Director Culture Consultancy
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Engaging in wellbeing

26th Jan 2016
Director Culture Consultancy
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No one is indispensable! Actually that’s not quite true. No one should be indispensable but in far too many organisations the leadership, planning, training and resource allocation just doesn’t allow for cross-training needs.

It’s easy to see how this can happen. When budgets are tight we look to train people for the tasks which we are expecting them to carry out and little else. Yes, there may be some element of training for the future, encouraging personal development, but this is still a very linear viewpoint. The result is that, even within teams, when one person is absent task completion can suffer.

Let’s think about the consequences of this for a moment. From a business perspective are we really happy that whenever a member of our team is absent for whatever reason certain processes or procedures or interactions just won’t take place? Even if the work isn’t time critical, if absence leads to a gap in smooth running then there is no way that even from a business continuity perspective we are operating a well thought out strategy.

And what about the effect on our people? When they have no support, no backup, no-one to handover to, then even if they are only halfway conscientious we are placing a tremendous strain and obligation on them. Feeling ill; with no one to take over the choice is to work from home or to go into the office and potentially infect others. Going on holiday; well that means working extra hours to get ahead before you go and still more hours to catch up when you come back, hardly conducive to having a rest.

Are we really taking care of our people?

So why is it that when we talk about well-being, about really taking care of our employees this one area is so neglected? Is it because the work required to ensure that everyone has someone who can take over from them requires time and effort and planning or is it simply because there is a hidden assumption that surely someone can step into the breach if required? Whatever the reason, no organisation can truly claim to care about its employees’ well-being unless this area is fully covered.

Let’s be honest, there is some fantastic work going on within organisations to really engage with and support employees. From flexible working to chill out zones and from encouraging healthy eating to the provision of fitness classes, employers are starting to recognise that the more they take care of their employees, the more their employees will reward them. Businesses too are looking to boost employee engagement levels by aligning their people with the business strategy, encouraging innovation and collaboration and empowering employees to take the initiative in the delivery of customer excellence.

However, all of this good work can come to naught if employees feel under pressure to deliver regardless of the circumstances, to ensure that their tasks are completed whether they are ill, on holiday or have a personal crisis. Engaging in well-being requires a completely holistic approach in order to ensure that employees not only feel valued but also supported at all times and in all circumstances. Tell someone they are indispensable and we are in effect telling them that they are isolated and unsupported. Is that really the way we want to go?

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