Welcome to Thrive – A Blog Series about Wellbeing

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Balancing work and life is tough on us human beings and often we make it even tougher for ourselves by using unhelpful thought processes, believing the stories we tell ourselves, and not looking after our wellbeing. In her new blog serieswe will share tips, experiences and ideas that will help you manage stress more effectively and develop your resilience in order to perform at your peak and feel better, happier and calmer every day. This blog is here to support you in being mentally, physically and emotionally fit for business and life in general.

Developing a Culture of Wellbeing

‘Organisational wellbeing’ and ‘employee wellness’ are the new kids on the block when it comes to business buzz words. These kids have started to hang out with their pals, the ever popular ‘employee engagement’ and the kid that we try and pretend isn’t really there but pops up at all the parties anyway, ‘mental health’. What an interesting and costly little gang they are for businesses in the UK.

We know that absence, sickness and presenteeism cost organisations a fortune every year and these figures are going up. And so we invite engagement, wellness, wellbeing and (maybe, if we’re feeling particularly brave) mental health to the party, to try and counteract the damage that absence, sickness and presenteeism is having. However what gets forgotten is that we can’t just invite them to the party; we have to actually engage with them, feed them, keep their drinks topped up and generally look after them if they’re to be of any use to us. Just ticking them off the attendee list is nowhere near enough. And by ‘ticking them off the attendee list’ I mean thinking that providing free fruit on a Wednesday, having an employee assistance programme or offering a subsidised gym membership is enough to promote wellbeing. Whilst all these things are worthy in themselves and may well form part of your wellbeing strategy they absolutely have to be underpinned by a culture change for them to make any real difference to your people or your bottom line.

Thrive imageWellbeing is not about perks or quick fixes, it’s about creating an environment in the workplace where people can thrive and offer their best selves during the hours they’re working. It’s about creating a culture where it is not normal working practice to answer emails late at night, work weekends and evenings, be proud of how little holiday you take each year and where stress is worn as a badge of honour. If you can do that then you’ll find that engagement goes up and absence, sickness and presenteeism go down. It’s a no-brainer. But how do you do that when we appear to have created a society where the opposite mind-set is dominant – we boast about how little we relax, how fast paced our lives are, how impossible it is to take time off.

A starting point for businesses:

  1. Make it clear that no one is expected to respond to email outside of working hours
  2. Encourage people to book their full allocation of holiday
  3. Encourage people to take breaks during the day and eat lunch away from their desks
  4. Base your decisions about people on what they deliver not how much time you see them in the office
  5. Encourage managers to set a good example
  6. Start this at the top, be overt in your expectations and expect your managers throughout the business to do the same

A starting point for employees:

  1. Don’t check, read or write emails once you get home
  2. Book all your holiday for the year
  3. When you leave work learn to leave it mentally as well as physically
  4. Take a walk at lunch time
  5. Take a short break every 90 minutes
  6. Leave work at a sensible time on a regular basis
  7. Don’t wait for permission to do these things
  8. Encourage your colleagues and managers to do these things too

Let us be clear, this is not about never working overtime, never feeling stretched or always working to rule – it is about creating a culture where we look after ourselves and our employees better so when we do put in longer hours or have a period of high pressure we can recover quicker. And none of this costs a single penny; you just have to be willing to do things differently.