(Story by Henry Albrecht originally appeared in Corporate Wellness Magazine)
Great organizations know that well-being is key for people to thrive at work. And when employees believe they have support from their organization, they’re more likely to have higher well-being. Plain and simple: Organizational support drives employee well-being and real employee engagement.
But organizational support goes beyond a pat on the back, a company party or a summer bonus.
Organizational support describes all of the resources and nudges an organization intentionally provides employees to encourage well-being improvement. It comes in the form of leadership, manager, team and peer support, social networks, physical work environment, strategic alignment, well-being tools and programs, and of course culture.
Why organizational support matters
When organizations aren’t supportive, employees aren’t as likely to achieve well-being on their own. Data shows that employees are more likely to feel higher levels of well-being when they feel higher levels of organizational support. And it starts with managers. In fact, our research indicates that managers are the single most important driver of how supported your people feel. But often, managers don’t understand how to talk with their employees about well-being. With the right tools and resources, organizational support can be very easy and practical to apply.
Here are a few ways your organization can support well-being improvement:
Get managers on board
It starts with employees knowing it’s okay to pursue personal well-being. This means managers must be on board. Provide managers clear instructions on how to talk with employees about well-being, encourage frequent 1:1 meetings or even better, try walking meetings.
It all starts with trust. At Limeade, managers invest in employees long-term by encouraging side projects rooted in education. They trust employees to get their work done on a schedule that works for them and the company. Managers who model well-being improvement by taking daily stress breaks or communicating their own well-being priorities with teams has a big impact. It’s about communicating openly, honestly and consistently.
Turn your C-suite into well-being champions
Leaders set the business strategy, which should weave itself into the fabric of any well-being program. Turn executives into well-being champions by helping them articulate — in terms managers and employees understand like happier customers, lower turnover, more profits and stock price growth — the value of well-being and engagement. Then help them share their stories.
Find out what personal passions drive your executives. Does your CEO participate in marathons or love biking? Learning new skills? Eating well on the road? Encourage leadership to sponsor a company-wide activity to get employees excited and engaged. And show them dashboards connecting well-being to employee engagement, turnover, health and more.
Focus on peer-to-peer recognition and collaboration
An employee’s teammates are valuable resources (and cheerleaders) for well-being support. Encourage employees to connect on a personal level. Share supportive comments, motivational success stories and weave well-being into work. Even if it’s just taking a lap around the office with a buddy.
When you spark conversations and build community through team-based challenges, employees start talking about well-being improvements. Incorporate a team steps campaign into your well-being program, or organize a cross-departmental fundraiser. A little friendly competition just might be the source of motivation your employees need to achieve their goals.
Invest in the right well-being tools and activities
A corporate well-being program can help dissolve the lines between business and individual performance — but only if it amplifies the organization’s support for its people and their improvement. In fact, well-being tools and resources ranked as the second-most important factor in improving employee well-being — but only 68 percent of employees say they get this kind of support from their organization.
Create a positive well-being program that people love and want to use through smart, modern technology. It’s also key to build a well-being experience that seamlessly guides people to the right programs, activities, HR initiatives and well-being challenges — at the right time and in a relevant context. There are amazing programs out there, and broad well-being and engagement programs like Limeade to give them a happy home.
Build a culture that supports well-being improvement
Culture shapes employee behavior and can dictate whether participation in and commitment to well-being improvement is important and valued. Your company’s culture needs to visibly (and authentically) demonstrate support for well-being.
Foster trust, but don’t force it. A culture that consistently puts people first shows employees it’s not just okay, but expected to prioritize their well-being. Build well-being measures into corporate policies with paid vacation days or even into your program with activities like volunteer days and on-site fitness events.
Don’t just write your values on the wall and expect a great culture and engaged employees to follow. Live and breathe your mission and core values. When employees hold their organization’s mission as their own, it adds the extra-powerful dimension of purpose to their work. Feeling good, living with purpose, kicking butt at work… what more could anyone want?