Partners for Wellbeing Co-Founder and former Genentech CHRO Nancy Vitale spoke at Cultivate’s Employee Empowerment Summit sharing how the overall wellbeing of employees has become a greater focus within businesses in 2020. Nancy has also been partnering on a research study with Josh Bersin focusing on wellbeing in the workplace. She shared some of her findings and insights into what employee wellbeing means and some strategies companies have used to increase wellbeing in response. You can watch Nancy’s presentation below, or read on for some of her major takeaways. All material and insights are from Nancy Vitale, unless otherwise stated.

Wellbeing has moved into the boardroom and the C-Suite

Nancy believes that one of the silver linings of the Covid-19 pandemic is that employee wellbeing is now receiving attention at the highest levels of organizations. 2020 has brought an acute focus on the requirements for overall employee wellbeing thanks to all of the factors working against it – the virus pandemic, the economic downturn, civil and social unrest, etc. But she cautions that any programs designed to meet the diverse needs of an employee base need to begin with an understanding of what those needs are. She hopes that organizations will continue to focus on holistic employee wellbeing after the immediate crisis has faded and move from helping their employees survive to helping them thrive.

Focus on overall or holistic health and wellbeing

Wellbeing is the state of being healthy, happy and prosperous. This goes far beyond physical and mental health! Here is the framework that Partners for Wellbeing uses to define wellbeing:

  • Fulfillment – Doing things that bring us a sense of happiness or contentment.
  • Human connection/social wellbeing – Feeling like we have meaningful relationships
    with other people. According to Nancy, this is arguably the most important element of wellbeing.
  • Financial wellness – Having enough resources to lead the independent life we want.
  • Community wellbeing – Feeling a sense of belonging where we live and work.
  • Mind-body health – Having the physical and mental health and energy to do the things we desire.

Organizations have been making changes to address these other aspects of wellbeing. it includes being more intentional about meeting times – some organizations have shifted from 30 and 60 minute meetings to 25 and 50 minutes to give employees a break to move and get away from their screens. Others have initiated company-wide bans on lunch hour meetings, more emphasis on regular 1:1 check-ins, and an increase in company-wide days off or monthly mental health days. In some cases, managers are having employees go for a walk while having a 1:1 over the phone.

Organizations are trying to engage employee’s families

Thanks to widespread work from home, the divide between work and home life has blurred. As Nancy put it, “No barriers, no lines.” Her organization has heard of several companies putting on events that include employee’s families to acknowledge this. These include:

  • An international bank held a virtual music activity that invited partners, spouses and children to participate.
  • A healthcare company created a drive-in family movie event in their parking lot.
  • An insurance company that created a virtual teaching/tutoring program for children of their employees.
The Cultivate platform improves human connection

Human connection is a vital part of employee wellbeing, and Nancy believes the Cultivate platform can improve these connections. By helping leaders improve their communication with their teams and with each other, it helps build more positive and meaningful workplace relationships. In turn, this will benefit employee’s overall wellbeing. After all, the manager-employee relationship is the most important one in the workplace!

Digital strategies need to be intentional about accounting for the wellbeing of people

Nancy argues that organizations need to be conscious of the impact their strategies have on the health and wellbeing of people. There’s a degree of “digital intrusion” while working from home and being connected digitally all the time, and this can have negative effects as well as positive ones. Organizations need to understand what these effects are and factor them into their decision-making processes instead of only considering business goals.

You can rewatch all of the speaker sessions here, and read about our top takeaways from the event overall on the Cultivate blog here.

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Cultivate is a digital leadership platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide in-the-moment feedback and tools to enterprise employees. Our mission is to help build stronger workplace relationships, and empower people leaders and employees to be more effective, engaged, and balanced.

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