3 April 2020

Wellbeing: a cultural shift by Behavioural Strategist, Chloe Foy

How are you feeling? Don’t worry, this isn’t another ‘how to stay healthy at home’ blog...

I’m not going to talk about fruit bowls and fresh air, but take a deep breath anyway. I’m talking about the inextricable link between wellbeing and employee engagement.

As we reach the end of week two of lockdown in the UK, there couldn’t be a better time to demonstrate that wellbeing goes well beyond sweating the small stuff. With a more strategic lens, it’s a chance to reflect how you want to be seen and remembered  internally and externally as a brand.

Engage for Success found that employees with high levels of wellbeing were 35% more committed to their company. Looking after the wellbeing of your workforce is now priority number one. In the face of a global pandemic, brands and businesses around the world are experiencing the true value of being ‘people first’. But what do we mean by wellbeing now and what does this mean for the future or ‘the new normal’?

More than ten days in quarantine will significantly increase stress and anxiety levels. With the number of cases predicted to peak by Easter, it’s likely we’ll be confined to our homes for some time, with some unable to leave at all. There are many different situations that people are in at home and everyone has different wellbeing needs, so being aware of these differences is crucial.

Mental health has been top of the wellbeing agenda in the UK and Europe for some time, and while it isn’t the sole responsibility of employers to support their colleagues, it’s a chance to really show they care, build trust and reflect the purpose, values and culture of the organisation. With 75% of people trusting their employer over others, it’s a perfect opportunity to deepen engagement.

Staying active and separating work life from personal life is advised, but this isn’t always possible in every case. Here are five more strategic and sustainable ways in which you can increase wellbeing AND engagement, and set the foundations for a positive cultural shift:


1) Communication style
Uncertainty drives anxiety. Provide open, honest and clear communication which does not bombard but manages expectations as best as possible. Managers could consider the power of ‘reframing’ with their teams – a tried and tested coaching technique, shifting from ‘I’m stuck inside’ to ‘I can finally focus on myself and my home’.


2) Be flexible
With childcare and other considerations, trying to replicate a rigid 9-5 at home simply won’t work for some. This is a chance to build closer connections between managers and teams by being more flexible, agreeing on when work can be done. You’ll probably see productivity increase too.


3) Encourage learning
Not everyone will have the same capacity of work as before. Learning something new can give us a sense of purpose, which is essential for a sense of wellbeing and if you can make it fun, you make it stick.


4) Measure, listen and respond
There’s evidence that shows the link between wellbeing and productivity, but it’s yet to be embraced by many at a senior level. If you can find out how people feel and match it with business measures, you’ll be able to set the standard for new, more profitable ways of working. Make time to regularly ask your colleagues how they’re doing. Some people might not feel able to answer honestly face to-face or on the spot, so try using anonymous pulse surveys to find out how people really feel. This is the time to measure, listen and – crucially – respond to needs.


5) Cross-collaboration
Connecting with others is fantastic for wellbeing. Our clients have told us how good it is to collaborate with people they don’t normally work with. Think about building new, cross-skilled teams or hosting inter-departmental meetings; it’s a chance to demonstrate diversity of thought and, inclusion. It promotes agile working, innovation and learning – a winner for future-proofing your business, too.


With change, comes opportunity.

Behavioural science studies tell us that with any new environment comes the chance to embed new habits. If there was any time to start creating a happier, more human, engaged and productive workforce, this is it.

For any questions on changing habits, coaching and developing cultures feel free to drop me a line: chloe.foy@mccannsynergy.com.







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