Change leaders often struggle with the temptation to jump straight to solutions, to get it ‘fixed’ and move on to the next big thing. It’s often what their organisation expects - quick wins and ticked boxes are celebrated. But the risks are high, of treating only the surface symptoms, of delivering a solution which the organisation’s unable to maintain, or of worsening the issue by actioning the wrong thing and damaging trust. During my recent research, I’ve noticed a startlingly familiar trend in the number of organisations launching activities like Mental Health First Aid training or high-profile awareness weeks, without aligning them to an over all strategy or agreed wellbeing outcomes. It’s better than doing nothing, but with a little extra rigour, the gains can be some much greater.
Done well, wellbeing is cultural – integral to the organisation’s values and ways of working, inextricably linked with both employee engagement and continuous improvement. I’ve seen so many change programmes encounter false starts, generate patchy engagement, fall foul of shifting priorities to never quite deliver, or become much harder work than anyone anticipated. And one of the reasons is that they skip past exploring ‘Why’, assuming that everyone’s reasons are the same. They rarely are…
Wellbeing matters, but ‘because it’s the right thing to do’ unfortunately isn’t enough to keep it on a par with all the organisation’s other priorities. Exploring your collective ‘Why’ helps you to
- Make sure that wellbeing gets appropriately resourced (including securing budget), so you’re not trying to deliver on a shoestring
- Select activities to deliver against those desired outcomes, rather than just ticking boxes, maximising the return on your time and financial investments
- Identify the appropriate metrics and feedback to ensure your chosen activities are effective, and enabling adjustments if they’re not
Specifically, what do your stakeholders want to avoid and gain from improving wellbeing? Exploring helps to build desire and momentum towards those outcomes, and referring back to them regularly during the programme helps to keep your activities aligned with what you want to achieve. And if your programme starts to wobble part way through, re-energising your Why can really help to get it back on track.
What’s in it for each of your stakeholder groups? For example, your Recruitment Manager might want to improve the organisation’s ability to attract the very best candidates, by demonstrating how you care for, support and develop your staff. Line managers might be fed up of having to correct the mistakes people make when they’re distracted by worries they’ve got going on at home, so they want to improve their team's ability to park the worrying and stay focused on the day's demands. Your HR team might want people from across the organisation to feel more valued, increasing employee engagement, and to stop the disputes which get escalated to them because people let conflict build up when they’re feeling overloaded.
This collective enquiry needn’t be a lengthy process, and it’s such an important step towards building engagement, involvement and ownership. Understanding your ‘Why’ is one of our range of ‘How To’ guides, designed for applying Continuous Improvement best practices to your wellbeing programme. For more information on this and our other free resources, Get in Touch