Well-being strategy as an organisational priority: how to get senior leadership on board

Apr 17, 2019
  • people
  • SAP

The relentless pace of change and hyperconnected, technology-driven world of business has forced us to change the way we work. Businesses need resilient employees that can withstand challenge and thrive on change within their corporate environment. A culture of well-being and support is an absolute priority. For many businesses, well-being is no longer just a corporate responsibility, but a business performance strategy to drive employee engagement, increase productivity and harness top talent. 

Senior leaders that drive innovation, encourage collaboration and channel trust and transparency are crucial to fostering a culture of well-being. However, in a recent survey conducted by the CIPD, just one third of respondents reported that senior leaders in their organisation encourage a focus on health and well-being through their actions and behaviours . With lack of support from the top, it can be difficult for HR leaders to execute well-being transformation within their organisation.

Why organisations struggle to deliver a successful weel-being strategy

So what are the common failures of organisations who are unable to deliver successful, long-term well-being strategies and secure buy-in from key stakeholders?

Well-being is an employee problem. Well-being is often considered as an employee ‘problem’ or, in some cases, a benefit. At this level, well-being strategy is simply complying with external requirement or rules which is at risk of being perceived by your employees as a tick box exercise. By adopting a half-hearted approach to well-being, your organisation risks poor employee adoption, and a sceptical, disconnected workforce.

Well-being initiatives are implemented at a superficial level. Initiatives are introduced on an ad-hoc basis, usually in response to a specific well-being problem or challenge. While individual solutions such as wearable technology, gym memberships and mindfulness programmes can be effective, these solutions alone do not deliver the strategic cultural transformation an organisation needs in order to improve engagement and productivity. Well-being needs to be rooted in the core values and behaviours that define a company’s culture.

Business leaders are not role models. Leadership and managers do not actively discourage negative working habits such as presenteeism, long hours or heavy workloads. Coaching and mentoring is unsatisfactory, resulting in a poor working relationship. Having C-level executives who fail to commit to your well-being strategy through behaviour, attitude and leadership style can really have a detrimental effect on your company’s culture.

Failure to effectively analyse employee data. Employee data is collected through annual surveys and appraisals, providing intangible statistics and feedback that cannot be measured or connected to real-time behaviour or outcomes.

Ineffectual communication. Information about well-being is impersonal, ad-hoc and lacking meaningful messaging. There is little or no culture of openness or transparency.

Drive senior leadership ownership for better business results

Don’t regard HR as a support function. HR is traditionally regarded as less strategic than other departments, mostly dealing with the process and policy-driven side of the business. But HR leaders today are often responsible for ensuring their organisation has the workforce and resources it needs to execute business strategy. As the forefront of effort and HR transformation, HR professionals have the knowledge and insight to inform an evidence-based approach to ensure that well-being is integrated into the organisation’s culture, leadership and people management practices. When making a business case for well-being, HR professionals can demonstrate how a great well-being strategy can enhance the company brand and applicant attraction therefore attracting and retaining top talent and lower turnover of staff due to a happier, thriving workforce.

Integrate better technology. The foundation of a sustainable well-being strategy is the integration of technology that can track, communicate and promote your well-being programme, as well as inform other key HR functions such as recruitment and performance management. Having a strong level of alignment throughout the entire HR lifecycle can trigger that cultural and behavioural shift that creates tangible results. Before making any decision about what technology to purchase, leadership will want to understand the ROI: will it improve efficiency, mitigate risk and empower people to perform at their best?

People management systems can help to operationalise well-being. Highly integrated, people management systems, such as SAP SuccessFactors, can highlight issues and trends, as well as transform performance management with ongoing coaching and feedback. Stimulating an open dialogue between managers and employees will help them to have structured conversations about how to align personal performance with business objectives. With this level of engagement, keep your workforce passionate, connected to purpose and focused on the right objectives. Demonstrate to leadership how this type of culture leads to engaged employees who are committed to the long-term vision and strategy of the organisation.

Embrace analytics for data-driven decisions. Machine-learning algorithms and predicative analysis can detect potential issues such as stress, overworking and leaveism in real-time, enabling employers to create upstream solutions. By understanding the underlying patterns, trends and behaviours related to health and well-being, organisations can design a strategy based on the precise needs of its employees. Leveraging workforce analytics in this way can really allow leadership to assess how people investments drive business results. Taking an ‘evidence-based’ approach to measure the success of your organisation’s well-being strategy is key to securing future investment from the board or senior leadership.

The foundation of a sustainable well-being strategy is the integration of technology that can track, communicate and promote your well-being programme

Driving change and transformation

Developing a strong well-being culture is not an overnight effort. Starting with senior leadership, well-being strategy is best developed by making gradual, consistent changes over time, cascaded through all operational aspects of the organisation. An inclusive, supportive culture and committed leadership is crucial to success. By embracing digital technology and engraining well-being into the heart of your company’s culture, create a dynamic, resilient workforce, fully attuned to business goals and delivering top customer service.

At delaware, we help businesses to define improvement programmes, from vision, strategy, to implementation. Our goal is to help you seamlessly execute your HR transformation, with an approach and pace that suits you. To find out how delaware can deliver accelerated value for your organisation, get in touch.

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