• Kat Hounsell

The business case for thriving


Deciding how to divvy up your organisation's pot of cash is no mean feat.


You need to put enough aside to keep the business operating smoothly, to stay compliant, to look after your customers, to win new business, to invest in innovation, to pay your people fairly. And now, even more than ever, you're feeling the pull to assign a big chunk of the budget to cultural initiatives that look after your employees' wellbeing and creating "a great place to work" for all. Is it worth it? Will you see a return on your investment? Will you really have the competitive advantage when your people thrive?


I've been digging and diving to uncover the latest research that will help us answer those questions; it looks like we have some answers. I am personally experiencing a wave of hope. I believe wholeheartedly that everybody prospers when we work with on wellbeing as much as our performance. Looking after one another, as human beings, is paramount. It's nice to know the numbers back this.


So let me share with you some of the highlights - nice facts and stats you can use when engaging the people who hold the purse strings. At the bottom of the article I've also included a handful of links if you're feeling the urge to explore further.


For context, what do I mean by 'thriving'?


Thriving is about holistic prosperity. It's the capacity to grow, develop and be successful. It's a way of being where we have positive mental, emotional, physical, financial and purposeful wealth. It's about realising our full potential and nurturing sustainable performance whether that be as an individual, as a team or as an organisation. Most importantly, thriving is a cultural consideration and it looks, feels, and sounds different to everyone.


As for what we can measure, wellbeing and happiness have been given the most attention.


"For business leaders, it's never been more important to continue to drive the wellbeing agenda forward, to ensure that it remains the boardroom priority at the front of everyone's mind." - Patrick Watt, Corporate Director, Bupa UK

So let's dig into those numbers!


Big picture - Serious strategy incorporates wellbeing


Evidence: FTSE 100 companies demonstrating best practice in employee health and wellbeing show a higher than average shareholder return - 61% instead of 51%. (BITC/Ipsos MORI, 2010)


Evidence: Professor Lord Richard Lanyard, Wellbeing Programme Director at LSE talks about wellbeing as a business issue. In the US, the 100 best places to work saw their stock price rise 50% over 25 years compared to other US companies. (CIPD, 2017)


Evidence: 78% of respondents to a 'State of the Industry' survey see employee wellbeing as a critical component of their business strategy. (Virgin Pulse, 2017)


"It pays off, it's good for the bottom line and its good for the workers... it's got to be a serious priority for business." - Professor Lord Richard Lanyard, LSE Centre for Economic Performance

On the ground - Wellbeing helps people do good work and saves £££


Evidence: Happiness at work decreases absenteeism and staff turnover, and it increases productivity. Happiness Works has a nifty little calculator that provides a snapshot of the potential cost savings for your organisation. I tried it with a 500 person strong organisation. The cost saving equated to £1,039,668. I'm sure you've got some nice ideas of what you would do with a sweet million.


Evidence: Organisations promoting wellbeing for their people are 3.5 times more likely to be creative and innovative. (The Wellness Imperative: World Economic Forum, 2010)


I have also drawn my own conclusion under this heading relating to the New Economics Foundation '5 Ways To Wellbeing' (evidence-based actions for improving mental capital and personal wellbeing)... A culture where people are 1) connecting 2) giving 3) learning 4) noticing and 5) physically active is also a culture where individuals have a growth mindset and behave in such a way that fosters meaningful relationships, encourages new thinking and ultimately produces great work.


On our minds - Mental wellbeing is a workplace priority


I've written about mental health previously, and I'm proud to be a provider of Mental Health First Aid training to organisations, so it was another joy to read about business leaders taking actions to reduce stress and increase mental fitness in the workplace.


At any one time, 1 in 6 workers will be experiencing depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress. The World Health Organisation calls stress "the health epidemic of our time" and in the UK that equates to 91 million days lost, and £26 billion cost to UK employers (Centre for Mental Health) - that's £1,035 for every employee!


Evidence: Organisations such as Unilever are getting a good reputation for work in this area. They're seeing the benefits too. ROI analysis revealed an uptake in Employee Assistance Programme services, and reduction in sickness absence. I imagine if we spoke directly to those involved we would also experience a warmth and pride as a result of the initiatives that have taken/and are taking place.


Evidence: More generally, mental health support has been reported as one of the top three most effective wellbeing initiatives at work (REBA, 2017).


"Mental wellbeing is now getting much more attention at the very top of UK businesses, and there's a growing realisation that a mentally healthier workforce is a commercial necessity." - Brian Heyworth, Global Head of Client Strategy, HSBC

So, is there a business case for thriving?


Well, yes, I believe so. And not just for short term budgeting but for long-term strategic planning. Helping individuals, teams and organisations to thrive isn't a hot topic that will be here in 2017 and gone by 2018. It's a way of being that will embed and sustain positive cultural change and engage people at work.


I like nothing more than to partner with organisations who take thriving as seriously as I do. I'd be honoured to chat with you about your own thriving vision. Drop me a message on LinkedIn or connect with me on twitter @everyday_action.


In the meantime...


5 really great links for further exploration


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