‘Building a wellbeing culture’
A special insight into cultural wellbeing
— By Beth Stallwood, Head of Cultural Development & Lead Facilitator, Moving Ahead

The concept of wellbeing is broad and has many facets to consider. It’s a complex area, where deeply personal issues and preferences need to be recognised, understood and elegantly managed. There certainly isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution than can be bought off the shelf and applied to any organisation. Yet the business benefits are clear and organisations who want to stay ahead of the game, attract and retain diverse talent, and achieve great results, are looking closely and carefully into what will work for them.

From my perspective, the likelihood of success of a wellbeing strategy is directly correlated to how integrated it is within your organisational culture. This is one of those times in business when ‘talking the talk’ will have significantly less impact than ‘walking the walk’. To truly reap the many and varied rewards of investing in wellbeing, organisations need to enable a culture in which wellbeing moves beyond the big bang events, employee benefits package and initiatives, and simply becomes, ‘The way we do things around here’. This is a far more challenging, it will take longer, and it will require a different kind of effort, but, if you can get it right, it will outlast any initiative or campaign. It will become part of your organisational DNA.

To build your wellbeing strategy in this sustainable way, I’d encourage you to:

1. Embark on the journey now
Don’t wait because it’s all too big and scary, or until you’ve secured a bigger budget or more resource. Find people who are passionate, be the brave early adopters and make something great happen. One small step at a time is plenty. Pick one thing to actively launch, promote and talk about every day. Once you’ve got that one thing under your belt, pick the next thing in the list.

2. Engage people in the process

Wellbeing isn’t something that an employer does to or for an employee. It should be for everyone and with everyone. There’s power and perspective in the people already in your business. So give your people a voice in setting the strategy and the plan. Ask people from different departments, levels and backgrounds – the more diverse the voices, the better (and always ask the cynics; they’ll ensure your plans are actually possible).

3. Equip managers to talk about wellbeing

Remember that people leave managers not organisations. Make sure your managers at all levels can ask great questions, really listen and respond with empathy. At a deeper level, leaders and managers need to really walk the walk and proactively look after their own wellbeing so they can demonstrate the behaviour they are seeking from others.

4. Embed into everything you do with people

It’s no good embarking on a wellbeing strategy that encourages flexible working, if next week you give someone an appraisal score based on how many hours they showed their face at the office! You have to put your money where your mouth is and ensure that all the jigsaw pieces fit together.

5. Encourage people to tell their wellbeing story

Sharing perspectives and the challenges they’ve overcome, and demonstrating what’s possible is powerful fuel for your wellbeing fire. A variety of real-life stories from across your organisation and the external world will inspire people to take ownership of their wellbeing.

Beth is a cultural development expert with an proven track record of enabling organisations of all shapes, sizes and sectors to achieve results by engaging their people. She leads on cultural development at Moving Ahead, as Head of Cultural Development & Lead Facilitator.