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Survival of the HAPPIEST

Workplace wellbeing is about far more than just physical health – psychological and social aspects play an equally important role. Jan-Hein Hemke, managing director of Facilicom explains how service providers that want to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace need to create a culture of meritocracy, helping employees to advance through the development of talent and ability. A supportive and encouraging employer will create a happy, healthy, loyal workforce, which is much more likely to deliver the high standards that customers demand

What drives you to work, besides the need to pay the bills? Monetary concerns will always be a strong motivating factor, but more and more of us are also striving to find our ‘calling’. We’re on a quest to secure a career that means something to us, with an employer that mirrors our own ethical and community concerns, offering room to grow and develop both personally and as part of a team.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) definition of workplace wellbeing is, to my mind, particularly accurate: ‘Creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation’.

Much has been written about the physical nature of the workplace in relation to employee wellbeing, mainly in connection with infection control and cleanliness. There’s no doubt that a hygienic workplace will reduce the number of days that firms lose to sickness each year, as bugs and viruses are kept to a minimum through stringent cleaning regimes. This also improves efficiency, profitability and customer satisfaction. Health and safety laws provide strict guidance over what our workplaces should look and feel like – and these aspects of employment are undoubtedly important.

However, to really make a positive impact on worker wellbeing a much more holistic approach needs to be taken, one that speaks to colleagues both collectively and individually. You could work in the cleanest environment possible, surrounded by the latest ergonomically designed office equipment, offices kept at optimum temperatures, with soothing colours and art on the walls – but this means nothing if your line manager is unapproachable, your colleagues are tactiturn and dissatisfied, and there is no chance to learn while you earn, or progress through the organisation. If employers are truly committed to improving the wellbeing of their workforce they need to concentrate not just on the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

Employers who look after their team by recognising their skills and potential, and helping to develop them, will increase a sense of empowerment and wellbeing. One way of doing this is to encourage the use of mentoring throughout an organisation. This usually pairs an experienced person already within the company or institution with a new employee or student.

iStock_000016970902XLargeA mentoring relationship is usually a long-term arrangement, certainly more fluid and flexible than coaching sessions, which can be extremely structured, and usually take place over a defined time period. Mentoring can take place for as long as the person being mentored wants it to. It may begin as more of an introductory affair, ensuring that the new team member has someone to guide them through the sea of unfamiliar names, procedures, policies and buildings that come with a new job. However, this can then develop into something much more personal, helping them to identify specific skills and interests, providing them with clear direction when it comes to their future development. Mentoring can also be brought in to help with succession planning, helping to prepare an individual for that next ‘step up’ the career ladder, perhaps making the leap into a management role or a place on the board!

Companies that include mentoring as a fundamental part of their wellbeing strategies will reap the benefits of increased length of service and low absenteeism rates. This is because mentoring shows that individuals are being treated as such – not just commodities paid to perform a task. It demonstrates they are respected and being treated with the greatest integrity – a part of the team for, hopefully, the long run.

About Sarah OBeirne


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