I’ve been writing a lot about why we need to pay better attention to perfectionism, workload, stress and burnout and it’s not just to be good leaders and corporate citizens (although that would be enough!), it’s also to get better outcomes. Too much drive, too much stress doesn’t just decrease people’s health and wellbeing, it interferes with organisational success.
Working resilient, high performing people too hard, as is increasingly the case, backfires.
The continuing rise of burnout, perfectionism and workaholism is not just bad for individuals, it’s bad for organisations. It doesn’t just impact ‘weaker’, less ‘resilient’ people, it impacts highly resilient, highly capable workers. It doesn’t just impact people’s health, it also impacts the health of the organisation.
Particular workplace, organisational and behavioural factors have a big impact on health and wellbeing, which in turn impacts a series of outcomes. And also, as you might expect, health and wellbeing impacts back on those same factors. How people see their work demands for example is very much affected by their existing wellbeing. And interestingly, (although perhaps we all know this from our own experience) our sense of health and wellbeing can fluctuate from day to day.
Wellbeing programs are an increasingly important response to these challenges facing modern organisational life, but are they addressing the right things?
There are eight factors identified by Professors Sabine Sonnentag, Louis Tay and Hadar Nesher Shoshan in their recent review of 25 years of research on health and wellbeing at work. Their findings provide a clear blueprint of the factors that organisational and HR leaders can use to assess their current approach, identify gaps and create opportunities to bolster the health and wellbeing of their workforce. The factors are outlined in the diagram below, and in more detail in their article. In the absence of a company-wide approach, individuals and leaders can use it to do their own local assessment.
Amongst many areas covered in their review, they look at factors that both promote and protect, and those that threaten wellbeing. ‘Hindrance’ stressors such as heavy workloads and time pressures show stronger associations with long term health impacts. I’m not sure just how much more research we need to demonstrate this point.
This is a welcome review that is very timely and provides a great deal of practical information by which organisations can review what they’re currently doing in the health and wellbeing area, and what they might need to do to create a comprehensive approach to improving wellbeing at work. Put it at the top of your reading list!
You might also be interested in reading my blog which focuses on ways in which your organisation can foster health and wellbeing.