Wellness and Mental Health

How to Develop a Culture of Wellbeing

Unlock the full potential of employee wellbeing by fostering a culture that nurtures physical, emotional, social, and financial health.
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Companies everywhere are becoming more aware of the importance of a healthy workplace. But, promoting employee health cannot be done on its own. Company culture plays a significant role since culture and wellbeing are closely intertwined.

Many employers implement wellness programs but fail to build a culture of wellbeing. Behavior changes happen because of a movement, not a mandate.

Hence, the ROI and VOI of a wellbeing program depend on durability.

It doesn’t matter how extensive or cutting-edge the offerings are if the company itself doesn’t have a settled culture that fosters wellbeing.

Therefore, the sooner an organization realizes the close connection between culture and wellbeing and starts to address them both as one, the better outcomes the established wellness programs will have.

Why is Company Culture Important?

company’s culture is its heart and soul.

It includes values, beliefs, roles, communication, attitudes, and traditions. In short, it reflects everything the company does. There are significant benefits to having a solid and unified company culture.

It attracts top talent, and more importantly, it retains that talent. Since workers feel like they belong, they are more likely to stay loyal to the organization. This results in lower turnover rates and stronger relationships among co-workers.

Employees that can identify with their company’s values are likely to be more productive and enthusiastic about their work. One survey shows that 86% of employees believe that company culture impacts productivity. According to another study, companies with strong cultures have 72% higher employee engagement rates.

Sharing the same ideals also increases trust between the business and its employees. Suppose the culture allows people to feel authentically valued and supported. In that case, they will trust the intentions behind any call-to-action the company makes.

Culture of wellbeing

What is a Culture of Wellbeing?

Every little change in a company’s culture impacts employees.

Therefore, it is no surprise that culture and wellbeing are interconnected. If a company’s goal is to support and empower employees to make healthy lifestyle changes, then it must first develop a culture of wellbeing in the workplace.

Nurturing a culture of wellbeing means taking initiatives that support people in achieving complete health. According to WHO“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Therefore, when a company wants to develop a culture of wellbeing in the workplace, it must consider the different aspects of health.

  1. Emotional wellbeing. Refers to people’s abilities to be aware of their emotions and equally deal with positive and negative ones. It is in close relation with physical and mental health. Employers can support their workers’ emotional health by raising awareness of mental issues and providing additional support through wellness programs.
  2. Social wellbeing. People want to have a sense of belonging and feel connected to others. At the workplace, this is possible by encouraging collaboration and creating opportunities for enriching relationships among co-workers.
  3. Financial wellbeing. Having the ability to manage and plan finances properly, and cope with unexpected challenges, is a trait of people with good financial wellbeing. If employees struggle with financial management, it is up to the employer to reduce the stigma around talking about it and provide support and tools to help them.
  4. Physical wellbeing. Exercising, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep are all critical for a person to feel their best. And according to research, employees in good health are more productive at work. Initiatives and programs that promote physical health are a great way to encourage workers to make a lifestyle change.

Data shows that more than 50% of companies mainly focus on emotional wellbeing since it is the number one reason for long-term absence.

Around 30% of businesses also promote social relationships and physical health. However, financial wellbeing remains the most neglected aspect, with only 12% of firms focusing on it.

Considering this data, and the close relationship between culture and wellbeing, for a company to develop a strong culture of wellbeing, it must focus on the overall emotional, social, financial, and physical tenets.

Creating a Culture of Wellbeing

Even though culture is embedded in a company’s DNA, it is possible to change it.

Since the leadership’s work styles and views on what is valuable reinforce culture, the change must start at the top.

There are three main phases toward developing a culture of wellbeing. The first stage is investigating and assessing the current culture to figure out what is missing. Once it is clear what the gaps are, designing the preferred culture follows. The final phase is implementing the culture and finding ways to maintain it in the future.

To ensure the success of the three phases, the company should take specific steps.

Investigating the Current Culture

  1. The most crucial step is understanding and learning where the culture currently stands. It is vital to figure out the starting point and work the way towards improvement from there.
  2. Spend time analyzing how the company will benefit from a culture of wellbeing. Would it improve employee performance? Can the company save money on health care spending? Figure out which are all of the advantages.
  3. Determine what motivates employees. Ask personnel how they define wellbeing. Remember, the finance department might see wellbeing differently than the HR department.
  4. Research the current wellness trends and connect with the wellness provider to understand what they can offer that will improve the organization’s culture.
  5. Define the wellbeing of the company according to employees’ needs. Don’t just cut and paste a wellness program. Aim to create one that will have maximum benefits for the company culture and wellbeing of the workforce.
  6. After a thorough investigation, determine what needs to be changed, updated, or maintained to achieve the preferred culture.

Designing the Preferred Culture

  1. Designing a company culture cannot be done without support from leadership. Present a business case for the benefits of a culture of wellbeing in the company to senior leaders. Leaders who understand its impact will be more willing to give their support.
  2. Develop a strategy for the culture. Include the most important findings of the investigating process, create clear visions of how wellbeing will become a core value, and build a strategic approach.
  3. Define leader’s and middle management‘s roles and objectives in the process. They must share the vision of the culture, serve as role models, align culture guidelines with increasing engagement, and monitor and reward healthy lifestyle changes.
  4. Provide employees with the training and resources they need to understand the offerings. Hold small group meetings to create an in-person forum for Q&A.
  5. Design a wellbeing platform that meets employees on their journeys. Develop personalized wellness programs by analyzing and integrating employee data from multiple sources, including demographics, assessments, biometrics, interests, and preferred modalities.
  6. Profound culture change can’t happen without deep relationships. Aim to develop meaningful relationships at work. Establish a formal time for workers to share authentic stories and gratitude around wellbeing values.
  7. Create a wellness champion network that empowers a critical few to ignite a critical mass. Provide the network with the tools they need for on-the-ground culture development strategies.

Implementing and Maintaining the Culture

  • Create an implementation plan and work with leadership to get the required resources needed for each program.
  • Establish a detailed roll-out schedule and project plan and stick to it.
  • Ensure the wellness vendor offers meaningful lifestyle coaching that allows employees to feel seen, heard, and supported – not just accountable.
  • Check in frequently with everyone participating and not participating in the wellbeing program. Perform quarterly culture checks to collect data. Value opinions and make appropriate changes.
  • Model the pillars of wellbeing in every action of every day. For example, be mindful of flexible working arrangements, encourage walking breaks, create time for informal mindfulness activities, encourage high-performance habits by teaching out-of-the-box techniques, allow for gut checks and create space for emotion.
  • Be consistent. Make sure culture and wellbeing are deeply linked in daily work practices, language, decision making, and symbols.
  • Be intentional in encouraging employees to enjoy the process of wellbeing. Be mindful of communicating support for failures as well as excitement for victories.
  • Constantly communicate and communicate well! The story or narrative of the wellbeing culture must be clear, inclusive, and reasonable. It must be able to motivate and organize a large group of people around a shared vision or goal.

On a Final Note 

The gap between culture and wellbeing is tiny, but once it is closed, it brings tremendous benefits to a company. It sustains employee engagement and enthusiasm and retains and maintains a top-talent workforce that is healthier and happier.

This impacts the bottom line in more ways than one. Once wellbeing becomes something a company is, not what it does, intrinsic behavior change is the prize. This is a multi-pronged, multi-year approach that requires trial and error. However, a wellbeing strategy that understands the power of culture is sure to succeed.

Written by Shortlister Editorial Team

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