Readers of my blog know I am a huge fan of author, speaker and CEO Tony Schwartz. In his most recent article in the Harvard Business Review blog, he wonders – if companies know investing in employee wellness is imperative to the health of their organization, why don’t more companies follow through?
Take this startling research:
So if we know what is good for us, why don’t we follow through?
Schwartz conducted an informal poll of CEO’s at the World Economic Forum last week. They unanimously agreed employees perform better if they are happier and healthier at work. However, they also agreed the amount of time, energy and money invested in wellness at their company was very little.
The value can seem hard to measure, and the ROI can take years. In order to move forward and increase the health of an organization, Schwartz points out we must imagine the future consequences of our actions, and sacrifice more in the short-term to generate more value in the long-term.
We must re-wire our thinking in order to achieve this goal. Schwartz conversed with two neuroscientists who have demonstrated that our brains have “extraordinary plasticity”. From the article:
“It’s possible, they’ve found, for human beings to systematically train the regulation of negative emotion and to increase our capacity for calm reflectiveness in the face of high stress. MRI scans can measure, for instance, brain activity associated with empathy and compassion — and people can cultivate those attributes through deliberate practice”
It is possible to train our brain through practice, to develop habits (many developed through Applied Improvisation) that can help increase our well-being, happiness, and it turns out, productivity at work. In the same respect, CEO’s and decision makers can train their brain to be less short-term focused in their perspective and to work on imagining and preparing for the future.
Resistance to spending on training and wellness at work is also attributed to a fear that employees will take their new skills elsewhere. However, by investing in employees, demonstrating concern for their well-being and enhancement of skills, it becomes easier to retain and attract employees.
What can your company do to increase wellness?