"Just" Objections

Ever since we started talking at Bright Horizons about the big payoffs of supporting the whole person by focusing on employee well-being, I've been regularly asked, "How do you make the case for delving more deeply into employees' lives outside the office?" Their list of concerns:

  • Employers can't be their parents!
  • If we ask, we'll raise the expectations too high.
  • Do we really want to know what people do at home?
  • I can't control all of this in my organization!
  • This seems too big.
  • Where do we draw the line?
  • Aren't those kinds of well-being supports just about making people happy?

Happiness? Meet Sustainable Productivity

Let me start by addressing the last one: "Aren't those kinds of well-being supports just about making people happy?"

And the simple answer is no...happiness may be an outcome, but creating the conditions to sustain employee productivity through points of personal disruption is the real objective.

Truth is, well-being supports do a lot more than just make people happy. They afford people a measure of control over their personal lives a sense of wholeness that serves them well in their work lives. Dealing with unmanaged stress in their personal life, for example, carries an enormous potential distraction in the office. When well supported, on the other hand, that employee is better able to focus and do a great job. He or she simply has more cognitive capacity and the energy to adapt. It's the same for worries about elderly parents, getting kids into college, dealing with neighborhood issues, finishing degrees, getting exercise, building household budgets, car troubles, saving for retirement whatever out-of-work thing is diminishing the well-being of your particular employee population.

The Place Where Employee Well-Being and Employer Success Meet

All of that seems to make the word "just" in the "happy" objection pretty misleading. "Just" implies that happiness is somehow not worth much to employers. But "happy" (synonymous with "contented," "fulfilled," and the much-sought-after "satisfied") is a pretty big deal. An employee with great child care? He's happy. And happy people folks with high levels of well-being who are satisfied with work and life and everything in between work better; they're more productive, resilient, and engaged. Employees whose well-being is supported in and out of work are happier so happy they do great jobs; so happy they don't miss a lot of work days; so happy that when a problem comes along that temporarily derails their forward progress, they're able to bounce back and get back to work as if they'd never been disrupted at all. And right there is the sweet spot the place where employee well-being and employer success meet and make everybody happy.

What Are You "Just" Leaving to Chance?

The rest of that list of objections fall away when you figure that, if only a fraction say 10%  of life is what's happening inside the office, there's potentially another 90% outside that's waiting to derail their well-being...and yours. You can address the 10% with the latest gourmet coffee or by giving employees newfangled ball chairs to sit on, but that 90% will still be dogging them. And that's a pretty big number to ignore and leave to chance if you "just" want your employees to be able to do a great job.

"Just" some food for thought.


Check back for future posts exploring answers to other common objections to corporate well-being strategies. And save the date now to join our upcoming webinar: On June 21, I'll be discussing more about what well-being can do for your organization.
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands

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