Wellbeing does not just happen.
It requires thought, planning, and follow-through.
Workplace leaders have to be role models.
Is it possible that your workplace is killing you? Thought-provoking research published in the Graduate School of Sanford Business examines that question. According to the report, common workplace stressors include:
- “No insurance
- Shift work
- Long hours
- Job insecurity
- Work-family conflict
- Low job control
- High job demands
- Low social support
- Organizational injustice.”
Just the perception of an unjust work environment can lead to 50% higher physician diagnosed illnesses. 50%! Can you say, “toxic workplaces”? Again, look at the Sanford report. Draw your conclusions.
Bottom line: It makes little difference what giveaways are on the table at the most recent “wellness” fair or open enrollment meeting. If the above stressors exist in your workplace, the research predicts dismal consequences. If words don’t match actions, we end up with stories we tell vs. the stories we live. Disconnections abound.
If your workplace has a “wellness” initiative, is the focus too narrow? According to a paper (“Creating an Engaged Culture through Wellbeing”) from Virgin Pulse, wellness programs need to focus on more than physical health (diet, weight, and exercise, for instance). Other dimensions of health exist and need to be in the mix. Rather than (what can become) a one-dimensional “wellness” initiative, focus on the more multi-dimensional concept of “wellbeing.”
In 2008, Pearson Education published and released my book Rhythms of College Success.
I used the image of a six-string guitar as a metaphor for the theme of the book: balance and wellbeing. Each string represented one of the six dimensions of life. My description, in part, read:
“…Visualize a six-string guitar. The guitar will be able to make sweet music with properly tuned strings.
If one of the six strings falls out of tune or breaks,
the guitar can still be played but the song will not be as pleasing.” (p. 18)
(I still use this image in the 3rd edition titled Choices for College Success.)
The farsighted work environment pays attention to the interplay of these multiple dimensions and to significance of both individual habits and organizational culture. Reference the workplace stressors listed above.
Wellbeing, also, goes beyond the oft-cited goal of “work-life balance.” What I have been hearing and reading emphasizes “work-life integration or blend.” An article in Fortune pushes for this. Work, after all, is a part of life. The concept of “integration” allows for more emphasis on flexibility of when we work, play, and create family time. And with flexibility comes responsibility. This requires the skill to set boundaries and limits so that the integration is a healthy blend.
Organizations may wish to examine the dynamic of work-life integration and place it within their wellbeing programs. Wellbeing does not just happen. It requires thought, planning, and follow-through. Management practices need to foster this sense of wellbeing. Leadership needs to model behavior such as providing clear and appropriate feedback, autonomy within one’s job sphere and encouragement to set challenging and clearly articulated goals. (See my post that references Daniel Pink’s work on motivation.)
And leadership (true and caring leadership) needs to pay attention to the workplace stressors that may undermine individual wellbeing.
Video recommendation for the week:
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.