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Part 4: Creating a health and wellbeing strategy that drives real culture change

In my last blog on ‘readiness’ and ‘making change stick’ I introduced the Good Day at Work model of wellbeing and change. Let’s now look at that model’s final two components which make up the ‘engine room’ of creating real change around health and wellbeing. Getting them right is the key to creating a wellbeing strategy that will drive real cultural change.

Change model

1 – Creating the ‘Good Day at Work’ mindset:

This is about ensuring your employees have the understanding, skills and capability they need to play their part in the success of your wellbeing strategy.

Your strategy should firstly outline what those skills and capabilities look like, then show how new and existing organisational processes can support their development.

This involves building on the awareness raising of the ‘readiness’ stage and turning that into real skills and capability that can be used independently by employees in their day-to-day work context.

2 – Creating permission and opportunity to change:

This is about you as an employer consciously creating an environment in which your employees can thrive. For example, ensuring that good levels of trust are in place and employees believe the business and its leaders have an authentic interest in their health and wellbeing.

Fundamentally, the business must show it is going in a direction that puts wellbeing at its heart; that it truly believes creating a healthy, happy workforce who experience more Good Days at Work is the right thing to do.

As an example, think about the difference between a flexible working policy operated as a ‘clock-in, clock-out’ process compared to when employees are trusted as adults to make good decisions about how they manage their time, performance and energy. These two realities are worlds apart.

At its heart, workplace wellbeing strategy is about getting the psychological contract right

These two components create the basis for a long-term commitment to workplace health and wellbeing. Work is changing, businesses are busy preparing for the so-called ‘future of work’ in all sorts of ways: from in investing in tech, planning workforce composition to introducing zero hours and flexible contracts.

At the same time, the psychological contract is evolving too – in this context it’s unavoidable.

So, when developing your wellbeing strategy, have a clear vision of what you want that psychological contract to look like. Make sure you understand how that differs from the contracts of the past, which are likely to have been more transactional and characterised by employee dependency.

Future employees want to be, and will be, more proactive and dynamic agents in this relationship. That is both and opportunity and a risk.

Whilst areas like ‘psychological contract’ and ‘trust’ can seem complex, if you accept that workplace wellbeing and associated strategies by their nature are cultural, they simply cannot be ignored.

Avoid the knee-jerk reaction, think bigger!

Wellbeing strategy is necessarily a whole-business process, so it’s not surprising that it can often start to feel very ‘big’ very quickly.

That’s why the knee-jerk reaction is to go for an intervention-driven approach. It may seem daunting at first to put in the work needed for a more strategic and sustainable solution, so you may be tempted to look for off-the-shelf solutions (e.g. an EAP or training courses) and evaluate their effectiveness on a standalone basis.

However, an organisation-wide approach really is vital here. True, when you start to look at important aspects of a wellbeing strategy like establishing a network of wellbeing champions and training line managers to support roll-out there will be more stakeholders (and budget holders) to manage and engage. However, the rewards for this investment upfront will pay dividends down the line, and bring the whole organisation along with you.

Are you just ‘doing wellbeing’ or are you ‘being wellbeing’?

As we saw in part one, only 40 – 45% of businesses have a wellbeing strategy – a number which has remained stable for the last 4 years.

I believe this is in large part due to the seemingly daunting nature of the task as outlined above, and is why intention is not always translated into action.

Thankfully, workplace wellbeing no longer ends up on the ‘luxury’ pile when it comes to corporate spend, but it can very easily end up on the ‘too-hard-to-do pile’ instead, and this is a real missed opportunity.

Ultimately, this not about ‘doing wellbeing’… it’s about ‘being wellbeing’; creating a vision and making an authentic commitment to it. This may take more effort and investment at the start- but like most things in life- quality and sustainability is the reward.

From helping you to ‘make some noise’, through to delivering a fully managed wellbeing strategy build – we’ll gear up your organisation, and your people, to thrive.


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