Ensuring wellbeing and culture during the pandemic

Once optimum organisational culture is in place, wellbeing will follow writes Frank Scott-Lennon from HR for Better Workplaces.

Never before has the term wellbeing been more used in work settings and organisations are busy finding out what this means for them and their people.

Many businesses are striving to provide a variety of initiatives and events like yoga or fitness classes with a view helping employee wellbeing.

“If organisations want to be really serious about wellbeing they must approach the topic from the basis of a deep look at the culture within their organisation”

There’s no debating that many of these are excellent in themselves and provide great opportunities for encouraging employees to look after their own wellbeing.

The heart of wellbeing

However, the provision of these is in danger of missing the point, as no amount of these initiatives will be fully successful unless the organisation realises that organisational culture is at the heart of wellbeing.

It’s worth now glancing at the key areas of culture associated with wellbeing:

Organisational Climate

  • Leadership Style at the top and on the ground
  • Good attitudes and behaviours around Diversity & Inclusion
  • A common supportive mode of working
  • Keen interest on the development of individuals
  • An organisation-wide behavioural focus on Helpfulness, Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Regular helpful conversations on performance and on maintaining consistency with organisational values

So, if organisations want to be really serious about wellbeing they must approach the topic from the basis of a deep look at the culture within their organisation, that implies that the senior leadership team (and successive management teams) must focus on the above aspects of organisational culture and their role in working hard to develop, enhance and maintain it.

If this does not happen, there is a serious risk that some of the well-intentioned wellbeing initiatives will in fact fall on barren ground. Leadership teams must not presume to know what their people need for their wellbeing at work, they must ask them and crucially, follow through with action using the information that they receive.

The importance of culture and wellbeing

This realisation of the importance of culture and wellbeing is all the more important in the pandemic and particularly now with Government indicating that the right to remote working will be brought to law in some as yet undefined form. It is hard enough to work on culture within a workplace environment, but it is even more difficult when you add in the concept of remote working which is undoubtedly here to stay. 

Here are some tips in relation to establishing a culture that is conducive to Wellbeing, particularly bearing in mind the future that will so much involve remote working. 

Management tips

  • Management not to assume they know how employees feel about their wellbeing. 
  • Ask them, particularly if you can use a fully anonymous questionnaire.
  • Take full heed of the feedback and implement all workable suggestions.
  • Use this as a base line and allow it provide improvement targets.
  • Make employee wellbeing a strategic imperative for the company.
  • Regularly review within the Senior Management Team your achievements against your expectations for establishing a culture that is fully conducive to Employee wellbeing.

Once all of this is in place, continue with developing your culture of wellbeing and a well-oiled set of thoughts and practices.

So, it is our view at HR for Better Workplaces that organisations must work hard on the above cultural aspects as they strive to build an optimal wellbeing environment for their employees.

The current pandemic, and perhaps more importantly the future remote working environment, puts pressure on organisation leaders to stay very close to their remote working employees. This is to ensure that the ‘distance’ that remote working places on employees is reduced by managers and team leaders maintaining regular contact with remote workers via some of the initiatives within the panel below.

Tips for Managers for staying in contact with Remote Workers

  • Telephone or Zoom at least every second day in a mode of support and helpfulness.
  • At least once per week make another call, this time in respect of priorities for the next week and how you might help.
  • Arrange for Zoom ‘get-together coffee breaks’ with other remote workers and those on the team who are not remote-working.
  • Check-in occasionally on any improvements that could be made to their remote working arrangements.
  • Make doubly sure that all remote workers are fully included in all communications coming from your team or the organisation as a whole.
  • At least every 4/6 weeks have a Performance Conversation with each remote worker, which conversation should focus on future priorities, support from you and personal development.
  • Provide training for Managers & Team Leaders in all aspects of inclusiveness for remote workers.
  • Make time to audit and adjust as necessary all policies and practices so that they reflect the needs of remote workers

Among its ongoing services, HR for Better Workplaces strives to continually help organisations in this culture approach to Wellbeing, about which we are passionate. This work includes conducting Wellbeing Audits and advising Management Teams on utilising the feedback for charting the way forward in developing the appropriate organisational culture.