MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Making Wellbeing the Backbone of Your Company Culture

Wellbeing is more important than ever. More than 40% of workers face high stress in their jobs[1], 23% feel regularly burnt out[2], and many individuals are working more hours and taking fewer holidays[3]. Wellbeing in itself has evolved and transformed.

Once viewed as a nice-to-have, and often little more than a tick-box exercise for many businesses, recent research from Aon has validated what we knew all along; investing in a proper wellbeing programme can directly impact company profit, customer retention and customer acquisition.

Employee wellbeing has a broad remit. To focus strategic initiatives on the whole person, Aon has defined five core areas which fall under the wellbeing umbrella; physical, mental, social, work life and financial. Over the past couple of years, we find that many companies are addressing a couple of these areas – but not necessarily taking a holistic approach. This has been evidenced in the Global Wellbeing Survey; for instance, only 54% incorporate financial wellbeing into their strategy – in comparison to 70% who address physical wellbeing in their approach.

In a similar vein, we see that many companies often have a sporadic approach to wellbeing. They might run intermittent health initiatives linked to awareness days or have annual financial education sessions – but these are not always effective at cutting through the noise or driving long-term behavioural change.

In fact, in Aon’s Global Wellbeing Survey, nearly half of companies said that building an organisational culture that celebrates growth, adaptability and resilience was the most important action they will take to transform work performance. Wellbeing has a transformative impact, and it should be the backbone of a company culture; but what does this look like?

Facilitating change

By instilling wellbeing at the epicentre of your culture, you are creating an accepting environment which encourages positive behavioural change. These initiatives can be incredibly cost-efficient; such as training people leaders to understand and signpost available support, or holding regular peer-led wellbeing webinars. These techniques are both low-cost ways of improving employee understanding and raising overall engagement.

Sustained effort

Long-term change requires persistent effort. Wellbeing programmes shouldn’t be shoehorned into a one-off health campaign held in January, or an annual reminder about reviewing savings goals. Developing a sustained programme that engages employees regularly will create a workplace culture that accepts the prioritisation of wellbeing; it empowers employees to set healthy boundaries and engage with wellbeing initiatives.

Lead by example

Any culture shift begins with visible leadership; people leaders set the tone for company culture and wellbeing approach. Having an executive c-suite level sponsor – whether it’s the CEO or the CHRO – will have a trickle-down effect. People are influenced by prominent examples, and leaders need to be comfortable with vocalising the importance of prioritising wellbeing, encouraging participation in wellbeing initiatives, and leading by example by do so themselves too.

Whether you’re at the beginning stages of implementing a holistic strategy, or pulling together existing elements, creating a wellbeing-led culture can amplify these efforts. For more information on how wellbeing can support business growth and how to implement an effective strategy, download Aon’s Global Wellbeing Survey for the latest insights.

[1] https://www.aon.com/global-wellbeing-survey.aspx

[2] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237059/employee-burnout-part-main-causes.aspx

[3] https://www.aon.com/global-wellbeing-survey.aspx

About the author

Charles is Head of Wellbeing Solutions in the UK, leading a team of experts who advise employers on people health risk. During his 20-year career he has worked with many diverse organisations to help them achieve their employee wellbeing aspirations. Drawing on his lived experience of mental health issues, Charles is a strong advocate for the role the workplace can play to protect and enhance mental health. He is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and holds an MSc in Workplace Health and Wellbeing. Charles represents Aon at the Manchester Business School National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work and serves on the Board of the mental health charity Dorset Mind.