Raúl Carral
Managing Partner and Founder
Academy of Well-Being

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Why Should We Infuse Well-Being Into Organizations?

By Raúl Carral | Tue, 07/26/2022 - 14:00

Over the last few years, there has been a worldwide emphasis on the need for well-being at work. New working realities from the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have increased stress and uncertainty among people, organizations, and economies. Unemployment levels are at historic lows; some examples are the US at 3.6 percent in May 2022 and Mexico at 3.5 percent in the January-March 2022 period. With low unemployment rates, employees have more leverage to change jobs, have more decision-making capacity, and more consideration for well-being. Altogether, there has been a significant trend of employees leaving their jobs due to job-related stressors. Can organizations cultivate well-being and become a magnet for talented employees? Can there be vibrant workplaces for people to produce the best and most positive contributions for sustainable success?

Organizations may not fully recognize the high cost and impact of stress on employees. According to a Hoel, Sparks, and Cooper study, stress and violence at work may account for 1-3.5 percent of GDP. In the US, stress costs organizations an estimated US$300 billion per year, from medical costs to benefits, welfare costs in connection with premature retirement, and losses of productive workers. This estimate does not account for the additional costs of low performance, errors, and suboptimal working processes due to stress. While more than 40 percent of the US workforce suffers from work-related stress, this percentage continues to rise. Similar and higher rates have been reported in other economies.

Stress contributes to employee resignation. In a recent article, Ian Cook analyzed more than 9 million employee records from over 4,000 companies and found some interesting trends in the recent surge of employee resignations. One trend was that midcareer employees aged 30 to 45 have shown the greatest resignation rates. He explained: “Many of these workers may have simply reached a breaking point after months and months of high workloads, hiring freezes, and other pressures, causing them to rethink their work and life goals.” Another trend showed resignations were highest in the technology and healthcare industries.

As reported by the American Psychological Association, adults’ leading sources of stress are health-related concerns, work, the economy, money, family responsibilities, and relationships. These causes of stress can also be interrelated with each other. For instance, work imbalances can also create health, money, and family imbalances. Since stress is higher for adults among the Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X generations, workplace well-being programs could reduce stress and focus on higher-risk groups.

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Well-being infused into workplaces can contribute to the sustained success of organizations. When well-being is integrated into an organization’s core values, strategy, and day-to-day work processes, organizations can thrive and sustain success during favorable and unfavorable economic times. Thriving organizations offer exciting work environments and have high percentages of motivated, talented, positively contributing employees who experience well-being at work with favorable job attitudes.

In thriving organizations, people work together to achieve greater results using their strengths and talents. Processes are influenced and designed by the employees doing the work to maximize performance. There is higher trust between the employees and managers. Communication flows are more effective, and working atmospheres are open and with high energy. These benefits can also impact stakeholders, customers, partners, suppliers, and other interrelated organizations.

Effective workplace well-being programs center on creating thriving organizations. The first step to building a thriving organization is cultivating a commitment to well-being at the highest level of the organization, meaning the CEO and the Board of Directors. Then, leaders envision values, strategy, and processes related to well-being, which cascade down to all employees, making beneficial changes for all. Top management values well-being and adopts an innovative approach to transforming the workplace for all employees. Managers set new baseline conditions for people to perform based on their strengths. Employees have more control over their work from the right conditions and practices. New approaches of collective positive work reinforcement can then emerge with excitement and sustained growth. Finally, this leads to a transformation into a thriving organization, which needs to be monitored, maintained, and reinforced over the long term.

Photo by:   Raúl Carral