When talking to people about wellbeing strategies this is a question that comes up from time to time. It’s still common for those charged with researching or implementing a wellbeing strategy to believe that return on investment should be the core driver. It’s also the belief that causes so many wellbeing and training programmes to struggle or fail completely.
If a strategy is designed with the primary focus of reducing costs then staff will likely see this and assume negative motives lie behind the wellbeing movement. In these circumstances the well intentioned, hard work can backfire and reduce staff engagement levels. After all, nobody wants to feel like the ‘lucky’ turkey receiving extra portions of food in the run up to Christmas!
So what makes a better focus for a wellbeing strategy other than return on investment? Well an organisation or company could start by looking at their own values and mission. These tend to be positive and forward looking such as: ‘providing customers with uniquely creative solutions to their biggest problems’. For a company with such a mission would it not be better to build a wellbeing strategy which in one part helps employees to be more creative in problem solving? Surely helping the company to achieve its primary mission is a far more preferable approach than simply reducing the annual sickness level by a few days.
And don’t forget, as staff members become more engaged with wellbeing for positive reasons there will be natural improvement in both absenteeism and presenteeism levels anyway.
A great example of aligning wellbeing and company mission is Apple. Steve Jobs was a long time believer in mindfulness and openly attributed his creative success to a daily practice. It helped him to reduce stress, gain clarity and be his most creative self. Considering Apple’s mission at the time: to create tools for the mind that advanced humankind, do you think Steve Jobs introduced mindfulness and yoga sessions for all his employees to simply save a few dollars? Or rather to provide the best possible environment for developing creative minds to ensure the company’s success?
So, get to grips with your company or organisation’s mission and look how a wellbeing strategy can support it. Knowing this will make things a lot easier the next time a senior decision maker asks about the return on investment. Take the opportunity to outline how a healthier, more engaged workforce can help achieve the success that is the company or organisation’s purpose for existence.
Promoting the positive mission behind a wellbeing strategy and focusing on ‘value on investment’ is far easier and less risky than presenting a ‘fancily-wrapped’ cost cutting exercise.
Good luck and keep it fun …