Why a Wellbeing Day or Week doesn’t move the dial

I’ve done it .. so I absolutely apply ZERO judgement in this blog post. I have run some of the best wellbeing days, weeks and months in the organisations I have worked for. I am actually pretty awesome at these kind of initiatives - I can kick off something like you wouldn’t believe. Equally I know they don’t move the dial on wellbeing.

So what gets wellbeing to the races?

So what do wellbeing days or weeks do?

Wellbeing days and weeks are inordinately good at giving wellbeing a voice, raising awareness and they can be a shed load of fun! So they do have purpose, 100% they do.

However, if we think they are moving the dial and are going to bring about any real change in your organisations wellbeing, we will be sorely disappointed.

When deciding whether you opt for a wellbeing day/week - Vs - a more sustained programmatic approach, it really depends on what you want to achieve. For some companies, awareness and fun hit-the-mark, for others looking to drive competitive edge, drive engagement and efficiencies they do not.

The best analogy that a HR Director shared recently with me was wellbeing at work is just like going to the gym. 'It is better to go to the gym for a week or month a year, than not at all – of course it is. But if you want to get fit and healthy, you need to be going regularly'. Makes sense. We all know that culture is what you do ‘day to day’.

When companies proclaim that wellbeing is front and centre of their corporate strategy and people are their competitive advantage, employees watch for their commitment. Cue, the big wellbeing week kick off, followed by a couple of classes/talks throughout the year and employees know what that means …

Let’s take the example of a company who wants to push a particular sales objective through as part of their annual strategy.

What happens ?

  • Big kick off ✔️

  • Multiple emails, videos, and Manager mini-kick offs ✔️

  • Daily, Weekly or monthly activities and target reviews ✔️

  • Changes as required if the company is not hitting its goal ✔️

  • Recognising high performers and contributors ✔️

  • Targets or metrics ✔️

  • Continuous communication and PR around the initiative ✔️

  • Celebration and PIR ✔️

You get where this is going … now we understand why employees know when a company is really committed or not to wellbeing. People are smart they watch and wait, they have seen initiatives come and go, they know real culture - Vs - quick corporative initiatives.

Many people may think that I am poo-pooing (not sure if that’s a real word) wellbeing days because I run a wellbeing company. But the truth is, you can have a fantastically effective wellbeing culture without engaging anyone externally. And the even better news is that it doesn’t need to cost the earth. There is no end to what a curious, fun, creative workspace can do to build an awesome culture of wellbeing that fuels an innovative, connected and engaged workspace. However we do need to be aware of the choices we make and the impact of them – so before you pack of your HR Leader or your Team to run another wellbeing day, I would encourage you to ask yourself two questions :

  1. What is it we want to achieve with wellbeing ?

  2. What is the right way to get after that?

If it’s a wellbeing day, deadly! If it’s something else, equally great!

We would love to hear your learnings in this space. How has your organisation managed to create a culture of well-being? How do you best use wellbeing days/weeks? Any tips or advice?

Michelle Fogarty

COO @ PepTalk

Let's make work better …

At PepTalk, engagement is at the heart of all our wellbeing platform. Our platform is about energy, passion and fun while being grounded in key business outcomes. To find out more about this area and our wider PepTalk offering book a demonstration at www.peptalk.ie or email james@peptalk.ie

Shout out to the super talented James Curran for his epic gif

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