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How to get your managers onboard with employee wellbeing

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Since the start of the 2020 pan­dem­ic, there’s been a rise in well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions at work. Data from Clear Review showed that since March 2020, well­be­ing as a top­ic has shot up in check-in conversations.

(Source: Clear Review)

We hope going for­ward this surge in well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions nor­malis­es talk­ing about well­be­ing in orga­ni­za­tions and that a focus on well­be­ing remains an inte­gral part of work­ing life. How­ev­er, to ensure that you are pri­or­i­tiz­ing well­be­ing, there needs to be a shift in the way orga­ni­za­tions do things. Man­agers are key to ensur­ing employ­ee well­be­ing. Orga­ni­za­tions and HR must train man­agers to pri­ori­tise well­be­ing in their team, to ensure this is not anoth­er failed initiative.”

Types of man­agers and how they can sup­port wellbeing

Employ­ee well­be­ing is heav­i­ly influ­enced by their imme­di­ate team and most impor­tant­ly their man­ag­er. But not all man­agers are cre­at­ed alike. Rang­ing from inspir­ing lead­ers to acci­den­tal man­agers, your orga­ni­za­tion most like­ly has a mixture. 

Why does this mat­ter? Con­sid­er­ing all man­agers will have a dif­fer­ent lev­el of con­fi­dence and exper­tise in man­ag­ing well­be­ing, we can­not just sim­ply apply a one-fits-all think­ing to improv­ing well­be­ing. We find that most of your man­age­ment pop­u­la­tion will fit into three buckets. 

The Acci­den­tal Manager

How to iden­ti­fy them?

This is some­one who has become a man­ag­er due to tenure or because some­one had to do’ the job. They are not nec­es­sar­i­ly nat­ur­al lead­ers and haven’t been trained to be man­agers either. Man­agers who don’t have time for non-core activ­i­ty’ or begin con­ver­sa­tions with HR told me to talk to you about this’ most like­ly fall into this category.

Your role as HR:

You will need to coax, cajole, coach and chal­lenge these man­agers into bet­ter behav­iour. Explain what is in it for them (WIITFM). Peo­ple who have high well­be­ing lev­els are more pro­duc­tive and per­form bet­ter. One Sales­force report revealed that employ­ees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more like­ly to feel empow­ered to per­form their best work. You need to under­stand whether hav­ing well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions is some­thing they can’t do’ or some­thing that they won’t do’. If it’s the for­mer, coach them and give them the resources to get them to the can do’ stage. If it’s the lat­ter, use exam­ples of oth­er man­agers and explain that as a peo­ple man­ag­er this is expect­ed of them.

Com­pa­nies that are doing this:

Fran­cis Lake from Vir­gin Mon­ey explains how nor­mal­is­ing well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions between man­agers and employ­ees has been crit­i­cal for them. 

Check-ins should be non-threat­en­ing. To do that, the first thing to cov­er off in your check-ins is whether you are on track. Once that is out of the way, the rest of the check-ins should be about the whole per­son and well­be­ing is crit­i­cal. We start­ed mak­ing well­be­ing part of a check in, and our think­ing on that is that if we nor­malise it, then when times are bad, you are more like­ly to have that con­ver­sa­tion. It means it’s okay to have a con­ver­sa­tion about how some­one is doing.”

One way you could start includ­ing well­be­ing in your check-ins is by hav­ing tem­per­a­ture checks at the start. This is some­thing we do at Clear Review. Tem­per­ate checks are a way of employ­ees let­ting you know how they feel on a scale of 1 – 10. To help talk more about that, you could ask what would make you score one high­er? This can help open up the con­ver­sa­tion to see what things you can do as a man­ag­er to sup­port your employee. 

Your tools:

To nor­malise well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions, some of the tools you can use are 1 – 1 Guid­ance and coach­ing prompts. This can help give acci­den­tal man­agers the tools they need to start think­ing about how they inte­grate well being into con­ver­sa­tions with their employees. 

You can also take a look at our webi­nar on how to have well­be­ing conversations.

Down­load well­be­ing prompts for discussion:

The Will­ing and Train­able Majority

How to iden­ti­fy them?

A large pro­por­tion of your man­agers should fall into this cat­e­go­ry. They may be new man­agers or already have expe­ri­ence but they take peo­ple man­age­ment seri­ous­ly. The will­ing major­i­ty will be look­ing to you for your help and guid­ance and will be much more engaged with HR ini­tia­tives than The Acci­den­tal Manager’.

Your role as HR:

Focus on build­ing their con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence and remind­ing them why this is worth doing. One way to do this is to team them up with your well­be­ing advo­cates Super­heros’ so that they can learn from them. Recog­nis­ing their work so that they remem­ber why this is worth doing is key. Reg­u­lar feed­back and easy to use and find resources will be your best friend.

Com­pa­nies that are doing this:

Inter­na­tion­al prop­er­ty con­sul­tant firm, Ger­ald Eve, uses feed­back to sup­port well­be­ing through coach­ing style con­ver­sa­tions. They’ve done this by using Clear Review to encour­age and embrace coach­ing and men­tor­ing style feed­back and con­ver­sa­tions, in order to under­stand their peo­ple bet­ter. This focus towards improv­ing employ­ee engage­ment and well­be­ing has been cel­e­brat­ed with a win at the EG Awards, wht Ger­ald Eve win­ning Employ­er of the year.”

Hav­ing resources read­i­ly avail­able for your man­agers and sign­post­ing them to it is impor­tant, accord­ing to Beth Sam­son from Investors in Peo­ple. In one of our well­be­ing webi­na­rs, Beth explains how sign­post­ing can help direct man­agers to the right resources so that they can sup­port their team, with­out rely­ing on HR.

Your tools:

Team­ing them up with oth­er well­be­ing advo­cates in your organization

Down­load self-reflec­tion tool for man­agers and employees

Download self-reflection tool

The Super­hero – The Enlight­ened Advocate

How to iden­ti­fy them?

For the most part you will know who these peo­ple are. They see their team’s well­be­ing and suc­cess as their pri­or­i­ty. You will have prob­a­bly heard great feed­back from oth­ers about their col­lab­o­ra­tive and inclu­sive man­age­ment style. If they were to ask for some­thing from you it would be Trust and empow­er me to get on with it”.

Your role as HR:

Trust, release, empow­er and use them to cross-pol­li­nate great well­be­ing prac­tices in the orga­ni­za­tion. Don’t con­strain them with unnec­es­sary process or bureau­cra­cy and trust them to get it right. Cel­e­brate their work and use their meth­ods as com­pa­ny best prac­tice’ and most impor­tant­ly involve them in con­sul­ta­tion and deci­sion mak­ing when it comes to new well­be­ing initiatives.

Com­pa­nies that are doing this:

One of the ways you could do this is by dis­cussing with your man­agers, how you can incor­po­rate well­be­ing into objec­tives. This is some­thing that Wes­leyan is doing. They have well­be­ing objec­tives which are part of per­son­al devel­op­ment objec­tives. This ensures that their teams well­be­ing and suc­cess is a pri­or­i­ty. They use the Clear Review sys­tem — which they have inter­nal­ly brand­ed as Thrive — to sup­port well­be­ing prac­tices in their orga­ni­za­tion as well as cel­e­brate their work. For exam­ple, with­in a few months of using Clear Review, they’ve had over 300 well-being objec­tives set, focus­ing on main­tain­ing men­tal & phys­i­cal health, giv­ing back and improv­ing work-life balance.

Cel­e­brat­ing the feed­back these man­agers get is also a great way to share what these man­agers are doing. You could hold well­ness ses­sions where these man­agers share their best prac­tice with the rest of the organization.

Your tools:

Inter­nal Comms – cel­e­brate what these man­agers do

Involve them in con­ver­sa­tions about well­be­ing initiatives

Down­load our well­be­ing ses­sion for man­agers to run with their team

Download wellbeing session

What can organ­i­sa­tions do to make well­be­ing a pri­or­i­ty across the organisation?

Although man­agers are cru­cial to ensur­ing employ­ee well­be­ing, there are some things that organ­i­sa­tions can do to make it part of the com­pa­ny cul­ture. We’ve spo­ken to mul­ti­ple organ­i­sa­tions about how they are sup­port­ing their employ­ees’ well­be­ing. Here are some exam­ples of things you could do. 

Have a ded­i­cat­ed team that are well­be­ing advo­cates and can sup­port managers

Some ways in which you can embed the impor­tance of well­be­ing into the organ­i­sa­tion is by hav­ing a ded­i­cat­ed team that cham­pi­ons these con­ver­sa­tions. At Clear Review for exam­ple, we have The Guardians who are made up from one mem­ber of each team. They are there to uphold the company’s val­ues and com­mit­ments and sup­port well­be­ing through­out the organ­i­sa­tion. Sim­i­lar­ly, Beth Sam­son at Investors in Peo­ple talks about how vol­un­teers from their organ­i­sa­tion have teamed up to sup­port employ­ees. Each per­son has at least one oth­er per­son that they check in with reg­u­lar­ly to make sure they are okay. 

Talk about well­be­ing and hold ses­sions where peo­ple can learn more

Talk­ing about well­be­ing reg­u­lar­ly as a com­pa­ny is also impor­tant if you want your employ­ees to know that it is a pri­or­i­ty. You could hold ses­sions where you dis­cuss well­be­ing and how to improve it. Employ­ee well­be­ing is real­ly impor­tant to us at Clear Review and to help talk about it more, we have month­ly Well­ness Wednes­days. These are com­pa­ny-wide ses­sions that we have every month or some­times twice a month, where we dis­cuss dif­fer­ent things that may impact our well­be­ing — every­thing from men­tal health to things like finan­cial wellbeing.

Offer Coach­ing

Although feed­back is a great way to incor­po­rate men­tor­ing and coach­ing style con­ver­sa­tions, it’s also impor­tant to incor­po­rate coach­ing style con­ver­sa­tions in check ins. To help man­agers have coach­ing con­ver­sa­tions you could go through coach­ing prompts and run train­ing ses­sions with them. You could also offer coach­ing to all employ­ees to help sup­port them with per­son­al devel­op­ment and career conversations.

Learn more about how your man­agers can get on board with well­be­ing conversations

Watch our webi­nar where our pan­el of experts will be dis­cussing how man­agers can get behind well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions and sup­port their employ­ees. We will be joined by Natasha Wal­lace of Con­scious Works, AllY Ill­s­ley from BT, Daniel Proc­ter from Waltham For­est Coun­cil and Emma Foote, from Clear Review.

wellbeing webinar on how managers can support wellbeing