Blue Flower

I am often asked to outline the business case for Well-being. Although you would think this is relatively straightforward I would liken the task to describing Culture or Identity. It means so many things to so many different people. Of late I have described two arguments, one for the heart and one for the head. This is to make it clear to a range of people who may think very differently about the subject area.

Heart - By this I mean business people who focus very much on their people as the face of their company, with whom customers have a relationship, and with whom that relationship is vital for business success. In this case it is vital that they enjoy their work, draw great meaning and purpose from it, and talk fondly and with compassion about their employment; and employers.

Head - On the other hand, and without criticism, we have people who are concerned predominantly with the bottom line; how much is it all costing? One of the great features of Well-being is that it draws on both arguments, and combinations of such.

If we talk about the argument for the heart I would say that Well-being is not simply the absence of ill health, it is so much more. I would describe the common notion, physical health, sleeping well, eating the right things, plenty of exercise, no smoking and alcohol in moderation. I struggle to describe abstinence here! But also societal health is important, good friendship circles, relationships, confidence and ambition. I would associate this with psychological health, a good outlook on life and so on. It would be remiss not to mention financial wellbeing in the current climate also, which can really get us down, and although many commentators would argue it is not all about wealth, when we struggle financially it can bring everything else to bear so vividly.

If asked to describe the head, or fiscal business case, there are stark figures published on a regular basis that remind us of the cost of getting this wrong. According to the Office for National Statistics 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013. Mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety contributed to a significant number of days of work lost in 2013, at 15.2 million days. The CIPD reported that in 2013 the average level of sickness was 7.6 days per employee per year, and in the public services sector it was 8.7 days per employee per year. In terms of management 16% said they feel under excessive pressure every day and just under a quarter (23%) experience this pressure once or twice a week. The main reason for feeling under excessive pressure was reported to be workload, followed by pressure to meet targets, management style and poorly managed change/ restructuring. 67% of employees said they personally have gone into work in the past 12 months when they were genuinely ill rather than take the day off sick, so called Presenteeism. I have also wrote about a further phenomenon of employees taking annual leave or flexi time off when they have been too poorly to attend work, in order to avoid adverse feelings towards them or negative commentary on their absence records, so called Leaveism.

 

 

I would say that in terms of both the head and the heart, the case for Well-being is made out clearly.

I would suggest 3 main factors impact on workplace wellbeing:

1. Creating the right Environment

2. Good Leadership

3. Personal Resilience

Organisations that consciously address these areas are sure to benefit from their approach. A simple business case for Well-being.

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