Wellbeing at Work – Beyond Measurement?

Posted on: November 21, 2014 by Marianne Hewlett

How can we measure wellbeing and happiness at work? Whilst we can all agree that a happy and healthy workforce is invariably more productive, most companies still feel uncomfortable tackling intangible ‘body and mind’ issues, preferring to focus only on tangible facts and performance figures instead.

In my last blog Introducing the Kindness Performance Indicator (KiPI), I questioned whether organizations are measuring the right indicators for business success, as the human side of company operations is often overshadowed by financial and productivity metrics.

From factory thinking to conscious business

Having the right skills and expertise is vital to perform a job well and, for most managers, makes task and man management a straightforward process. If a person has the right skills for the job, the task to be performed can be started immediately and productivity can be translated directly into financial value. Should skill requirements change or evolve, timely training ensures ongoing employability and profitable productivity. In the services business, the term ‘utilization rate’ (billing efficiency of an employee, based on the % of billable hours devided by the hours being recorded) has a strong ‘industrial age’ ring to it and is an indication of how we view and measure employees as production units with pre-determined outputs.

Recent technological advances, resulting in the rise of a mobile workforce and an increasingly connected society, have heralded radical changes in how we work, live and, in many cases, determine ‘success’. The book Conscious Business by Fred Kofman, provides some very interesting insights and should be a ‘must read’ for all business leaders. According to Kofman: “A conscious business seeks to promote the intelligent pursuit of happiness in all its stakeholders. It produces sustainable, exceptional performance through the solidarity of its community and the dignity of each member. A conscious business fosters personal fulfillment in the individuals, mutual respect in the community and success in the organization. It means finding your passion and expressing your essential values through your work”. Now that certainly rings true for us all - doesn’t it?

The human side of business

As we enter this new era of always-on, hyper connectivity, it’s time to let go of industrial age thinking, processes and measurements and instead, start to embrace the conscious, human side of business. This will require focusing on happiness and wellbeing (both mental and physical) to ensure everyone can deliver his or her best and feel engaged. It will need emphatic leaders who can coach their teams to greatness. It will demand diverse teams (gender, age, skills, culture) to collaborate, think outside the box and spark innovation. It will require workspaces to meet, socialize and become inspired. And it will require all of us to behave as responsible corporate citizens, sharing our knowledge and expertise for the greater good.

With an increasingly mobile and remote workforce, trust, empathy and empowerment are a few of the key ingredients that will be instrumental to ensuring future success. An organization’s responsibility to provide the right environment, tools and support for us all to deliver our best will expand to include guidance and support for both our physical and mental wellbeing.

Yearly company survey or real-time self-monitoring?

While organizations may continue to use annual satisfaction surveys as a “thermometer”, regular self-monitoring(e.g. quarterly) and real-time daily “mood” indications that are shared amongst teams are far more effective methods to measure wellbeing and happiness in the workplace. An excellent self-monitoring tool is the free “happiness@work” assessment from Delivering Happiness. In addition there are handy desktop apps using widgets (e.g. Niko Niko) that check how you are feeling on a daily basis, with the option to share it anonymously with your team or “named”, including a comment, with your manager. Such tools are becoming increasingly popular to ensure good morale among team members and thereby boost innovation and productivity.

Whatever measurement, monitoring or assessment tool you choose, the discipline of follow up, identification of issues and making things right determine the success of these measurements.

What are your views on self-monitoring and regular happiness measurements to help improve your wellbeing at work?

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About Marianne Hewlett
Senior Vice President and member of the Scientific Community
Marianne Hewlett is a Senior Vice President at Atos and a seasoned marketeer and communications expert. Passionate about connecting people, technology and business, she is a member of the Atos Scientific Community where she explores the Future of Work and the impact of technology on individuals, organizations and society. She is a strong ambassador for diversity and inclusivity – and particularly encourages female talent to pursue a career in IT – as she believes a diverse and happy workforce is a key driver for business success. As an ambassador for the company’s global transformation program Wellbeing@work, she explores new technologies and ways of working that address the needs of current and future generations of employees. A storyteller at heart, she writes about the human side of business and technology and posts include insights into the future of work, the science of happiness, and how wellbeing and diversity can drive success.

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