This morning I was at an event talking about wellbeing in the workplace. Again.
Someone said to me that wellbeing started at the top. That senior leaders needed to take action for anything to change.
Well yes. And no.
Wellbeing in the workplace is a three part relationship: organisation, manager, employee.
The organisation can set the strategy. Provide the direction and the resources and give permission. They can tackle the big stuff; the systemic and structural issues that exist within the culture, and help others to do the same. Senior leaders have a significant role to play here too, particularly when it comes to acting as role models and challenging negative behaviours.
The people manager has an even more critical role. As Prof Sir Cary Cooper said at the same event, managers can be dangerous to your health. Managers can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the people that work for them. How they communicate, the deadlines that the set, the support that they provide, the emails that they send, the flexibility that they will allow. They can enable, and they can detract. This is why training on wellbeing issues is critical for everyone who holds a people management role, from the practical to the bigger picture stuff, wherever they sit in the hierarchy.
Finally, it is about each and every individual. When it comes to our wellbeing, if we don’t take ownership of it, then who will? There are things that we cannot control or influence, but much that we can. We always have choice in how we respond.
Wellbeing doesn’t start at the top. It starts there, at the bottom, from the sides and everywhere in between. We all have a part to play. Every one of us can positively (or otherwise) impact the wellbeing of someone else by the way that we choose to behave, interact, communicate or support.
Wellbeing starts with you, and with me too.