So, you’re responsible for wellbeing and engagement in your business and you’ve invested in a comprehensive approach that is designed to maintain and improve levels of both. You’ve consulted with the HSE and other experts and you feel like you have the makings of a successful wellbeing strategy. But, has your set of wellbeing initiatives got an ‘identity’ – a compelling brand that engages your workforce with the various aspects of your approach to wellbeing and engagement?

When I talk to wellbeing professionals in public and private sector organisations, I find that this is very often an area that gets forgotten when it comes to planning the investment in wellbeing. And this is risky – because you can have the best strategy, conduct a high quality risk assessment, consult openly and implement fantastic interventions for your staff, but if they don’t buy into it success will be limited. That is, unless you can bring it all together under a single ‘umbrella’ and communicate this effectively to staff it’s very difficult to build the kind of momentum required to move to a wellbeing culture.

So what is a wellbeing brand? Well, it’s much more than just thinking up a name for your wellbeing strategy. It’s about involving the key stakeholders for wellbeing at an early stage and working with them to explore the essence of the term – that is, defining what wellbeing really means ‘around here’. So typically, when consultants at my University Spin-off company, Robertson Cooper, work with clients on branding wellbeing they will assemble a broad cross-functional group (HR, Occupational Health, Divisional Health & Safety Managers, Internal Communications, General Line Managers) and facilitate a one day branding workshop. The aim is to consider what wellbeing means to your key organisational stakeholders – i.e. what value would working in a ‘well organisation’ add to their working lives.

As businesses work through this process a picture starts to emerge from the bottom upwards of what your staff mean when they talk about a working environment characterised by ‘wellbeing’. It is also an opportunity to link wellbeing to popular existing initiatives, strategic aims and other positive brands around the organisation. What you end up with is a set of 4-6 statements that sum up the kind of organisation that your wellbeing strategy will deliver for staff. Once you have this information you can start to consider a name for the strategy to pull it all together and then you can consult with internal stakeholders more broadly to gather feedback on the emerging brand.

The power of having a high quality brand name is immense – look at how it works for the commercial giants of our age – Nike, Coca Cola, Ebay, YouTube, the Olympics, all have an attractive set of values attached to them. But it’s no different inside your organisation – and because you will have established a relationship with Internal Communications through the above process you can now work with them to promote your wellbeing brand actively. Together, you can work to ensure that every new wellbeing initiative that is launched is clearly branded as being part of your wellbeing strategy. 

Over time your wellbeing strategy can become a valued and respected part of working life for staff, but this is very unlikely to happen if you implement a series of disconnected wellbeing initiatives with no cohesive brand identity. Wellbeing is a cross-cutting issue – it touches health and safety, HR, management training, leadership development, talent management, Board Development and operational management (and more) – so we need to give it a strong brand identity if it is to thrive when we send it out there into all these areas!!

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Co-founder of Robertson Cooper, Cary set up the business with Ivan Robertson in 1999. A Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School, he is recognised as a world leading expert on wellbeing. Cary is also the media’s first choice for comment on workplace issues. He remains an active member of the Robertson Cooper team, focusing on strategy, external relations and PR activity.

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