A new study shows that wellbeing in the workplace is the responsibility of every single employee and that we all have a role to play in order to make changes in human behaviour.
How wellbeing in the workplace has gained importance
Since the pandemic began, wellbeing has become the ‘in-thing.’ Moreover, the whole subject of wellbeing suddenly became central to many conversations held in organizations worldwide.
In the last three years, the increasing acknowledgment and awareness that we’re all collectively in the midst of what can only be called a wellbeing crisis have moved the narrative forward. Yet, since the pandemic, it is imperative that we decide how to progress in doing something about it.
This subject forms the basis of a groundbreaking new report published by Deloitte, entitled “The Workforce Well-being Imperative: Paving the way for human sustainability.”
The most important takeaway from the report is that we must dramatically broaden our notions of well-being. This needs to happen at the collective and organizational level, but there are also things we can do in our own lives to help drive this culture shift.
What does the report tell us?
The report notes that in responding to the challenges of the pandemic, most organizations have given significant attention and resources to employee well-being. But, as the study tells us, although the intent is good, little progress can be made if the root causes of poor workforce well-being are not addressed.
Deloitte calls those root causes the “work determinants of well-being.” Public health institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO),, discuss the “social determinants of health. ” The WHO defines these as “the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes”.
Included in those factors is work. The concept has been expanded into the work determinants of wellbeing because work has a significant influence on every aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing, according to the research team.
The study breaks down the work determinants of well-being into three categories –
- Leadership behaviors at all levels;
- How our jobs are designed, by both ourselves and our organizations; and
- Our ways of work, or how we get our work done.
To understand how these factors impact our well-being, Deloitte surveyed over 1,200 US employees across various industries, regions, and socio-economic levels, and analyzed the results.
Can a crisis in wellbeing be systematic?
The report tells us that the first lesson to learn is that wellbeing is a systemic problem and one that is going to require systemic solutions. After all, we didn’t get here overnight, so there won’t be an easy fix.
As the study makes clear, we’re in a crisis. Among the eye-opening statistics cited is that while 80% of executives say wellbeing is a top priority, nearly 90% of workers think their work life is getting worse. Furthermore, 57% of employees are considering quitting their job for one that better supports their well-being.
In order to addressing that at an organizational level, we should move from a legacy mindset that wellbeing is the individual’s responsibility to the more forward-thinking notion of wellbeing as a shared responsibility.
We all must play a role
The second lesson is just as crucial as the first. Just because the well-being crisis is systemic doesn’t mean there’s nothing each of us can do in our individual lives.
We’re all part of a system and connected to micro-systems in our own lives. We all have a sphere of influence regardless of our organizational role. If we’re all moving in the same direction, we’ll be able to harness that collective power for change on a collective scale.
As an example of this, we should consider climate change. The climate is, of course, the most extensive system on the planet. And it would be easy to become overwhelmed or cynical or despairing about what we could do in our own lives to help.
However, individually, as well as collectively, we can make a difference. While many argue that individual action doesn’t matter in an issue as global and enormous as the climate crisis, this is not the right approach to take.
While individually we might not solve the climate crisis. Yet, if we all live a more sustainable life and connect with our own communities about our own ‘green’ practices, it is possible to build momentum for cultural change that can shift policies.
Start small and grow
The same can be said for wellbeing, according to Deloitte’s report. We all work with other human beings on some level. So we can contribute to a network effect by being more aware of how our work habits impact others in our own individual networks.
For instance, the report cites the fact that employees are spending 250 % more time in meetings than they were before the pandemic. So in thinking about two of the work determinants of wellbeing (how our work is designed and our ways of working), the next time you’re putting time on someone’s calendar, ask yourself, is this meeting needed? Is it worth their time? Is it worth my time?
Additionally, technology is a significant driver of burnout. Respondents to the survey said that being always on and switching between tasks and apps had a constant negative effect on their well-being. So being more intentional with how we use technology is also a great place to start.
If we multitask in a meeting, we should step back and ask ourselves why. Is it because we don’t believe our work is important? Or that the person doesn’t deserve our full attention? When one person is checked out, others tend to follow.
Another tool at our disposal but one which remains largely underused is time blocking. This can mean scheduling time on your calendar for yourself to get deep work done or just for self-care. And it can also mean blocking off no-meeting times for your team. Both ways will boost your well-being and allow others to do the same in their own lives.
Human sustainability is our collective goal
As the Deloitte report concludes, the ball is clearly in the court of employers to address the changing dynamics of work and move towards a model that supports human sustainability.
That’s a huge undertaking, but we can only start with what we can control. And we all have a role to play in creating the world of work we want to live in. In the end, tiny steps now can lead to great changes later on. So by every single one of us taking a tiny step today, might just influence brad scale changes tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on the Deloitte report? Do you concur with its findings? Tell us more in the comments.