A Model for Wellbeing at Work

In Self-Management

By Michael Tonkin

The general health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace has never been more in the spotlight than it is today. Wherever you turn, organisations are talking more and more about how to better support the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees as they gear up for another big year ahead.

Why Now?
In simplistic terms, there are two organisational extremes when it comes to creating urgency around wellbeing at work.

Profile #1:
Organisations that have been quick to understand the strategic link between wellbeing at work and employee engagement/productivity. They have decided to take a proactive approach to making wellbeing at work a strategic priority in becoming an employer of choice alongside the more traditional business drivers of sales and profitability.

Profile #2:
Organisations caught in the acceleration trap with incredibly ambitious targets and shifting priorities where employees are challenged by intense workloads and fewer resources. The people metrics in these organisations tell the story and give employers no choice but to stop, take stock and rethink their people and performance strategy to get things back on track.

For both profiles, and all the organisations somewhere in the middle between both, the calendar year of 2018 presents as a significant year for organisations to lead the way and invest deeply in the wellbeing of their employees. Not only does it improve every business metric imaginable; it’s also the right thing to do.

What does Wellbeing at Work mean for today?

For many years the health and wellbeing focus for organisations was solely on the physical safety of their employees and reporting on lost time through injuries. Then in the 1980’s we saw the implementation of corporate gyms, an obsession with improving the time management skills of their employees; organisations then dabbled with nutrition in the 1990’s and for the best part of the last 15 years, we have seen stress management and mental wellbeing take centre stage.

It has only been the past few years that organisations have taken on a more proactive and holistic 360-degree view of their employee’s health where all pieces of the wellbeing at work jigsaw puzzle have shared equal billing.

A more modern day view of Wellbeing at Work can be described by the following focus areas:

  1. Mind
    What’s the mental health and resilience of employees?
  1. Body
    What’s the physical health of employees?
  1. Purpose
    Are our employees connected to our purpose and vision?
  1. Place
    Does the physical and social environment and leadership of the organisation support and enable wellbeing?

MFL’S Capability Framework for Wellbeing at Work
Our model for wellbeing at work focuses on the six capabilities for employees to maintain wellbeing in the workplace. Each one of these capabilities is a mix of skills/mindset and together represent a 360-degree view of wellbeing at work, that is, you need all six working for you to be truly successful.

At Maura Fay Learning we have a 30-question Wellbeing at Work Index to measure each of the six capabilities. Some interesting findings from our research to date includes:

  • Employees within the same organisation and within the same team report very different scores, reminding us all that Wellbeing at Work is part environmental but also highly influenced by the skills and mindset of individuals.
  • Team members who are struggling with their Wellbeing at Work are less likely to tell their manager.
  • It is near impossible for a leader with a low Wellbeing At Work score to successfully lead their team.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect score for employees; there’s always room for improvement.
  • There is no one capability that positively influences the remaining five. For example, you might assume that if an employee rated high in ‘Choose Happiness’ or ‘Go Healthy’ then the employee would be more likely to rate high on the others. This has not been the case so far.

What’s Next for Wellbeing at Work?
If you had a $50,000 budget for people development in 2018 and you had to choose between investing in the Wellbeing at Work capability or putting that spend towards your national conference, which option would you go for?

Chances are, most organisations in the past would opt for the national conference but in the future it won’t be so clear cut.

Education on Wellbeing at Work will be one of the biggest ticket items in town in 2018, where employers and teams immerse themselves into wellbeing best practice and start to really explore all six capabilities and the link between wellbeing and a deep sense of personal fulfilment.

If you would like to discuss our unique approach to Wellbeing at Work start a discussion with us today.

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