There are a lot of people who think that workplace wellbeing is a nice to have. It is not. It is a must have. Particularly in the UK in terms of its productivity per capita. Which is extremely poor. When we are looking at the sickness absence figure in the UK for 2018, we see that 57% of all sickness absence is due to stress, depression or anxiety (Deloitte workplace mental health and wellbeing report). 57%! One of the highest of any country in Europe. Many organizations think about wellbeing as sushi at your desk, soya lattes, 10 minutes mindfulness exercise at lunch time. That’s not what wellbeing is about. Is the culture you create that makes people feel valued, safe and trusted.
In his Wellbeing at Work 2019 book, Gary Cooper proposes 3 basic solutions to approaching the matter of employee wellbeing:
1. Train your line managers from shop floor to top floor on their EQ skills – their emotional intelligence. We don’t come even close to doing this enough. Create a culture in which managers manage by using praise and reward systems rather than fault finding. A culture of trust in which you give your employees more autonomy at work, more control over their job.
2. Let people work much more flexibly than they currently do. In the UK two out of three couples are working couples, or single parents working. And they need flexibility. Thanks to technology people can work much more flexibly than they were able to do before. So we can get this balance quite easy. But is about organizations learning that not demanding that people show face time can actually increase their productivity.
3. Emails. This is one that everyone seems to ignore. Emails are killing people. Because it means that people have to be on 24/7. In France managers are banned by law to send emails to their employees outside the office hours. I would not do that if we want to work flexibly, but what I certainly would do is end the email culture.
If we’d only have managers that would enable these strategies we would be in a much better shape and our productivity per capita will not be 7th in the G7 or 17th in the G20. It would be much higher. It is not about apples on desks or free cinema tickets. It’s about changing your culture. Those organizations who understand this will be the ones that in the end will survive and flourish.