Tripping over the truth – moments of insight that reframed work and life

Tripping over the truth – moments of insight that reframed work and life

In the 10 years that COMUNiTI has been designing workplaces and I’ve been supporting individuals to live a life by design, a megatrend has emerged: wellbeing. 

For business, in the early days, this meant focusing on injury management and occupational health — hello ergonomic chairs! Then the focus broadened to include proactive physical wellbeing — in some workplaces this meant replacing cookie jars with fruit bowls and offering lunchtime yoga, or my fav, the Step Challenge! In recent years, and certainly inside the most progressive organisations, health and wellbeing has become systemic — it’s considered through the lens of emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing, and it’s supported through all aspects of the workplace environment, the design of work itself, and leadership mindsets and behaviours.

It was a Podcast conversation with Dr Gary Webb, from Mars Inc (yep, the global manufacturer of some of your favourite snacks), that crystallised what I had been observing and experiencing. It helped me put my finger on something that viscerally, I knew was true: wellbeing is a holistic endeavour that can only shift when it is embedded into all of our rhythms and rituals. It has to be a guiding principle that underpins our decision-making.

Gary is on the Global Health and Wellbeing Centre of Excellence and Leadership team at Mars, and he shared some interesting examples about Mars’ approach. At the end of the day, their leaders care about wellbeing — not because of the ‘return’ or ‘KPI’ — but quite simply, because they care. And while the health and wellbeing of their workforce does get measured, Gary explains that real success isn’t in the numbers. “We feel it. We see it,” he said.

At Mars, and within other organisations I work with, they don’t build discrete programs to create value around the edges. They don’t ‘do’ health and wellbeing, so to speak. Instead, they bake it into their leadership philosophy, operating environment and company culture, and reinforce it through their approach to flexibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. From a workplace design perspective, they also include physical attributes once considered ‘nice to haves’, like parents lounges, low sensory rooms and quiet meditation spaces, supporting neurodiversity, mental and emotional wellbeing of all people.

As work and life become more integrated, I’m so pleased that wellbeing has earned its rightful place as a shared responsibility of the employee and employer. And as our understanding of what constitutes ‘well’ continues to evolve, I want to replay this line from a Gallup report because it continues to ring true…

“People with thriving wellbeing simply do better in life. And companies with thriving employees do better business.”

If you’d like to read more about the topic of wellbeing in designing dynamic workplaces, head to Chapter 4 of my book: The Next Workplace.

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