I am a big believer in employee wellbeing.
But there’s wellbeing, and there’s wellbeing.
A spectrum. At once end there’s a statement on the corporate website saying that the health and wellbeing of employees is very important to us. Etc. At the other end, a wellbeing strategy, integrated into the whole of the people agenda.
It’s the occasional bit of free fruit versus employee benefits that enable health.
Managing absence versus supporting attendance.
Too often, what passes as employee wellbeing is just carewash.
Statements without substance.
Individual, one off wellbeing events can make a difference. They can send a signal, or start a journey.
A half day of health checks at a place I once worked led to an employee being diagnosed with a previously unknown and potentially life threatening medical condition. (Thank you Andy Romero-Birkbeck).
Of course, not everyone has the budget or resource to do wellbeing well. In which case, a little something is always better than nothing at all.
So do what you can – but only if you mean it.
Employees can spot empty gestures from a great distance.
For wellbeing to really make a difference the case for it needs to be widely understood and accepted. It needs a strategy. It needs to be integrated in everything that you do.
Consider how, in the public sector, we assess the impact of policies, procedures, changes and initiatives on equality and diversity. If we want to make wellbeing make a difference, for it to be taken seriously and made a priority, then a similar approach is required.
Considering formally and with structure, what would add to wellbeing and what would detract from it. How any negative impacts can be mitigated. That work stuff that you do – how does it impact upon the physical and mental health of the people that work for you? And then what can you do about it?
If you are serious about it, of course.
Because you are spending more time telling people you do wellbeing than you spend actually doing wellbeing, then you don’t really mean it. If you have a wellbeing programme because everyone else has one, or if you are doing wellbeing because it is good for your employer brand, then maybe this isn’t genuine wellbeing at all.
Maybe what you have got instead, is carewash.