The best way to make sure you go to the gym? Ask a buddy to come. The best way to improve employee well-being? Ask your company to join in.
Positive peer pressure works, certainly, but building a culture of employee well-being isn’t just about encouraging everyone to get their steps in. When peers, managers and leaders show up for each other in meaningful ways, it creates a sense of support and safety across the whole company. And that is how people do their best work. We’ve long known that engaged employees are more effective employees. Now, thanks to a recent Oxford University study, we know that happy workers are too, showing productivity gains of 13%.
Everyone wants an enthusiastic, caring culture — and that’s the trick to getting one. Empower peers to create the kind of culture they want to be a part of, and their well-being and happiness will be at the center of it. Give managers a platform to communicate that culture and get leaders to inspire adoption, and people will document their well-being efforts in a way that creates durable change.
If you want a culture that values the whole person, you have to bring in the whole company. Limeade helps peers, managers and leaders show up for each other in meaningful ways, because the data shows what a difference it can make. Employees have a higher sense of well-being when they feel support from their organization — and that well-being translates to big impacts on the business. That’s how you get the engaged and healthy workforce your business needs.
Peers set the norms — encourage them to make workplace well-being one
People are social animals. For the most part, we want to belong to the group. That’s why we watch what others are doing with such interest. We want to follow their cues and learn to fit in. In this way, a workplace is no different than a middle-school cafeteria. New hires will fit into whatever culture you show them, and everyone will look to mimic the behavior that gets rewarded.
So when less than half of workers surveyed in an American Psychological Association study say the climate at their organization supports well-being, know that it’s a choice organizations are making. They have to actively encourage employees to ignore their happiness and effectiveness.
To make a long-lasting impact on employee health and productivity, promote self-care. Quite literally, promote the people who get the job done while maintaining a high level of well-being. Recognize when colleagues support each other and show that there’s a tangible value to taking an interest in each other.
Eventually, care will become a pervasive part of the culture. Employees will know their colleagues care about them, and that they’re watching out for them. That little bit of support is enough to change people’s behavior — and the accountability of knowing people will check in on them is enough to make that change sticky.
Manager communication creates connection and a culture worth belonging to
For a culture of well-being to take root, everyone needs a place to show and experience care. One of the core capabilities of the Limeade Well-Being solution is a constantly updating social-style feed that everyone in the company can access. Employees can see what well-being milestones their colleagues are celebrating, access newly available resources and send a “cheers” to say thanks or encourage someone to hang in there. Access is universal and information is customized to both peer needs and company culture, so people can always find something valuable.
Communication takes the actions of a few people and brings them to scale. When managers establish a place where colleagues can show care for each other, it normalizes that behavior and encourages others to join in. It’s a window into the culture everyone aspires to, and a foundational part of achieving it.
To get everyone involved, make sure everyone is represented. Start any campaign by identifying a few people from across your organization to be the early adopters and champions. They can break the digital ice with the first messages, giving others an example to follow.
Leaders inspire imitation by showing how to support your colleagues
If accountability to and support from peers and managers makes well-being possible, leaders demonstrating their own well-being makes it real.
When we’re helping our partners introduce a workplace well-being program, we look to the leaders for help. Customized messages from company leaders shows employees that the company is truly invested in them and cares about their success. Not only is it easier to get employees to do as their leaders do, it keeps people put: 1 in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person.
Yet only 4 in 10 workers say senior managers are involved in well-being initiatives, per the APA study mentioned. That matches closely to the 44% of workers who say their organization supports well-being. To make it a priority, employees need to feel surrounded by care, seeing it from both peers and leaders. When they do, the results are clear: The same APA study says that more than 9 in 10 employees feel motivated to do their best work when they have leadership support, and 73% say their organization helps them live a healthy lifestyle when leaders are engaged.
A culture of well-being is possible, if every employee contributes
Engaged employees have a multiplier effect on positive outcomes for your business. According to a Gallup metanalysis of studies, teams with high engagement — in the top 25% — reported 66% greater well-being compared with those in the bottom quarter. That’s in addition to double-digit drops in turnover and an 81% reduction in absenteeism, adding up to a 23% gap in profitability.
These healthier, more present, longer-tenured and more productive employees already work for you. They just need to see that the whole company actively supports the pursuit of well-being. When they see colleagues standing up for and checking in on each other, when they see leaders demonstrating compassion and care, they learn that those acts are valued and they make well-being a part of their workday.
It can’t be tacked on, another task to achieve at the end of the day. Well-being has to be a goal that the whole company pursues, actively and publicly, and one that earns tangible rewards. Give people a platform to see that’s true, and watch your culture shift toward one of well-being.
See how peers, managers and leaders can show up for people in meaningful ways:
What care could look like for your organization
- Have a leader record a short video talking to managers about the important role they play in the organization and some actions they can take.
- Share organization-wide team updates and accomplishments to keep everyone up-to-date.
- Create a “Leader Lifehack” challenge — a leader-sponsored activity where leaders share well-being tips and recommendations.