5 Factors for Leader &
Employee Wellbeing

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It might come as a surprise to some, but the way to an employee’s heart does not lie in Meditation rooms, Ping-Pong tables or Baskin and Robbins Icecream on tap, nor is it a direct output of the snazzy office decor (although we do have a call centre which is kicking goals adding these into the environment). However, I digress – if your staff are screaming for equal rights, to be heard and workplaces free of bullying and harassment – I’m afraid no amount of icecream is going to change that. 

Employee well-being encompasses both physical and non-physical needs, which means prioritising areas that are often overlooked, such as equality and sense of “fairness”, shared values and true motivations.

Based on research in behavioural science, employee well-being is defined as having one’s basic needs met (e.g., economic stability, physical health), feeling that one has a purpose and feels valued (expressed by intrinsic interest and utilising one’s full self at work), and feeling like you belong  (through supportive relationships), (being valued for the full range of skillsets and characteristics) and feeling happy (high satisfaction). 

Despite the initial challenges of the work-from-home transition, people have adapted well (with the exception of a few managers), with employers now finding it hard to fill office spaces and questioning whether they need one at all. Or in some cases, employers are changing the workplace design and environment to meet the needs for connection or concentration into the office to motivate people to leave their home offices. 

In fact, one could say that those with the biggest issue in the transition to work from home are bosses who prefer to have everyone in one place and go back to business as usual without identifying the real needs of employees and using the office to meet those changing needs (back in the office).

 

Where did it all go wrong? Many offices have tended to be an environment of anxiety, bullying, stress, time wasters and pointless and senseless meetings which reduced the ability for people to connect with their purpose, provided a hostile work environment or a place where “optimal flow” was having to be achieved outside of work hours which meant longer hours.

Whilst the office can provide an environment of anxiety, it can also provide an environment that is supportive, challenging, motivating, social, connected, and creative. These types of environments provide a great place for people to work, build a sense of identity and purpose and valuable connections.

But working from home has a “dark side” too. Too much working from home can create loneliness, isolation, a tendency to forget social and conversational skills, reduce concentration and collaborative efforts.

In order to reconcile maintaining a positive organisational “office” culture striving ahead in innovation, customer experience, organisational knowledge and collaboration, business owners, leaders and managers must begin by understanding what the underlying factors are influencing team and employee well-being.

People Plus Science are founders of the Psychological Safety in Boardrooms studies which looks at boards, leadership and management teams and front line teams. These studies highlighted the five psychological factors critical to employee wellness and workplace success, with a special focus on the work-from-home environment.

 

Here are the five factors for employee well-being. 

  1. Trust 
    Employees want the certainty that they can trust their colleagues, leadership, and organisation as a whole. One thing that is particularly worrisome to employees who prefer to work remotely, is the feeling of being monitored, which they feel is a cause of distrust from employers towards employees. This “monitoring” has been particularly popular with offshore outsourcing but some could argue the wrong metric is being used to measure “productivity”.  The People Plus Science Psychological Safety Benchmark reported that only 36% of frontline employees trusted the decisions being made from executive leadership teams.  When trust is low…home is a safer place to work and hide.
  2. Creativity
    Creativity is described as being able to have alone time, flexibility, and a supportive work culture, all of which are necessary for the birth of ideas and innovation. In many cases creativity thrives in doing the routine or monotonous – traveling on the train, showering, deep relaxation, light sleep. In order for creativity to develop into successful innovation having room to think, process, exchange and collaborate is important. Too often we have a meeting and expect answers straight away as opposed to giving people time to think and come back with ideas. Brain storming is often done incorrectly with the most productive methods being overlooked for expediency. According to the Gerome report 92% of startups fail and 54% of innovating organisations have trouble bridging the gap between innovation strategy and the broader business strategy.
  3. Collaboration
    A collaborative work culture is characterised by a shared understanding of goals and objectives, as well as the ease of communication with colleagues on how best to achieve these.This is an issue as whilst many senior executives and boards believe that they have a high level of collaboration (24%) whilst employees reported only 3% within the same organisations. A Boston Consulting Group study found that open collaboration was a significant factor in innovation success with the most successful reporting open collaboration 77% of the time compared to those who fail reporting 23% of the time. 
  4. Belonging & Connection
    Connection is  essentially, allowing people to form meaningful relationships with colleagues  so that they feel they are part of a community. This means being clear on values, guidelines (accountability) but also creating an environment where it is easy to share stories, get to know each other and move beyond transitional conversations. To feel like you belong and are really connecting people need to move beyond initial conversations so this requires in many cases upskilling in team communication, cross cultural competencies and time for connection.
  5. Psychological Safety
    Psychological safety is founded on trust, respect and permission to participate fully in work so that people feel empowered via connection and belonging, by being able to ask for help and learn, by contributing to conversation, by trouble shooting and finding better ways to do things. But, it needs to be nurtured with an environment that does punish, humiliate or punish people speaking out or contributing. The opposite of psychological safety is a hostile work environment, micro management, exploitation, brilliant jerk syndrome, superstars culture bullying and harassment. 

 

Interestingly, the first four factors are all characteristics of psychological safety.  Psychological safety is on one axis the level of trust and respect within a team environment. On the other axis is the level of participation a person feels “comfortable” providing. Level 1, a sense of belonging and connection. Level 2, the ability to ask for help and safety to learn at your own pace. Level 3, the ability to contribute and offer opions and feedback. Level 4, the ability to use creativity to generate new ideas, processes and systems that improve upon what is already in existance. 

Organisations who seek to have teams in customer service, innovation, change need to create environments of psychological safety. Organisations relying on culturally and cognitively diverse workplaces need to have psychological safety. Organisations requiring staff to do more with less, and upskill on the job, need to have a commitment to psychological safety. Organisations who wish to pursue product and service development, innovation and collaborative projects need to create psychological safety.

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To build resilience in teams and individuals at work, People Plus Science has developed resilience training and organisational resilience assessment tools,  based on positive psychology, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence. 

Our assessment tools assess the psychological safety of teams, the influence and impact of leaders, organisational resilience, employee value propositions, strategic understanding, trust diagnostics, employee engagement and cross-cultural mapping.

Our training focuses on the five intelligences: emotional, social, conversational, cultural and attentional

For more information on the Five i’s of Team Resilience or to conduct a “People Audit” please get in touch.

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