NEHRA 2017 Takeaways: 10 Questions to Impact Employee Wellbeing

NEHRA 2017 - Employee Wellbeing

Recently, an email from a furniture company made the rounds with this enticing subject line: a simple step to a happier life.

Turns out, it was for a mattress.

Now there's a lot to be said for the power of a good night's sleep. But that one thing isn't going to make a difference in someone's wellbeing if the rest of life is out of whack.

Employee Wellbeing Insights from NEHRA

And that, more or less, was a theme of the recent NEHRA conference. Well-being at work isn't about one solution. There isn't a cause-and-effect simple one or two things employers can drop into a workplace to magically transform their people.

The employee wellbeing movement has grown up to recognize that stress-management tools - including mindfulness training, deep breathing, and meditation, and flexible work benefits -- are all very important, but cannot instantly wipe stress away from our workplaces.

Conference discussions were around HR processes that promote well-being within organizations in deeply rooted and sustainable ways. The sessions encouraged HR practitioners to dig deep into their people processes and restructure old ways of doing work to create less stress. One simple question asked in one session was "How easy is it for managers in your organization to file transfer paperwork?" If HR processes are labor and time intensive, chances are they're contributing to stress managers feel on a regular basis.

Ten Questions to Ask About WellBeing

So what can we do about it? To get started on the right foot, HR professional needs to ask themselves a series of questions:

Are we using the right technology solutions to support streamlined processes

Does technology work for us or are we working for technology? How can we streamline HR processes and align systems to create a more user friendly environment?

Are people overtasked?

Is work routinely stretching outside the bounds of a reasonable workday into nights, early mornings, and weekends? Are people stressed about - or even able to take - vacations? Are job descriptions realistic so that success is attainable for solid performers as well as your high performers?

Is there a culture of feedback?

Are you encouraging people to speak their minds? Do employees have the forums and processes to do so effectively?

Is your leadership development effective?

Are you developing people to support the type of workplace you want to be? Do you train your leaders to create, sustain, and manage change in smart and sensitive ways?

Are your messages being communicated down line?

You can have all the policies in the world. But if at the end of the day you don't have managers talking about them, supporting them, and using them, you're nowhere.

Are managers accountable?

If remote working is in your values statement, then a manager who refuses to let people work at home is sending an entirely different message than you want. How are you holding that person accountable?

What is the culture of project work?

How do you place people on projects and does each person on a project team know what they are responsible for delivering? Do you have knowledge sharing practices that are used consistently across your organization?

What's leave like at your organization?

Have you thought about all aspects of the process -- not just the leave itself, but also the on-ramping that ensures the employee's continued growth and advancement on the other side? Remember -- leave can be an opportunity for everyone; for parents to get the time they need; and for other employees to get cross-functional and talent-mobility exposure covering a fraction of a job while a colleague is out. But all of the above will require processes and cultures that promote reliance on each other, talent mobility, and careers at important life transitions.

How do you talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

Do employees see diversity represented at the highest levels of the organization? Do they observe equal career advancement and equal work practices among diverse groups?  If not, we can guarantee that the groups who do not feel represented also feel stressed out.

Do you offer stress management, mindfulness, well-being, meditation learning opportunities for all employees?

This is still a crucial part of increasing well-being at work. Not only that they are offered, but that managers allow time and space for employees to take advantage of them.

What Can't Be Said Often Enough

It can't be repeated enough that these questions require introspection, reflection, and much discussion. If your answer to question 2 is "Yes, our people are routinely working on weekends," the question is why? What processes and policies would help? How can you create change, introduce change, and manage change in a scalable and healthy way?

We'll be diving into each of the above in detail in future blogs, particularly the leave question which was the focus of our presentation. But for now, let's start looking at HR's impact on well-being in a new and exciting way.  We need to give less lip service to going to the well-being room and more to thinking about what we're doing to help shape less stressful work

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.