The Neglected Basics of Employee Well-Being

The Neglected Basics of Employee Well-Being

While most organisations these days are putting in their best efforts to keep their employees happy and engaged, most of their wellness efforts are geared towards the physical well-being of employees. Most research studies, on the other hand, claim that it is workplace stress that de-rails employee productivity the most. Thus, it becomes imperative that organisations focus on improving the overall work environment and creating a sense of belongingness to keep employees happy.

Human capital is the core of any successful enterprise. It drives every aspect of an organisation’s operations including technology, product design, distribution network and service delivery. One way to build a competitive advantage for an organisation is to improve the well-being of employees, which is directly proportional to productivity.

One of the major causes for the de-rail of employee productivity is workplace stress. Research has illustrated that workplace stress is exacting an all-time high physical and psychological toll. Whilst organisations have gone out of their way to devise wellness programs that recognize the physical component of health, in the midst of this whirligig they tend to miss the basics.

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The wellness of employees starts with the environment they work in. Click To Tweet

Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book “Dying for a Paycheck: How Management harms employee health and company performance” extensively focuses upon the relevance of job control and social support on employee well-being in an organisation. Pfeffer explores research that connects the impact of the two elements on employee well-being in his book.

I believe that traditional wellness programs are not the mere levers that would drive employee health and wellness in an organisation. Instead, improving the overall work environment and creating a sense of belongingness is a far more effective way of driving wellness in the workplace. Below are a few basics that an organisation needs to focus upon for the well-being of employees:

Autonomy and empowerment at work

Studies have shown that the amount of discretion an employee has in his/her work has a major impact on his/her physical health. The negative impacts of job control are particularly acute for employees in high-pressure jobs, with little control over their workdays. Organisations can reduce this impact by designing jobs which allow employees to exercise autonomy and discretion. The work culture that is created on micromanagement is inefficient and filled with unease. It impacts productivity, turnover, innovation and employee morale. organisations can guard themselves against these fallacies by creating ample room for autonomy in various job roles.

The conflict between personal and professional commitments

At times employees have to make hard trade-offs between personal and professional commitments when they are double booked. Such situations trigger guilt and stress. The key to navigate through situations is prioritization. Each employee must determine this prioritization for himself/herself because it might differ dramatically from person to person.

Organisations can organize training on planning and prioritization to aid employees to identify the vantage point and address work and family time conflicts. Click To Tweet

I believe this aspect could be dealt with by individuals better by determining the sense of righteousness and the criticality of each activity, not how other people would react to one’s decision.

Perceived fairness and justice at work

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Numerous researches have shown that workplace satisfaction, commitment, trust and reduced levels of turnover can be correlated with an employee’s perceived level of injustice in their work. The key components of fairness include – equity of pay, fair promotions, fair treatment regardless of personal characteristics, feeling that one has the right to challenge unfair decisions, etc. It is important for employees to be aware that they are in a levelling field.

I believe fairness should be seen as a top priority for all managers. When the managers collaborate with their employees in strategic decision making, make themselves available for honest two-way communication, handle change management judiciously and treat people with respect, fairness will spread like wild-fire throughout the organisation. Smart organisations not only focus upon the outcomes their managers produce but also emphasize upon the fairness of the process the managers adopt to achieve the results. This should not be confused with micromanagement. There is always more than a unidirectional approach to involve employees in decision making and communicate why certain decisions were undertaken.

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There is a moral imperative for organisations to practice fairness at work – it’s simply the right thing to do. Process fairness is the responsibility of all employees, all executives across levels and functions.

Workplace wellness has immense potential advantages in terms of delivering quantifiable benefits – by creating a thriving, engaging and productive workforce. Corporate wellness programs have always been a question of debate. While I agree that wellness programs carry certain value, I offer a line-in-sand position: Workplace culture and ethos is the optimal opportunity for employee wellness efforts.

The Neglected Basics of Employee Well-Being Click To Tweet

It is important for organisations to take stock of the broader work environment and ensure it has the essentials to promote employee well-being.” Management practices that strengthen autonomy, create room for employee discretion and discourage micromanagement generally reap straightforward results, creating a win-win situation for employees and employers.


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