Why businesses need to go all in for sustainable employee wellbeing

Wellbeing is intrinsically connected to an organisation’s wider sustainability strategy and purpose.

Professor David Grayson, Cranfield School of Management

Going ‘all in’ for wellbeing is about being able to create a joined-up sustainable business in every sense. This was the key message to come out of the morning plenaries at Reba’s Employee Wellbeing Congress 2019.

Professor David Grayson of Cranfield School of Management believes that companies have entered a purpose-driven era and are now thinking much more deeply about how they create value, not only for their shareholders, but for society as a whole.

Sustainability encompasses commitments to climate change through to building cultures that promote innovation and responsibility. As Grayson said, “successful leaders in wellbeing will see their sense of a wider purpose”.

This wider joined-up purpose is something that Dan Lyons, author of Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Make Work Miserable For The Rest Of Us, argued has been lost in some Silicon Valley start-ups. He explained that fast-paced, high-pressured environments are leading to high staff turnover and burnout, with technology often de-humanising the workplace.

However, there are businesses that are bucking that trend and are seeking to forge a new way of operating in this technology-driven era. They acknowledge the critical importance of a positive culture to help businesses achieve their purpose so that employees can feel 100 per cent human at work.

This is being achieved by ensuring that employees’ wellbeing is at the forefront by limiting hours, encouraging down-time and promoting the business’s wider values so that employees feel invested in the company’s purpose and future.

“All-in businesses are good for employee wellbeing,” explained Grayson. He says that purpose, plan, culture, collaboration and advocacy are all key to this idea.

Employees will always expect hygiene factors such as good pay and conditions. However, “meaning is the new money,” said Grayson. “The long term differentiator will be those businesses that can share something deeper and wider.”

This is a stance that Nigel Wilson, CEO at Legal & General, also takes with his employees and with how the organisation operates. He explained that they have a wider purpose, but they have to deliver on it. “We have to be setting the tone from the top and walking the talk,” he added.

Having a wider joined-up purpose means that employees at Legal & General can be emotionally engaged with the values of the organisation and can be proud of what it does, explained Wilson.

This relates to all areas of the business, from making sustainable investments for its clients, through to supporting their employees’ wellbeing. “It’s the right thing to do for the long-term,” added Wilson.

The REBA Employee Wellbeing Congress is the leading UK event for heads of HR, reward, benefits and wellbeing that aims to help you design and implement a joined-up approach to your employee wellbeing strategy – a cohesive strategy across physical, financial, mental, and social wellbeing. 


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