I was teaching Masters students at IE’s School of Human Sciences and Technology this week. Teaching wellbeing at work to an average age of 25 was a refreshing experience. There was no need to try and convince them of the importance of the topic which they were immediately drawn to, and in which they saw both the business rationale and the necessary responsible care of employees by the organisation.
So what are some of the starting considerations for wellbeing at work? Can we indeed move towards a Return on Investment on such a topic? Thinking on appropriate measures would seem to be a reasonable starting point. Researchers at the Ross School of Business have looked at the factors that support sustainable high performance. They focus on the term ‘thriving’ to describe employees who are not just satisfied and productive but also engaged in creating the future. They see thriving as present when people believe what they are doing makes a difference and that they are learning. Thriving employees are highly energized and know how to avoid burnout.
They found people who fit their description of thriving as having 16% better overall performance (as reported by their managers) and 125% less burnout (self-reported) than their peers. They were 32% more committed to the organization and 46% more satisfied with their jobs. They also missed much less work and reported significantly fewer doctor visits, which meant healthcare savings and less lost time for the company.
Professor Scott DeRue, dean of the school, is convinced of the increasing importance of wellbeing for leadership and performance. He highlights the concept of ‘spillovers’, noting that wellbeing isn’t just something that matters at work: “We’ve found that if people aren’t well at work, they aren’t well at home, and vice versa.” The impact of business on healthy communities and societies is clear, with encouraging signs being a change in attitude with the new generation of managers. Current students at Ross have a thriving Wellness Club which tackles some of the main issues around health and performance that DeRue sees as important for more positive organizational leadership.
About the Author
Dr. Steven MacGregor is the CEO of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona [LAB] an executive education provider and management consultancy with clients including McKinsey, Telefónica and Uber. A Visiting Fellow at the Glasgow School of Art he teaches on open and custom programs at IMD, IE, IESE and CEIBS. Formerly a visiting researcher at Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon he is the author of Chief Wellbeing Officer (LID 2018) and Sustaining Executive Performance (Pearson 2015).