This article addresses the need for well-being initiatives in the workplace as a silver bullet for thriving organizations. It covers highlights from 2021 that lay the ground for setting processes in organizations supporting positive mental health as an outcome. Lastly, I offer suggestions on creating a baseline to address these issues.
2022 is still a year of recovery from the pandemic for workplaces. Although vaccines were starting to roll out and there was an expectancy of normalcy we were subjected to a lack of wellbeing at the workplace. According to the APA work & wellbeing survey 2021, a psychologically healthy workplace to support employee mental health is the goal moving forward.
Workplaces have undergone tremendous amounts of forced changes such as moving remotely then adapting to hybrid work. Amongst these, noted issues were job burnout, stress, and connection in the workplaces as noticeable downers. Clearly marking the loud need for wellbeing initiatives at work.
However, achieving psychologically healthy workplaces is harder than we think, mostly because mental health issues are invisible. The meaning of a psychologically healthy workplace differs from organization to organization. Unavailability of mutually agreed metrics around the world that captures wellbeing at work. Positive mental health in organizations is an outcome of sensitive and inclusive processes. Undoubtedly, companies have been more supportive of employees’ well-being through insurance, resources, and paid time off than ever before.
Having said that, it is not enough to create long-lasting change centered around wellbeing. According to Gallup, thriving employees report ‘significantly fewer health problems and less worry, stress, sadness, depression, and anger. Additionally, more hope, happiness, energy, interest, and respect was reported.’ If one were to narrow down to essentials of wellbeing for employees, Clifton & Harter (2021) mentioned- career, social, financial, physical & social wellbeing. Some actionable steps to cultivate wellbeing are:
Playing people’s strengths: Most team members, while working in teams, don’t play their strengths. However, when people are doing tasks that naturally energize them, you increase team trust and team engagement. Team strengths should be your focus even before building the team. This also means employees will feel less burnout from the task or role-related mishaps.
Cultivating compassionate managers: Managers are the make or break for organizations. Empathy is feeling what another living thing feels. Compassion is putting yourself in the shoes of another person and seeing the world through their lens for the sake of alleviating their suffering. Using this approach means that managers can offer better support in daily work.
Well-being is an integral part of career conversations: Employees need to know that well-being is important. This means leadership needs to trickle this down from top to bottom. bottom. Equating the importance of goals, quarterly targets to having regular health check-ins and ensuring employees are celebrated, come together and believe in the purpose of the company. This sets a precedent for talent sustainability. While this is a great starting place, it does not promise longevity. Nothing does unless constantly practiced as a habit and embedded into the culture. Creating integrative initiatives, taking external help from wellbeing coaches, check-ins, and evaluation of people’s wellbeing.
Most organizations enroll in employee assistance programs or get gym memberships and so on but this does not solve the real problem. Instead, it seems like using finances to evade the problem. Well-being at work is essential to retain employees and enable them to be their best selves — and it’s important to stay on top of how to promote wellness in the workplace so you can continue to improve workplace well-being. This is why employers’ investing in well-being need to address mental health issues, create systems that are people-friendly. Creating organizations focused on wellbeing is surely a work trend for 2022.
About the author:
Ms. Shruthi Sriram
MA Business & Organizational Psychology and MSc Psychology, HRDM from Steinbeis- Hochschule, Berlin and Christ University, Bangalore.
Dual Masters in Psychology & a first rank holder in both – MA Business & Organisational Psychology and MSc Psychology, HRDM from Steinbeis-Hochschule, Berlin and Christ University, Bangalore. Works as an organizational psychologist to create organizations focused on employee-centricity. She loves to study systems and currently consults & trains organizations using psychometric tools and interventions for healthier cultures.