Despite the weight of research demonstrating the positive difference wellbeing can make, most organisations still do not fully realise the potential of a well workforce. Reluctant chief executives and other budget holders, as well as sceptical employees, can be big barriers. So where is the impetus for this change going to come from? Business psychologists Robertson Cooper believe that part of the solution is the internet and social media, says managing director Ben Moss.
Having run a network of wellbeing practitioners for the last five years, today the group is launching a free online service, Good Day at Work, which provides access to wellbeing resources to everyone in every organisation.
The resource builds on Robertson Cooper’s free tool, i-resilience, which has now been used by nearly 30,000 people to help them improve their resilience levels. The company aims to provide resources to at least 100,000 people via Good Day at Work over the next two years.
Historically, wellbeing has been an issue primarily owned by HR, although responsibility has spread to other business areas, some of which usually sit within HR – including occupational health and safety, organisational development, talent management, rewards and benefits and, increasingly, corporate social responsibility. If wellbeing is really to be part of everyday working life, senior management and line managers, and employees themselves, also need to be on board.
Creating a well workplace
Wellbeing cannot just be “done” to people; they need to engage with the issue themselves and take some responsibility for playing their own part in creating a well workplace. The new web service is designed to enable all employees to take responsibility for their wellbeing and get more out of their work. For example, understanding the behaviour and working styles of others helps someone improve their working relationships, or helping a line manager appreciate the impact they are having on their team improves their performance and that of their team.
All too frequently, organisations offer fantastic wellbeing programmes and ongoing support services, but the awareness and take-up remains low. And, when an initiative does not work out, funding is at risk. Often this can be a trust issue, with employees seeing wellbeing as a flash-in-the-pan initiative or a tick-box exercise that it is not worth engaging with. Sometimes, employees are just not ready to start the wellbeing journey, despite what is made available by the employer. More information, interaction and dialogue is required but there is a limit to what most organisations can do in this respect – that is the thinking behind Good Day at Work.
The new hub provides a trusted external source of information that will remain free and available for all employees everywhere. Learning more about how wellbeing can help their performance and enjoyment of work will inspire individuals to find out about the wellbeing activity and support that is already available; making the most of existing policies as well as suggesting new ideas that are relevant for them.
In turn, all of this helps practitioners because greater support for initiatives means more take-up and greater return on investment that makes the business case easier to make in the future. Ultimately, it provides a lever to influence the chief executive and chief finance officer to get on board with wellbeing – because local success stories provide the evidence they need to commit future resources.
Good Day at Work also includes resources aimed at HR and its partners. Some organisations are much further along than others, so there is a need to bring people together to share experience. This is more important than ever when resources are tight, as it stops businesses making the mistakes from which others have already learnt.
Videos, case studies, whitepapers and an online newspaper “The Good Daily” provide a resource library for managers and employees. Not all the content is from Robertson Cooper; the company are acting as curators to make sure all the information is in one place. Wellbeing means different things to different people, so the website covers a blend of subjects, showcasing member successes and supporting movements that are striving for related outcomes. Robertson Cooper welcomes external input, as well as encouraging co-creation among members.
National and international
The founding directors – Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper – are involved in national and international groups such as the Employee Engagement Taskforce, World Economic Forum and Global Health Council. This will ensure the resource is up to date with developments at the highest level.
High levels of wellbeing, and all the benefits that come with it, are not just the preserve of dynamic, young start-ups or “best company” organisations with huge budgets. The resource aims to help all individuals work in an environment that brings out their best, so they are both personally fulfilled and, importantly, give all they can to the business. If enough people get involved it is possible to reach a tipping point where wellbeing becomes a necessity rather than a “nice to have”.
The online launch event for Good Day at Work starts today, 7 November 2012, at 10am. Go to the Good Day at Work website to sign up.
To keep up to date with Good Day at Work on Twitter, you can follow @gooddayatwork or me at @psycho_boss.
Ben Moss is managing director of Robertson Cooper