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COVID-19: Strengthening Company Culture through Wellness

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Organisational culture encompasses values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business.

Dr. Elliot Jaques’ list of organisational values that employees gain full commitment from are fair and just treatment, leadership interaction, accountability and vision. Together these areas make up organisational culture.

It is the role then of leaders at all levels within the organisation to make these values very real. The actions they take, the development of teams, the values they live and work by need to visibly reinforce the culture of the organisation. In some ways, this has never been clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders shape the culture through the examples they set thus shaping how employees will operate.

Culture doesn’t just impact how employees are lead.Culture impacts everything from an organisations approach to marketing and sales to how they are perceived in the market by customers and future employees.

To drive a real culture of wellness organisations, need to value it and understand that having healthy, happy employees is good for business, drives profit and impacts operating models.

Wellness is no longer seen as a “nice to have” it’s a valuable strategic priority that is underpinned by a strong culture. So how do you cultivate one?

A Culture of Wellness Starts with You

It’s important to understand where the responsibility lies when it comes to health and wellbeing. Of course, it is the responsibility of the employee to take steps to look after their own health and well-being, however, employers need to support employees and drive a culture of health.

Employers have a responsibility to make sure that employees leave in the same physical and mental state that began work that morning. Cultivating a culture of wellness goes far beyond having a wellness programme. It means leading with wellness at the front of mind.

It’s being able to lead in a way that puts enough pressure on people to get things done but that does not cause mental harm or distress.

It’s about creating open relationships where people can put their hand up if they are overwhelmed or need support and where this is met with empathy, openness and support.

It’s leading by example and showing employees that you care about your own health. If the boss expects everyone to be well and healthy, but is still in the office after hours, working weekends and not taking holidays, employees won’t feel that a culture of wellness exists.

Only when you look after yourself and lead from example can you truly form a culture of wellness. This is outlined further in The S.L.O. Approach below.

Making Wellness Part of the Everyday

The S.L.O. Model is designed to help organisations move away from one size fits all wellness programmes to embedding wellness as part of their everyday culture.

It includes looking after yourself and ensuring leaders lead with wellness in mind, not in a way that diminishes others.

SELF:This means looking after yourself first and foremost and taking responsibility for your own health and well-being no matter your level of seniority. Many people know already that moving, eating well, getting enough sleep and relaxing is a step in the right direction. Actively indulging in steps to enhance and maintain health and wellness should be a priority.

LEADER:As you move up the ladder, taking on responsibility for the health and welfare of others become part of the job. It is just as important as achieving targets or getting the project over the line.

From our research[i] we found that many of the main contributors to work-related stress were things like time pressure, emotional demands, long hours and work overload. Leaders often have control over these areas.

Leaders can have either a powerful motivating impact on the well-being of their teams or a diminishing effect that can lead to stress and burnout.

ORGANISATION:Organisations cannot simply state that wellness is a value. They need to live it every day with everything they say and do from the top down. When employees can say with honesty that your organisation is a great place to work, you will know it is because they lead with wellness in mind.

A culture of wellness does not happen overnight. It takes a strategic, purpose lead decision that involves everyone in the organisation at every level.

Right now, managers have never had more pressure to be considerate to employee well-being while continuing to move business and targets forward. If a culture of wellness does not exist organisations will start to feel the burden of stressed out, demotivated and idle employees.

It’s never too late to start leading with wellness in mind and your re-imagined wellness programme should consider this a priority.

If you are interested in learning more about Re-Imagining Wellness in a Post COVID World click here to download or get in touch, I’d be happy to advise elysia.hegarty@cpl.ie