2020 highlighted the critical need for a culture of wellbeing across workplaces. While employee wellbeing isn’t a new concept, the drastic shift in ways of working and subsequent effects on engagement, performance and mental health brought this topic to the forefront of discussion for a lot of workplaces.
Beyond that, however, is how this has shaped an organisations appeal and employability rating for younger generations. Gen Z and millennials have placed a ‘culture of wellbeing’ as one of the most critical factors they now consider when both remaining in a workplace or looking for a new role.
This isn’t a surprising given the rates of mental health and wellbeing are the lowest with these generations. With unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression, reduced sense of wellbeing and belonging, rising rates of social isolation, younger gens not just need – but will demand – workplaces who nurture a culture of wellbeing.
Why does this matter? Because it forms the backdrop of why having a culture of wellbeing is so critical. There is a lot of research that shows that wellbeing and performance are strongly correlated. Low rates of wellbeing correlate with low rates of performance. Burn out, retention issues, lack of engagement are all symptoms of an underlying problem within an organisations culture.
Leaders must recognise that old ways of working and outdated business models no longer work. Younger generations want to be part of a work environment that is productive and healthy where they can thrive – not just survive.
How to build a culture of wellbeing
Start with building trust
While a commonsense mindset would agree that trust forms the basis of all relationships, some organisations are yet to fully appreciate the criticality of this. Trust is a necessity for performance. Without trust, an organisation is at risk of declines in all areas of growth.
Organisations must recognise that younger generations hold trust as a core value. Start by making trust an explicit objective for your organisation. Then take actions: have more meaningful conversations, be open and transparent, prioritise morals, commit to your word, make ethical decisions, inspire and motivate through action.
Recognise and foster belonging
How valued and supported employees feel translates into how productive an organisation will be. For younger generations, being valued directly translates into a sense of belonging and worth – which is critical for engagement. Start by allowing employees to contribute to shared objectives, express feedback, input ideas and experiences. Foster accountability in allowing teams to be part of their own journey of wellness and express what’s important to them.
Cohesive, high performing and happy teams provide huge rewards for organisations. Which is why encouraging and nurturing collaboration is important. Start by looking at your teams: are they in sync? Is everyone working toward the same vision? Is there an opportunity to create new connections? Be clear on objectives and ensure there’s mutual benefit for all involved.
Collaboration also includes relationships with leaders. Younger generations want to know that reciprocity exists – which is a departure from traditional structures that offer top-down approaches to management and leadership. ‘At level thinking’ fosters feelings of mutuality and respect, which by default enhances collaboration.
COVID-19 has in many respects, exacerbated both the issue and need for critical attention by workplaces to address their own cultures. Adopting a culture of wellbeing will put your organisation ahead of the game for attracting a talented, high performing younger generation workforce.