Creating an effective wellbeing strategy for your organisation can have a dramatic impact on organisational as well as individual development and performance.
It barely needs stating that employee wellbeing has never been more important. Our Mental Fitness and resilience has been under strain like never before. Employee recruitment and retention are becoming more and more challenging and the idea of ‘The Great Resignation’ is becoming an everyday narrative, representing the sense that people are ‘voting with their feet’ and leaving roles that don’t allow them to get the right balance in their lives between work and wellbeing.
So placing wellbeing at the heart of the organisation with a clearly defined strategy, and often most importantly, a strategy that is clearly understood, backed and invested in, is a vital component of any organisation.
So what are the steps to making sure Mental Fitness is at the heart of the organisation and what can we share on how to create a Wellbeing Strategy that’s effective and drives your organisation? Here’s our Cognomie view on some of the important steps needed to get Wellbeing to the heart of the business.
Audit – Every effective strategy starts with insight and a clear picture of the current situation
Gaining insight for both the business and individuals in the business is a vital starting point for tailoring strategy. Where is the business now in terms of wellbeing and Mental Fitness support? You can find out more about undertaking an audit here.
But for now start by asking some simple questions about the business.
What already exists to support employee wellbeing?
Who has ownership of the strategy? Does it sit with HR or Learning and Development, or somewhere else in the business? Or, ideally is it recognised as an imperative within the overall organisational strategy?
How does wellbeing align with current values and purpose?
How much understanding is there in different areas of the business about the potential value of wellbeing to business performance?
What are the 3 big challenges and the 3 biggest opportunities around developing a wellbeing approach?
Get a detailed picture of where individuals are in terms of their Mental Fitness strengths and areas for development.
At Cognomie we stimulate insight and awareness of Mental Fitness using 12 key foundations to bring method and focus. Understanding how everyone in the organisation ranks against these can help discover important patterns in play across the business (as well as providing the foundation for making sure individual needs are met). Develop an internal survey to assess individual’s Mental Fitness, or try our own Cognosis tool that we use for initial insight within organisations, to help us understand needs better and match those with our coaching team expertise.
Define objectives – be clear about what you want to achieve
In some businesses Wellbeing can too often be seen as an “add on”, a nice to have and a reflection of the supportive values of the organisation, but perhaps somewhat secondary to the core business strategy. It is so much more than this. It’s a driver of performance, of innovation and of talent attraction and retention. Potentially a well honed wellbeing strategy is one of the most powerful tools a business can have in improving the bottom line and ensuring sustainable long term growth.
Build on the findings in stage 1 to develop a set of objectives that clearly relate to achieving specific goals around improving individual Mental Fitness to a wider set of business objectives and KPIs.
Here at Cognomie it genuinely thrills us to work with organisations who are able to see how improvements over time in key areas of Mental Fitness impact on other business KPIs. What patterns will emerge in your business? Will improved stress scores aid retention? Will better sleep impact on innovation? Will strengthened resilience impact on company wide performance? Will changes in work/life balance affect employee engagement, retention and productivity? Case study after case study shows how better Mental Fitness will aid performance. But what are the specifics for your business?
Build a personalised whole person approach
There is no one size fits all to wellbeing. One of our “pet frustrations” leading the way in Mental Fitness is coming across examples of “yeah, we gave everyone a meditation app” or “our teams get gym membership” or “we changed the guidelines for home working” or “last year we gave our top team coaching support” as though any one of those things alone is a wellbeing strategy in itself. By definition every individual’s wellbeing needs are different. Shaping a strategy that works for individuals is harder than simply offering a single solution, but much more effective and rewarding. Here are some pointers:
- Start with the culture – create a culture of wellbeing where individuals feel liberated to tailor their Mental Fitness support for themselves
- Create self awareness – Whether it’s simple tools like benchmarking, or the greater support of cross team coaching, helping people understand their own Mental Fitness profile and being able to track this over time helps them to steer their own journey.
- Offer choice – Lots of businesses are used to offering different options as part of employee benefit packages. What else can be woven in to support wellbeing? And how can other tools such as flexible working help support flexibility and choice to allow people to tailor their own wellbeing approaches? One size does not fit all.
- Simple things matter – Sometimes change can be about the small stuff as well as big things. A recent study about resilience at work showed that one important source of resilience for some people was the simple act of being able to share their vulnerabilities and challenges with other team members and hearing that leaders were experiencing some as well. Simply creating space for that sharing to take place could have a big impact on achieving wider wellbeing objectives.
- Guidelines not policies – Policies can feel like the opposite of flexibility. However well intended they may be, they can sometimes simply replace one kind of rigidity with another. By creating guidelines around accessing wellbeing and services and flexible working the company can share the spirit of what they are trying to achieve and allow people to find their own way to achieve that.
- Involve and evolve – One of the best ways to build social capital and cultures of wellbeing in businesses is to create adaptive spaces. Don’t feel like you are expected to come with all the answers for a strategy. Create spaces of collaboration and involvement to shape the approach. And make strategy something that evolves based on ongoing feedback and continued involvement.
Connect and communicate
How can you weave the strategy into the whole organisation? What is the role for different departments, individuals and teams? The first stage of connecting and communicating is often to work with individuals to work out what the approach can mean for what they do. Can wellbeing measures be incorporated into appraisal and evaluation structures? Can they be adapted to how different teams work and for different roles? By involving the right people in incorporating wellbeing into their area of the business at the right time, those people become ambassadors and influencers for the strategy once rollout begins. The idea of “rolling something out” often implies the idea of suddenly revealing something secret. Hopefully by the time this occurs different levels of the organisation are already aware, involved and engaged with the new approach. But that shouldn’t rule out being able to generate buzz and excitement about any new approach and a sense of “launching something new” within the organisation. One of the hallmarks of a wellbeing considered culture is that it is a culture where people talk about wellbeing. Time to get everyone talking, sharing and involved!
Evaluate and Refine
Strategy evolves. So does wellbeing. Taking a data driven approach to developing a wellbeing strategy creates the opportunity for regular review, reflection, celebration and evolution. Share wins, celebrate how changes in individual Mental Fitness impact on the wider organisation, combine team level KPIs with business level measures to show how having wellbeing at the heart of the organisation impacts on organisational success at every level. Personally at Cognomie we love the way using data to celebrate wellbeing has its own “feel” within the organisation. It is business performance told through human stories of resilience, self development and the highs and the lows of managing constant change. It’s not just about wellbeing, it’s about the future of business and the future of how we all work.
Want to take this further?
Do you want to find out more about how to create a Wellbeing Strategy and make your Wellbeing Strategy the driving force behind your organisation?
Do you want to learn how your own Mental Fitness can be the framework for understanding how you can develop greater self-awareness and grow in your own capability and resilience?
Or, if you play a role in your organisation’s development and that of those who work with you and their Mental Fitness, we’d love to talk.