gauging the current state of play. This can be achieved by using the 6 PERMAH pillars to measure wellbeing. When these six pillars are in balance, businesses can experience the result of optimal organisational wellbeing…a thriving company.

    To measure your current state personal wellbeing, complete your 3 minute PERMAH Survey. It is 100% confidential.

    "You don't get quality work when people are struggling with their quality of life,” Adam Grant.

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