Tribe Culture Change | The greatest threat to well-being hides in plain sight
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The greatest threat to well-being hides in plain sight

Groups of people stood either side of a chasm

The greatest threat to well-being hides in plain sight

There’s a serious threat to well-being in your organisation. Worse still, it isn’t all that obvious. In fact it’s a workplace attitude that many of us take for granted, barely giving it a second thought as we stumble over it in our daily duties.

It’s our natural tendency to work only within distinct, closed groups of likeminded people – often referred to as ‘silo mentality’ or ‘silo working’. It happens when teams or departments become protective of information and effectively hinder knowledge-sharing throughout an organisation.

In the short-term, silo working seems fine; HR ‘hire and fire’ people, and in the meantime the safety team keeps them out of harm’s way. Each business unit has a unique agenda – it’s policies and legislation to comply with, and feel quite content to carry on that way indefinitely.

Yet with longer-term risks to well-being – ones that don’t respect departmental boundaries like sickness, absence and mental health problems, the threat becomes more apparent.

With silo working, serious issues like prolonged exposure to stress can often fall into those gaps between HR, safety, operations and quality; voids where responsibility isn’t clear, and well-intentioned ideas disappear without trace, only to fester and reemerge perhaps years later as ‘slow accidents’.

At Tribe, we believe that distinct disciplines – HR and safety in particular, can work far more closely and holistically in organisations, especially when it comes to improving health and well-being at work.

And the smartest way to bridge those gaps and reduce silo mentality is with a more inclusive approach.

So where do we begin?

Put simply, you look for common ground. How can your different departments help one another? Where do their interests and agendas overlap?

That’s where people must come together and get to grips with why health and safety deserves special attention. Groups within the same organisation often have far more in common than you think, when it comes to valuing staff and keeping them well.

Too many organisations unwittingly send out mixed messages to staff. Leaders may be keen to encourage fitness amongst staff and put fruit bowls in the office, yet they’re the same managers dialling up the pressure to meet unrealistic targets.

Those conflicting agendas come across as insensitive and insulting to staff, and instantly sabotage well-intentioned ideas to keep them healthy. Worse still, it courts bad press for the brand when staff inevitably dissent.

It’s easy to see why this situation happens, of course.

In the face of ailing performance, rising absence and sickness, leaders often feel like it’s better to be seen doing something – anything, rather than nothing. When in fact the correct response demands careful planning and discussion about the best response to what is a very complex problem.

So the secret lies in aligning all your good ideas about boosting health and well-being. That means making sure they share the same vision, and don’t compete or have unintended side-effects.

How do you do that? The Tribe way: with strong engagement and open discussion.

A full-spectrum approach for a full-spectrum challenge

Right now we’re designing an exciting new series of ‘SWell’ Masterclasses – a brand new, cross-industry informed approach to bridging the gap between HR and safety.

Yet that in itself presents an interesting challenge.

On the one hand we want to prove that this isn’t quite as difficult as you imagine it to be. And that you can use many of the resources you already have available.

But on the other, we have to convince you to do something different if you want to change perceptions. And persuade you that the best way to do that is by bringing the long-term consequences to life, by exciting, engaging and motivating your people.

Because remember – the consequences of poor health and neglected well-being tend to manifest more gradually, over time. The causes get all tangled up with what happens both at work and at home, whereas the consequences of poor safety tend to be more immediate.

So our plan is to link everything you already know about health and safety all together, more holistically. Let’s stop this piecemeal, disconnected approach with fruit bowls and subsidised gym memberships alone. And make each department’s clever idea complement those of its peers, united behind one forward-thinking vision for a more empowered workforce.

We’ll show you how to use this connected approach as a platform to grow and enhance what you already have in place. This won’t demand a radical shift. At Tribe we prefer to go with the flow, rather than resist it, so you’re able to tackle as many full-spectrum health and well-being challenges as possible, with the resources you already have.

What next?

Like we’ve said, this is progressive stuff. In our view few, if any, have cracked health and well-being at the cultural level yet.

But what we can do is what we’ve always done at Tribe: focus on the problem – those gaps caused by silo mentality, and use our leadership and communication know-how to connect and engage your people in the process of bridging them.

SWell is poised to push health and well-being right to the top of the agenda. As you read this we’re already analysing research, best-practice and exciting new technologies with the greatest potential. And our first get-together is in Birmingham on 27th July, followed by Manchester on 27th September 2017.

Are you a forward-thinking industry practitioner or leader, ready to push things to the next level – beyond law and compliance? Do you really understand the benefits of keeping people healthy and happy at work, and see them as an asset?

If so, join our pioneering SWell Masterclass. Get in touch to find out more.

Tribe Tribe
debbie.beecher@tribecc.com