How to Create a Holistic Work Culture

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One of the many reasons we work is to gain a sense of well-being. This all-important rush of energy, calm, confidence and joy is so important that if it’s missing at work, studies show we can suffer from a higher risk of disease, illness and injury, and even a shorter life. We are also likely to leave those jobs, costing our employers billions in lost productivity and turnover. 

If we do feel a sense of well-being in our workplace, we are more engaged, healthy, positive and productive, not only at work but in our overall lives. However, the state of well-being in American workplaces isn’t all that…well. 

A recent Gallup study showed that only 33 percent of U.S. employees were engaged at work. So the vast majority of workers are not physically and emotionally involved in their daily tasks and thus are not focused.

The PR Council (PRC) Next Project reports that, in order to feel engaged, most PR pros want more training, feedback, flexibility and opportunities to advance; realistic workloads; and to spend less time at work. This data is important, as most companies are battling for talent and need to pay attention to their employer brands.

Factors contributing to well-being include health, money, relationships, safety and social contribution. At all levels, organizational culture is critical. Culture refers to the beliefs and values an organization demonstrates — with its behaviors, strategic programs, approach to daily tasks, and symbols and language (tone, formality, vocabulary). Culture is the cornerstone of an organization’s internal environment, which supports how it interacts with its external environment. Here’s how to create a workplace culture that embraces well-being:

  • Listen to your employees. Provide programs and set standards for behavior based on what they want
  • Embed these into the accountability (rewards and recognition) systems of your organization.
  • Have middle- and upper-management employees model expected behaviors for all employees and institute formal programs for behavior.
  • Monitor and measure results through surveys, polls, ongoing feedback loops and direct observation.

Listen to your employees 

In your next employee-engagement survey, include questions related to well-being and be prepared to act on what your workers tell you. This could require some soul-searching and a deep commitment to change — most factors contributing to employee well-being are behavioral rather than programmatic. 

Add questions to your survey about specific programs so you know which ones are most valuable to your employees before investing in them. Programs don’t need to be flashy or expensive to be useful. There are many digital, flexible well-being programs (including social media channels and apps) that deliver personalized experiences to employees across a wide array of interests and abilities that take generational, demographic and geographic issues into consideration. These can support employee goals related to diet, fitness, sleep, stress management, finances and more. 

Communicate your programs 

Once you have your well-being programs in place, communication is critical. Let your employees know about the programs and how to use them through a combination of in-person and technology-driven communication tools. Generally, a well-being communication program includes:

  • Rewards and recognition for employees who effectively use the programs.
  • Education about well-being topics (using your most popular tools, such as intranet, employee blogs and employee resource groups).
  • Workplace communities that support each other’s well-being goals. 

Building a culture of well-being takes time, commitment, resources and leadership. Stay tuned for more information in my upcoming columns. 


photo credit: wavebreakmedia

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