Wellbeing matters, but in the modern world we live in, it now means something new. See how becoming more ‘conscious’ can unlock wellbeing benefits for both leaders and organisations.
A bitter pill to swallow
Imagine the irony of this situation – looking up from the laptop, to see an array of vitamin pills stood proudly on a shelf, right next to an advent calendar offering 24 days of sugar. Probably a common sight in kitchens everywhere. Ironic because while the pills are there to bolster good health, some would say the sugar goes towards nullifying the benefits.
Is this the same with some organisations? Companies offer great employee benefits to promote wellbeing: flexible working, private medical insurance, decent holiday allowances (the vitamins). And at the same time, quash those benefits with poor cultures and behaviours, characterised by: unrealistic demands, long working hours, or a lack of support and direction from leaders (the sugar).
In fact, it’s the sugar that accounts for the top three causes of stress absence from work:*
- Workloads/volume of work
- Management style
- Relationships at work
Being conscious of the effects of workplace sugar, and addressing it through effective and impactful wellbeing strategies, leads to wellness amongst employees.
The definition of wellbeing is more sophisticated than you think
Imagine wellbeing as a spectrum with wellness at one end and illness at the other.
Wellbeing is about fulfilling and fostering a range of human needs that keep employees well, including: physical, social, mental and emotional and, for some, spiritual.
When you look at wellbeing from this perspective, you realise how complex it can be.
Many workplaces have a wellbeing strategy. In fact, around 40% of companies do. ** But for these strategies to be successful, they must address every need.
For example, an employee ‘step-challenge’ may help fulfil your physical needs, but if you feel like you can’t leave your desk because of excessive work demands, then other needs are being neglected.
And what’s more, wellbeing strategies should be aimed at keeping employees well, even when they already feel well, not when they’re heading towards illness.
How awake are you?
If you’re consciously aware of yourself, your needs, and the needs of those around you – you’re exercising Conscious Intelligence. This is especially important for those in leadership roles.
In the Cambridge Dictionary, the word ‘conscious’, depending on context, means:
- To notice that a particular thing or person exists or is present.
- Awake, thinking, and knowing what is happening around you.
- Determined and intentional.
How powerful would it be, if leaders in every organisation behaved in this way? But most of the time, people are acting unconsciously – in fact, 95% of the time. ***
Knowing the impact you have on those around you, and those you lead, means you can be the best you can be, and in turn, get the most out of your people.
And what’s more, when you work on becoming more conscious of who you are, and what you need, you’re automatically improving your wellbeing.
Look at the model on your right.
If you’re self-aware, and aware of others (in other words, ‘conscious’), you’re able to grow – because you know you need to, and you’re adept at enabling others to be the best they can be too – because you know who they truly are, and what they’re capable of.
If you’re blind to the person you really are, then you limit your own potential and you neglect the needs of others, be that your peers or your employees. Being ‘unconscious’, also means you overlook your own wellbeing needs and increase your risk of mental ill health, burn out, and poor relationships.
5 characteristics of Conscious Leadership
Conscious Leadership in organisations leads to healthier working environments.
Here’s an introduction to the five areas companies and leaders can focus on, to achieve Conscious Leadership – addressing the cultures and behaviours that fundamentally affect wellbeing.
1. Being awake – in other words, being conscious of what’s going on all around you. A commitment to critically understanding yourself and the impact you have on the people you lead. Getting conscious may mean asking yourself: Do you ever ask for feedback? If not, what scares you about it?
2. Being resilient – in other words, being conscious of how you react when life throws you lemons. Being able to bounce back and ‘show up’ with a healthy mindset. Getting conscious may mean asking yourself: Can you spot any signs that you are under too much pressure?
3. Working together – in other words, being conscious of the connections you create, and paying attention to the most basic human need of belonging. Stripping away command and control behaviours and instead, collaborating with your peers and employees as equals, for the good of the business. Getting conscious may mean asking yourself: What needs to change for you to feel you can partner with team members?
4. Always growing – in other words, being conscious that you can always learn more and grow as a person. Getting conscious may mean asking yourself: Do you question your current thinking or ideas, or stay open minded when others do this?
5. Operating with purpose – in other words, being conscious of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and mobilising and energising your team around a common goal. Getting conscious may mean asking yourself: Do you have a clear idea of the priorities, and why they need to be done?
Get more conscious today
The Conscious Effect – 50 Lessons for Better Organisational Wellbeing is out now.
In a nutshell, the book is for any leader or organisation that wants to improve wellbeing by getting more conscious and being more human.
At school, we’re taught how to look after our physical health, but not our mental and emotional health. But the modern workplace we operate in, demands we know what’s going on in our own minds, and the minds of our people – to not only survive, but to thrive.
Conscious Leadership will help create healthier working environments, and unlock wellbeing in the workplace. And whilst it won’t happen overnight, there are steps that leaders and organisations can start taking from today.
Find out what Natasha Wallace thinks about productivity here.
Natasha Wallace, founder of Conscious Works specialises in organisational performance and wellbeing. She works with organisations to create the conditions that enable people to perform and take better care of their wellbeing. If you’d like to talk more about anything in this article, please get in touch with Natasha Wallace here.
** The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2018 Health and Wellbeing at Work Report.
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