Organisations need to think of employee wellbeing as a continuum, rather than a series of ad-hoc initiatives. To do this, we need to begin to influence thinking and engage employees and their managers in wellbeing.
This involves education and breaking through into other elements of physical wellbeing, such as nutrition, work design and environment. Employers are already making real headway here, with everything from information campaigns to gym memberships, free health checks and incentives for smoking cessation or weight loss.
Nevertheless, it is also at this point that employers begin to encounter headwinds and ethical dilemmas, such as whether their interest should stop at the office door or extend to what staff should be eating.
There are yet more challenges when we move further along the continuum and start to consider the ‘whole employee’, combining physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the wider elements of an individual’s lifestyle. Many organisations get stuck here, uncovering challenges around engagement, attitude and manager capability.
To conquer this and move further toward the ultimate ambition of creating and leveraging a culture of wellbeing requires real change. Role modelling the right attitudes from the top becomes vital and success is judged on ‘walking the walk’. Why? Because what characterises this cultural transition is whether employees feel that an organisation is being truly authentic in its stance around wellbeing.
Nick Kemsley is director at N Kemsley Consulting Ltd