Linking Health, Productivity and Corporate Culture
As businesses grow and markets continue to evolve, extra efforts to differentiate themselves are essential to survive in the marketplace, not only in terms of their products and services but with their most important and culture producing asset: their people. For these businesses, achieving goals is heavily dependent on employees delivering on their commitments and maximizing organizational capability. Due to increased pressure, employees experience elevated levels of stress resulting in illnesses, workplace conflicts, unacceptable behaviors and poor performance.
What is fundamentally important to acknowledge is that stress is the end of a process, the beginning is how individuals manage their experiences on a daily basis. Do they make the right choices? Do they develop the right skills? Do they speak up when they need to? Do they develop the right habits? Do they manage themselves well?
This is where their organization can help. When a holistic approach to getting the best from people extends beyond hitting targets and focuses on the health and wellness of its employees, this can have a tremendous positive impact on behavior. It can also become a powerful differentiating factor for the organization as this impacts its culture as well as the organization’s brand.
In 1936, Psychologist Kurt Lewin published the equation: B = f(P, E), which states that behavior (B) is a function (f) of the person (P) in their environment (E). In other words, in order for a person to maximize their potential in any environment, the environment should be one that either encourages the right behavior or creates accountability for it. The reality of most work environments, however, is either that the environment is wrong and/or individuals display inappropriate behaviors. To see how this fits into health and wellness, we can ask the following: Do employees pay attention to their health and overall well-being? Do organizations take the concept of health and wellness seriously enough or create the type of environment that would encourage employees to do so?
In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors use a very powerful analogy to represent influence. It involves “The Rider,” “The Elephant” and “The Path.” The analogy implies that the rider is an individual, the elephant is the individual’s emotion (motivation) and the path represents the direction or steps that need to be pursued. In other words, to achieve any goal that one intends to pursue, one must be emotionally committed and that commitment or motivation becomes possible only if the “path” or steps are clear. If employees are forced, it removes the clear “path” and therefore the motivation.
Google and Zappos, for example, are companies that are heavily invested in finding creative ways to improve the health of their employees. At Google, the corporate wellness program focuses on the health, happiness, and work-life balance of its employees to help drive business growth. Zappos created, along with other initiatives, Wellness Adventures, where groups of employees from different departments go offsite for hour-long sessions which includes activities such as golf lessons, laser tag, and other activities that energize their employees.
A more formal approach to health and wellness can also be utilized by including the concept in the Performance Assessment: The process involves:
- Defining key behaviors and corresponding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Regularly communicating these idea to help employees feel that they are not in this alone, and
- Implementing the initiative throughout the organization.
What can alleviate concern for leaders is that these goals will not conflict with existing financial or process goals. The added advantage of this initiative is that employees will set their own health goals and use them as a guide to creating better habits.
According to the article, “The benefits of integrating workplace wellbeing into performance management” by Charlotte Rogers:
“Director of marketing and human resources Keith Kropman notes a significant link between wellbeing and productivity based on the company’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey. ‘The survey found that employers are losing on average 27.5 days of productive time per employee each year as staff take time off sick and also underperform in the workplace as a result of ill-health …’ says Kropman.”
It is therefore essential to increase awareness and focus on health and wellness throughout organizations to alleviate unhealthy habits, bad choices, and workplace stress so that they can produce happier and more engaged employees.
“Tony Ragoonanan is a Learning and Development Professional who brings creativity, credibility, and enjoyment to learning experiences and detail to the creation of Performance Management frameworks to improve productivity and outcomes.
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