The idea that staying fit, in both our body and mind, is good for our health is nothing new, however the clear and undisputable link to our capabilities within the work place is now a hot topic within the world of L&D and HR, with a message that shouldn’t be ignored.
Employers are beginning to recognise the business benefits of employee wellbeing, hence more and more organisations are rolling out wellbeing strategies. However, in my experience, there is often a lack of a strategic alignment between the leadership capability to deliver and role model the wellbeing strategy, and the impact both mental and physical wellbeing has on performance.
This blog will challenge the accountability and responsibility of line managers and HR to create and sustain the practices and culture that will truly embed a wellbeing culture, through the leadership approach as well as the policy and practice often driven from HR – questioning who’s ultimately responsible for driving a wellbeing culture?
The recent high profile of mental health awareness, driven through the commercial landscape on a national and international scale, spotlighted a lack of understanding and prejudice, often driven through fear and ignorance, around the subject of mental health. Managers at all levels are exposed to, and indeed, may at times cause mental health and emotional issues, i.e. stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, yet very few have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the wide spectrum of mental health and how to deal with issues as they arise.
In the same way that our physical health fluctuates, depending on external and internal factors, our mental health is exactly the same. It could, therefore, be suggested that development of knowledge and confidence within managers at all levels in an organisation to recognise, understand and support their teams and individuals through mental and physical health highs and lows, should be a part of the HR strategy? We equip managers with confidence and competence to communicate, direct, lead and manage performance and coach their team to release potential yet, how many organisations fail to develop confidence and competence of managers at all levels, in matters of mind and body, health and wellbeing? As a minimum, educating and raising awareness of the broad spectrum of mental health issues and how to spot early signs could be a starting point, allowing designated time to have 1-2-1 catch ups with team members purely to check in with how they are doing and spot any potential signs of stress, anxiety or depression may be a good preventative measure.
A question to consider – who’s responsibility is it and where does the role of HR fit? A recent CIPD report suggests, ‘HR has a vital role to play in creating healthier workplaces’ but does it require more than initiatives and good intentions? Do we need to make managers and leaders accountable for creating and sustaining a wellbeing culture through their leadership style, role modelling and their sphere of influence? Or do HR take responsibility for wellbeing and engage employees with initiatives and an education to encourage self-directed wellbeing?
In my experience, culture is driven by both strategy and leadership supported by HR policy and practice and, therefore, a combination of HR strategy, leadership development and employee engagement would provide a cohesive approach to embedding a culture of wellbeing, both in mind and body.
This view is validated through the CIPD current research, which states that, ‘Good leadership and management practices are required to successfully implement a well-being strategy.’
It is also important to remember that every organisation is unique and therefore the tailoring of a wellbeing strategy aligned with the culture and practices which exist already is vital to ensure engagement.
Engaging leaders and employees to embrace and bring to life a wellbeing culture won’t happen overnight, it is important to recognise the speed and pace of individuals’ own personal journey, within both physical and mental health matters. Supporting a wellbeing culture through a coaching and mentoring style delivered by well-informed leaders, will go some way towards employees being encouraged and enabled to identify their own personal wellbeing goals and objectives and progress on their own personal journey.
So who’s responsibility is it? Leaders, HR and the individuals all have a responsibility and accountability in my view.
Check in – are your leaders truly Fit to Lead? Awbery have developed an innovative programme specifically designed to equip leaders with the knowledge and skills to improve wellbeing through mind, body and leadership. If you would like any more information on the Fit to Lead programme, please contact us.
Watch out for our next blog post for employee tips on how to maintain wellbeing in the workplace.