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Aligning to thrive
Values guide action. ‘Aligning to thrive’ is central to making workplace wellbeing a sustainable, embedded, evolving practice in your business. It’s a shorthand for taking on a mutual benefit mindset. The paths towards ensuring the people in your business thrive and that your business itself thrives long-term are the same paths.
Your interests are aligned for reasons not only of costs (reducing productivity lost through absence and presenteeism), but also performance (engagement, commitment, going the extra mile) and creativity (feeling able to innovate and improve). Read the What Works Centre for Wellbeing handout ‘Why invest in employee wellbeing’ link: https://whatworkswellbeing.org/resources/why-invest-in-employee-wellbeing.
Through our research we have seen that the same values, behaviours and practices often underpin activities that help you achieve both productivity and wellbeing…
From extensive research, we know that supporting employee wellbeing involves the business:
- Communicating that it sees employees and their wellbeing as important
- Identifying and addressing issues early if employees are struggling
- Fostering good working relationships between colleagues and in teams
- Offering supportive, open and flexible management at every level of the organisation
- Paying attention to the aspects of being at work that impact on people’s everyday sense of whether they are valued: pay, security, opportunities for rest and refresh, training and development, meaningful work.
These specific acts for employee wellbeing, reflect types of behaviour that more generally help a business run smoothly and do well. You will find encouragement to do these things in standard management texts, but see here how they fit closely with wellbeing goals too:
- Clear agenda-setting about organisational values and goals and how each person’s work contributes – this helps people know what to expect and what they are working towards
- Identifying and addressing issues early in any processes, products or with people – this helps the organisation be resilient, so that people can think creatively about how to find solutions to problems before they escalate
- Fostering good working relationships between colleagues and in teams – when people get to know each other as people, not just as workers, they understand and can communicate better, with an influence on efficiency, effectiveness and engagement
- Offering supportive, open and flexible management at every level of the organisation – workers need resources to work and managers are responsible for finding out what those might be (e.g. materials, space, knowledge, collaborators etc.) and only those managers who keep talking and offering support to their workers will be able to provide resources in a timely and useful way
- Paying attention to what makes best use of all resources and opportunities in the long-term – if you have a factory building but let the guttering fall down and don’t invest in it, you can expect there to be crumbling and structural problems over time. Exactly the same applies to the workforce. If you forget they have human needs that require investment to sustain, the workforce will crumble and have structural problems over time.
Not yet convinced of the long-term benefits of aligning to thrive?
Visit our cost-effectiveness calculator to see what different types of wellbeing initiative could do for your business! Here you will be able to see the relationship between different types of wellbeing activity and productivity indicators more clearly.
Hear what other managers have said about aligning to thrive, in our quick inspiration section.
“a long time ago we realised that if people come to work and they enjoy what they do, they really do, it gives the place a bit of a buzz. But as a company the higher performing companies are companies were people actually are enjoying their work and they bring quite a lot of their personality to work. And if they are enjoying what they do and they have space to think and be creative then that’s when the really cool stuff happens. Whereas if people are working long hours wellbeing is not a matter of priority then it becomes not a very nice place to work. And all three of the directors have all worked in those kind of places before and we are all quite keen that we never become that kind of place.”
How a strong wellbeing commitment is reflected in the day-to-day operations of a small company
M is Head of People and Operations for a small IT development company in the UK. She acts as a conduit between employees and directors, to translate the company vision into visible actions and to make sure that people’s career aspirations are heard and their drives are understood.
As a head of operations, she helps match people’s interests with the project work available where this is possible. Whilst striving for the best allocation of intellectually stimulating work that fits with people’s values, interests and goals, she works with colleagues to consider people’s work-life balance, ensuring that there are only rare occasions where there is a work spill over to evenings or weekends with adequate compensation received for extra time worked – unusual in this industry.
Whilst ensuring that employees feel safe and there are formal routes to conflict resolution if needed, the company balances this with day-to-day informality and flexibility. M listens, guides and acts on people’s concerns. She conducts regular check-ins on wellbeing, routines and project experiences. Encouraging open dialogue, continuous communication and transparency as ways of working has given employees the confidence that they can resolve issues in relationship with colleagues, rather than needing to turn to formal procedures.
M continuously works on the firm’s progressive and comprehensive wellbeing benefits provision. She conducts regular benefits reviews and tailors the benefit suit to her colleagues’ interests.
From the performance standpoint, she has implemented a monthly anonymous feedback mechanism via Office Vibe which has a Slack system integration, to ensure continuous embedded evaluation rather than periodic management review. In this way the quality of the work environment, such as relationships, communication, learning opportunities and teamwork is continuously monitored and the organisation can be responsive if issues arise.
The firm has been in regular communication with the team members, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic 2020/21, when remote working became the new norm and working patterns became less visible and provided more opportunity for overwork. M started researching new ways of working such as new ways of conducting performance plans and or setting of aspirational objectives.
Recruitment also has a role to play. M is responsible for recruiting people that are ‘open and respectful to others’. It takes effort and time to find people with the right skill set. M goes a step further and takes care to only bring in people who are an asset to the culture of the company. She is an advocate for treating contractors the same way as company members.
In this way a commitment to wellbeing is embedded in the working environment at the small IT firm. They have seen the benefits of this when particularly tough projects or situations have come around (including the COVID pandemic) and the team has been able to discuss any issues early, work as a team and pull together to meet the challenge.
Taking a moment to think about aligning to thrive
As a senior leader:
- In what ways do I actively spread the message that investing in workplace wellbeing is important to ensure that both employees and the business thrive? Could I do more to make sure colleagues and employees understand my stance on this?
- Can I give examples of ways I have followed through on my long-term wellbeing messaging, even when it required the business to make a short-term investment of time or money?
- Do our line managers have time for the important ‘people management’ part of their manager role (including 1-1s, appraisals, catch-ups, discussing workload, how to help people thrive at work etc.)?
As a wellbeing / HR practitioner:
- Can I clearly articulate the business case for any wellbeing proposals I make to senior leaders? (Am I collecting enough evidence from my organisation / finding out about research to help me make this case?)
- Can I give examples of ways I am supportively challenging the narrative about performance and wellbeing at my company – trying to help it evolve?
- Visit our cost-effectiveness calculator to see what different types of wellbeing initiative could do for your business! Here you will be able to see the relationship between different types of wellbeing activity and productivity indicators more clearly
- Show the What Works Centre for Wellbeing handout ‘Why invest in employee wellbeing’ link: https://whatworkswellbeing.org/resources/why-invest-in-employee-wellbeing to colleagues, to start the conversation on ‘aligning to thrive’
- Find out how one organisation (EMCOR UK) approached collecting evidence on wellbeing to help them make the business case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqJnaErTla4
Check out the Creativity and Commitment principles in the ‘Discerning Eye’ section to think about different implications of having an ‘align to thrive’ mindset.