Initiative Overload- Are your employees overloaded by unfocussed initiatives about wellbeing?
As the definition of wellbeing expands, organisations now see wellbeing not just as an employee benefit or responsibility, but as a business performance strategy. The benefits of wellbeing extend beyond that of the individual and include a number of key organisational performance indicators- increases in productivity, employer brand reputation, staff retention, employee engagement and morale, as well as a more inclusive culture and lower absenteeism rates.
With the business case for wellbeing now seen to be a key strategic imperative and ‘simply writes itself’, organisations are increasing their investment in wellbeing initiatives. We are starting to see a spike in the number of wellbeing initiatives, from the introduction of fruit bowls, mindfulness training, lunch-box psychoeducational sessions, to awareness-raising morning teas for mental health. Although all of these initiatives are important and have a rightful place in organisations- without a strategic focus for these initiatives and the promotion of this approach to employees, organisations are leaving employees overloaded with initiatives and missing the mark for long term impact.
Early signs of initiative overload include nosediving engagement results, or spikes in turnover rates.
As organisations launch new wellbeing initiatives, they seldom remember to assess the impact of their initiatives (past, present and future) on employees’ capacity (energy levels) and end up adding initiatives on initiatives on initiatives.
Another oversight can be focussing on quick wins or ‘band-aid’ initiatives- an initiative that attempts to address the outcome we want, but doesn’t necessarily address the root cause of the problem.
Or even worse, we are failing to communicate the prioritisation of our initiatives to employees- creating a mish-mash of initiatives that don’t paint a unified picture.
Wellbeing initiatives, like all organisational initiatives, need to be linked to strategic intent- the expression of why an organisation exists and how we are going to get there. Without this piece of the puzzle, we are simply not setting up our employees for success.
We need to take the time to understand the impact of our initiatives and determine how we will create the environment and culture for our employees to participate in these initiatives in order to make long term impact.
What we can do,
1) ‘Press pause’; take the time to really discover the root cause of perceived problems and deliberate the best course of action before introducing another initiative.
2) ‘Check strategic links’; asking ‘will this initiative help us achieve our strategic intent?’ If the answer is no, the initiative is not adding value and needs to go.
3) ‘Do less’, but communicate with intention; with increasing workload demands and increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty we need to ensure our employees are able to bring their best self to work. We need to communicate the intention of our initiatives to employees and support them to participate by focussing on less.
4) Create the right environment; it takes more than the introduction of a fruit bowl or educational training to make a real difference to the wellbeing of our employees. Start focussing on building a culture of wellbeing, understanding the role of your strategic intent, guiding behaviours, the role of your leaders, and the supporting mechanisms required to create the right environment.