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Who cares about workplace wellbeing?

In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, host Chris Taylor talks to author, speaker, psychologist Gethin Nadin. Gethin is one of the world’s top Employee Experience and Wellbeing Influencers. Gethin’ work has been featured in the FT, Forbes, Guardian and The Huffington Post. Gethin is alsoChair of the UK Government-backed Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought Action Group and a fellow at the RSA.

How many pillars of wellbeing are there? [01:09]

Gethin says a lot of organisations struggle with this but he believes s that there are broadly 5 pillars of wellbeing and these are:

  1. Physical wellbeing

  2. Financial wellbeing

  3. Emotional wellbeing

  4. Community wellbeing

  5. Leisure wellbeing

Gethin recommends that organisations think about wellbeing in these five broad terms and to move away from ‘buying’ off the shelf wellbeing products where he believes many organisations get it wrong.

Why should organisations be concerned about wellbeing? [03:12]

Gethin argues that there is compelling evidence that organisations who commit to employee wellbeing benefit from increased profits and shareholder returns. When an organisations is seen to care for its employees, employees perform better in terms of improved customer service, their productivity increases and they produce better outcomes. Gethin states that employee wellbeing is an investment in people.

How much of the wellbeing tech is evidenced based? [07:16]

Gethin estimates that there are some 400,000 wellbeing apps available for download but warns that the majority of this technology is scientifically unproven despite some of the technology being recommended by healthcare organisations such as the NHS in the UK. Gethin goes on to warn that some of the available apps could actually cause harm by creating a sense of over-reliance and self-diagnosis by the individual. So he cautions organisations against putting technology based solutions in front of employees that lack the necessary scientific rigour and evidence.

What is Psychological Reactance? [11.46]

Gethin explains the terms Psychological Reactance the term used to describe human behaviour when we’re told something that we feel threatens our freedom. Gethin explains that messaging surrounding health and financial wellbeing often fail because organisations use ‘negative associations’ as opposed to ‘positive’ ones. He gives an example of retirement planning where positive messages such as dining out and holidaying regularly once retired are much more successful in encouraging people to save than negative messages such as living in poverty.

Employee Burnout and toxic work cultures [17:41]

Gethin states that having work-based friends is effective in employees not feeling isolated or alone at work. Gethin argues that employee ‘burnout’ is most likely to be caused by poor organisational design and structure and quotes recent research to back up this claim. A lack of autonomy, not feeling appreciated, a lack of direction and unrealistic deadlines all contribute to burnout. Gethin asks for organisations and line managers in particular to look again at their interactions with employees to minimise stress and anxiety – preventions he argues is better than cure.

Employees need a sense of belonging and community [25:30]

Gethin stresses the importance of building effective workplace relationships that help to sustain you. Spending time with colleagues and getting to know them has been especially hard during the pandemic. Gethin also predicts that offices will need to be turned into much more collaborative workspaces that encourage employees to engage with one another and foster innovation.

How do I start a wellbeing strategy? [28:17]

Gethin outlines the very first steps an organisation needs to undertake when embarking on an employee wellbeing journey. The steps include asking why are we doing it and what do we hope to get out of it whilst at the same time keeping the employee front and centre.

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