Wellness, well-being and mindfulness are all becoming hot topics in the HR and business fraternity. It seems that there is a growing awareness of the fact that people perform better when they are healthy and happy. This is certainly progress and cause for celebration.
Yet, while it is unquestionably good news, it is also something you need to approach cautiously, for it implies the need for greater awareness of the employee as a person. Ideally you should have this already. Yet the pervasive lack of employee engagement revealed by surveys, indicates that such awareness is rare. This suggests that formalising this aspect of the relationship between manager or supervisor and employee presents a massive challenge.
For starters there is a danger that the lack of trust between employees and their supervisors, implicit in the lack of employee engagement, means that employees will perceive such initiatives as encroaching on their personal lives. Thus they may not welcome them at all. Even worse, there is a strong possibility that this new approach could lead employers down a path of “increasing interference” in employees’ lives. Any hint of that is likely to meet strong resistance by employees, which will make them extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement these changes effectively.
You may think this is unduly pessimistic. Yet this McKinsey article hints at some of the difficulties you face as an employer. For instance, the research into sleep deprivation that shows your ability to function effectively is impacted when you don’t sleep properly and that missing a night’s sleep is equivalent to being legally drunk for you are basically at 0.1 percent blood-alcohol level, which is double the legal limit for driving in many countries.
So, “How many people do you have working in your organisation who are effectively working as if they were drunk?” And that’s only the beginning. Now ask yourself, “How are we going to identify such occurrences and what are we going to do to prevent it?” You can begin to see what a potentially tricky road this is.
Naturally, this is a road you will want to avoid. In order to do so, you have to approach it as a cultural challenge. You have to create a culture of mutual respect. You have to create an environment in which people recognise their obligations to the entity and themselves, take responsibility for their actions and are able to do so without fear of consequences. Only then will you create the mindfulness and well-being we are talking about, and reduce the stress that otherwise sabotages all your efforts, and undermines health and thus personal and organisational wellness.