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7 Key Building Blocks To Create Well-Being At Work

Written by: Bruce Alfred, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Are you leaving your competitive edge on the conference room table? Most (80% to be more specific) companies know that organizational well-being is important to maintain a strong, competitive business. Yet only 12% report that they are ready to move forward with organizational well-being initiatives.

One reason so few companies are actually moving ahead is likely a bit of a knowledge gap. We covered some of the misunderstandings around well-being and offered research backing up the business case for organizational well-being in our previous post.

If you’d like to see data that shows how well-being initiatives translate into positive business results, all in one easy-to-digest document, download our infographic now.

So, the remaining question is this: what does work in terms of creating well-being at work? Granted, this is a big topic. Nonetheless, we can look at it in a way that makes it quite simple to get a feel for.

Organizational well-being can be improved by working on two main initiatives:

  1. Creating meaning at work

  2. Creating a supportive and positive workplace

In our first post we presented this table to show how the needs of today’s workers have changed:

The needs identified in the above “Present” column can be met by the two overarching initiatives (meaning at work and supportive + positive workplace). The next chart maps this out.

Quick recap: Well-being at work has two overarching components:

  1. Meaning at Work

  2. Positive + Supportive Workplace

These components are built by getting the supporting foundations in place… the building blocks. Let’s run through the seven key building blocks now.

Component One: Meaning at Work

Well-Being Building Blocks 1 - 2:

Purpose and Growth

Meaning at work is all about cultivating the connection to why your people do what they do (purpose), and ensuring that they have clear pathways to both personal and professional development opportunities (growth).

Forward-looking companies are already capitalizing on this.

For example, Accenture is running campaigns to attract new employees via purpose.

Amazon and Waste Management are doubling down on growth opportunities for their people. Amazon offers “Career Choice” learning opportunities, including higher education, for hourly employees after just 90 days of employment. Waste Management takes it even further offering free educational opportunities to employees, and their spouses and children.

Note that both Amazon and Waste Management understand what their employees want in terms of growth. They are not just offering professional growth, such as training that helps employees advance in their current job, they are offering personal growth opportunities that can actually help employees advance out of their current position or even out of the organization. Why would Amazon and Waste Management offer paths that might advance employees away from them? Because they understand exactly how important that personal development path is to employees. Workers will go where they can find the most meaning at work. Compensation and perks are significantly less important.

Initiative Two: Positive + Supportive Work Environment

What does it mean to create a work environment that is supportive and positive? Think of creating a place where people feel connected, in control, and safe. The place at which people look forward to doing their best work every day.

Positive Workplace Building Blocks 3 - 7: Here are several of the key building blocks necessary to create a positive and supportive culture.

3. Support from Manager

Just say “no” to old-style command and control bosses: The younger generations demand managers who have their back, inspire them and help them develop. In short, they want a coach, not a boss.

Why this makes sense: The quality of team leaders is the single biggest factor in an organization's success. 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. It takes a pay increase of around 20% to lure most employees away from managers who engage them.

4. Belonging

It is time to go beyond DEI efforts: Belonging, the feeling of being accepted and included by those around you, is a leading indicator of both intent to stay and performance.

Why this makes sense: U.S. businesses spend nearly 8 billion dollars each year on diversity and inclusion (D&I) training that miss the mark because they neglect employees’ need to feel included.

Workplace belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days.

5. Autonomy

Flexibility is now an expectation: Autonomy has always been important, but in our pandemic-changed world, we’re seeing a new level of demand for autonomy that includes workers' desire for flexibility (when/where they work) and control over their work.

Why this makes sense: The amount of autonomy that an employee has to determine what they do and how they do it—has a major impact on their physical and mental health, and therefore on absenteeism, productivity, and engagement.

6. Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is a strong antidote to toxic culture: One of the best ways to fight toxic culture is to create (and live) a culture of psychological safety. Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. It means that colleagues are supportive of one another even when they don’t agree; that they come to the table as collaborators, not adversaries.

A toxic culture is a primary reason people resign compensation is much less of an issue. By building cultures of psychological safety (and belonging), organizations can make great strides in building a positive culture.

7. Work Best Friend

Building social ties at work, works: Research shows that there is a clear link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

Why this makes sense: Social well-being is predictive of engagement. For example, women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).

How to Get Started

Remember that little factoid I shared at the start of this post? Only 12% of companies describe themselves as ready to improve their organizational well-being. The scope of well-being can seem overwhelming as most business transformation does when looking at all the aspects at one time.

The journey of redesigning work for well-being, like any journey, starts with your taking the first step. Unlike the companies who give lip service to well-being, when your people see that you are genuinely interested in their well-being and will make changes to improve and sustain it, you are on your way.

It boils down to this. When businesses invest in meeting the inner needs of their people by improving their experience of meaningful work, creating a supportive and positive workplace they will see improved business performance.

But there’s another reason to embed well-being into your organization: JOY.

We all could use more joy in our lives.

When there is more meaning and purpose and positivity at work, there’s more joy. Let’s all go out and grow more joy.

Ready to learn more about how to boost your organizational well-being and create more joy? Contact one of our experts at BolsterUp.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Bruce Alfred, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

In 2005, as a father of four young children, Bruce was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He threw himself into learning everything he could about stress reduction, positive mindset, mindfulness, and resilience.

Over the last 15 years, Bruce has translated his personal deep dive into helping individuals and organizations. Together with his colleagues at BolsterUp, Bruce guides clients in improving employee experience, creating high-performing teams, and reducing stress and burnout while increasing well-being and joy. BolsterUp helps forward-thinking leaders make their organization the place everyone wants to work.

Bruce specializes in helping teams to work better together and managers to lead more effectively through better partnering, communication, and understanding. He coaches internationally, focusing on strengths-based development, professional capability-building, peak performance, resilience, and well-being. Corporate and individual clients attest to his ability to accelerate full-throttle success by driving individual engagement and team alignment.

Bruce’s corporate clients include Mayo Clinic, NYU Langone Health, University of Minnesota, University Hospitals, Be The Match, and others.

In addition to being a Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths coach, Bruce is a registered yoga and mindfulness teacher.


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