People, and more importantly leaders within business have come to understand and appreciate the cultural benefits, productivity gains, and financial benefits of having a highly engaged team. According to Gallup, businesses with a highly engaged workforce are likely to see four times the financial return than their less engaged counterparts.
We know that ‘employee voice’; the ability to have input and drive initiatives forward, as well trusted leaders and a culture where the values are lived and breathed are the biggest drivers of engagement (Gallup, Cornell, McLeod). But first, it makes sense that people must be physically and mentally well, for any of these factors to have their greatest impact.
We know that the wellbeing sector is one of the fastest growing industries, and with good reason. With a technology facilitated, ‘always on’ culture becoming the norm, the risk of mental health issues, fatigue and anxiety can’t be overlooked. Stress is still cited as one of the biggest contributors to being able to perform at our best.
By ignoring wellbeing as the foundation to the engagement agenda, do we risk it all?
Wellbeing sparks the engagement fire
The boundaries between work and play are becoming increasingly blurred, especially with younger generations in the workplace. With an emphasis on putting more value on a connection to a higher purpose over monetary gain, this is driving more and more people to focus on their people more holistically.
We are witnessing a rising energy and desire to do ‘something’ about wellbeing by HR, marketing and even procurement teams. However, with this movement comes confusion around where to start. In many cases this is supported when initial, proactive efforts aren’t always met by similar positivity by employees.
A common example is hosting wellbeing weeks that are rolled out annually with much planning and preparation. Yet only 20% of people participate, with many sessions being attended by the same ‘converted’ population again and again.
A big part of what leaders want to talk about today is how to help their people be well in a genuine and engaging way, for the benefit of everyone involved.
Whats the magic formula?
If you get the balance right between engagement and wellbeing not only will you have a culture underpinned by a healthier base of employees, but you will also have a more engaged workforce who want to actively participate in doing their best work and go above and beyond for a business they feel cares for them.
However, without understanding the reality of people’s needs around wellbeing, how can we really engage with people and make an impact?
Although there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to supporting engagement through the foundations of wellbeing, we do have some top tips to share.
5 top tips to get started:
1. Lighting small fires
With any movement, especially with something as personal as wellbeing, lighting fires from the bottom up will support a change that will live on and evolve. However well designed the initiative is, it needs to be personal and meaningful to your people.
Start by asking your leaders why they want to focus on their people, and then ask your people what is most important to them. This will help cultivate an organic approach, with the right intentions, which is sustainable.
2. Lead by example
Role modeling behaviours and practices through senior leaders and middle managers will help support a culture change.
That means being strict with your non-negotiables, whether it be working a four day week post maternity, being mindful in not sending emails on a Sunday or committing to your weekly yoga class at lunchtime.
By role modeling behaviours to support balance, it makes it more acceptable for others to take time out for themselves and for people to adopt and practice behaviours to help them do their best work.
3. A joined up approach to healthy body and mind
Wellbeing can drive engagement and engagement can drive wellbeing. Mix it up.
True engagement is having a group of people who are ready to tackle the day ahead, regardless of what is thrown at them. By offering skills and coaching in resilience, change and idea generation you can equip people better to deal with pressure and take ownership.
4. Beware of fads
There is a clear disconnect between one off wellbeing initiatives and engagement.
Random, one off initiatives like a table tennis table in the canteen or sleep pods won’t have the desired effect unless part of something wider, that taps into the deeper issues.
Is this going to be something that will support wellbeing or is it another thing to tick off an already stressed persons list?
5. Dip your toe in
Baby steps are a good way to start to make a change in the right direction. For some, dipping their toe into the world of engagement or wellbeing via a bite size approach can work wonders. Giving employees a little taste can help test what lands well and what will have the most stick-ability to progress with a more holistic approach.
Setting people up with tools they can run with and lead the change making their selves, gives them ownership to embed it in the culture.
Want to know more?
We’ll be sprinkling the morning with fun and practical bite size learnings about wellbeing and engagement; to help shape your thinking on what fits best for you and how you can put this into action.
MD at Yoke Consultancy
Rachel has over 12 years management consultancy experience and combines this with an MSc in organisational wellbeing. www.yokeconsultancy.co.uk