Sickness, time wasting and injury costing you $millions? Yoga and fruit bowls will not cut it.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” Peter Drucker
We can sense the culture of an organisation almost immediately as we step into the workplace. As a visitor or as a new starter we sense if people are welcoming, we notice if the workplace has been arranged to encourage team working and we feel an emotional response to the style of communication between colleagues.
I am sure we have all experienced entering a workplace where no one acknowledges us, where everyone is penned into their individual workstation and where communication is harsh and direct. It doesn’t feel right. We sense that this is not a good place to work.
On the other hand, it’s refreshing to walk into a workplace where people welcome us with smiles, where people are working together in teams and where communication is supportive and generous. It feels good, the energy is contagious, and we ask ourselves “what do I need to do to get a job here?”.
A search on google for “Mentally Healthy Workplaces” returns about 203 million results. The evidence on mentally healthy workplaces and the impact on organisational results is growing at a rapid pace as is the office yoga and fruit bowl industry. But investing in workplace well-being programs is not leading to mentally healthy workplaces, and unless workplaces think seriously about creating and sustaining a mentally healthy workplace then they’re going to continue to experience sub optimal results to their bottom line.
Of course, there are Board Directors and Executives who do not see the link between a mentally healthy workplace and organisational results. My experience tells me that no amount of evidence or persuasion will convince these leaders to focus their attention on this issue.
Then there are those leaders who understand the link but are not sure how to create a workplace culture that will significantly reduce the cost of sickness, low morale and injuries. The workplace well-being industry is well placed to present their service as the answer.
Many of us have worked in organisations where the positive culture is palpable. These workplaces are often characterised by an engaging CEO with authentic support from the Board and executive team. The people feel engaged in the direction of the organisation, they can connect their work with the expressed direction of the company, and they sense that their contribution is valued; they feel heard.
The people have a sense of agency in their work, they feel they have an opportunity to grow and master their skills in their role and they feel a sense of autonomy. According to Daniel Pink in his video the 3 fundamental characteristics we look for in a workplace is Agency, Mastery and Autonomy.
So how do we achieve a positive workplace culture that will reduce the cost of sickness and injury whilst also improving productivity and performance? How can CEOs and Boards stop leaking $millions from sick leave, unproductive workers and workers compensation?
It starts with the CEO and the Board. They need to understand that there is a cause and effect link between the culture they create and the results they are seeing. They need to see that they are the key to creating and sustaining a mentally wealthy workplace. And they need to prioritise their most valuable resource.
There are no "off the shelf" quick fixes. There are no "one size fits all" programs that will fix your workplace culture. Each workplace is unique and requires a tailored plan co-designed between all the people. The Board, the Executive, middle management and more importantly the people working on the front line with your customers. Without them, any plan is bound to fail.
Yoga and fruit bowls just won’t cut it.