Designing workplaces for Wellbeing with Andy Holmes

“Wellbeing must be applied throughout the entire organisation and have equal weight across functions”

A great discussion with Andy about understanding the strategic approach and integrating wellbeing into the strategic objectives and measurement of an organisation. The more digital load increases, the more visible and important the qualities that keep us human. We need patience and deliberate design, as well as personal agency as this is not a ‘quick win’, but yet leaders need to bust myths and role model behaviour that creates these conditions – for humans to thrive in the post pandemic workplace.

Andy generously shares his stories, insight and experience fro his career to date and from working with leaders and organisation across the world.

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

–       ‘C4human’ takes a strategic approach to human capacity and building and sustaining performance and is a single value chain underpinned by science, in which all factors are inextricably linked.

–       It seeks to give wellbeing a seat at the top table along with other commercial metrics – if our wellbeing is under resourced, we lose the qualities of decision-making and self-awareness, both of which can impact business.

–       Talented people still fail due to a lack of wellbeing and resource capacity to behave reasonably, make consistent decisions and act without bias. Wellbeing is an enabler rather than an obvious money-spinner, so it is hard for leaders to factor in.

–       Messy human problems take time to resolve and commercial KPIs linked to wellbeing are long-term, low-penetration programmes with a low ROI – they should be seen as a sustainability metric, not an acute performance metric.

–       Wellbeing must be applied throughout the entire organisation and have equal weight across functions. It is about individual agency and should not be mandated or disadvantaged by the wrong culture. ‘Millisecond lessons’ show the place of wellbeing within an organisation.

–       The more digital load increases, the more visible and important the quality of the human; if wellbeing is compromised, our bias increases and we revert to type, stymying inclusive and synergetic behaviour.

–       Mental health is a chronic issue, yet most information is targeted at those already struggling with acute symptoms. Mental energy would be a better label and have a less negative narrative, picking up problems before they become acute: prevention – optimisation – rather than cure.

–       Good mental health affects the culture within an organisation and wellbeing should be integrated into daily operational and working practices with positive and authentic intent – humans sense, feel and experience everyday interactions.

–       Sport involves dealing with intimidation, unfamiliarity and the psychology of experiencing changing situations. In the corporate world, negativity leads to recalcitrance, less inclusion and spikes of opinion, which will not yield innovation, open collaboration or performance.

–       Sports psychology works because all team members understand it – does the same apply to the corporate world of comfort and threat? People are hyper-vigilant post-pandemic, and a lack of results often leads to impatience.

–       The underlying biology informs what see in the workplace; we must increase understanding and education about wellbeing and the effects it can have and build comfort to allow senior leaders to see small but consistent progression in this space.

–       Patience is required as there is no quick-fix; organisations must be able to visualise what the future would look like with enhanced wellbeing – what does success look like and what is the road map to get there?

–       We must build elasticity – discomfort, tension, stretch and flex – within organisations. When stretched, wellbeing suffers. Endurance requires elasticity: how consistently can we flex and flex back? Justification of strain mode is a threat response.

–       Post-Covid we have more capacity for strain; we know what is bad for us but change is difficult and we struggle to make changes that are incongruent with the way we feel and the environment in which we work.

–       Leaders should role model switching off: wellbeing must start at organisational level, rather than individual level, as the message is easily undermined by behaviour on the ground. We must help each other to make positive changes.

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Suzie Lewis

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