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My 5 Workplace Wellbeing A-ha Moments

BY Michelle McQuaid

Is it just me, or when you read, listen, and consume new information about how to care for wellbeing in the workplace do you find ‘a-ha!’ moments everywhere you look?  With the science of wellbeing maturing over the last 25 years, there’s been some enormous advances in our knowledge on how we can help people to better understand, care for and share their wellbeing in workplaces.

Back in 2016, I started the Making Positive Psychology Work Podcast as a way to stay up to date with the latest research.  Fast forward 250 episodes later and here are my most important a-ha moments from the world’s leading wellbeing researchers and practitioners who have joined us:

  • Having a shared wellbeing language – Professor Lindsey Oades research helped us understand that the impact of a wellbeing strategy is significantly influenced by people’s levels of wellbeing literacy. Having a shared language about caring for wellbeing enables your workplace to have conversations that can positively impact people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions about their wellbeing.
  • Making caring for wellbeing your goal – Dr. Robert Biswas Diener taught us that it is healthy for our levels of wellbeing to ebb and flow as we navigate our work and lives. And while we tend to associate feelings of thriving with being well, it’s important to remember that feelings of struggle provide us with opportunities for learning and growth that can make us more resilient.  Rather than continuously trying to improve wellbeing, we discovered that the smarter goal is learning how to intelligently and actively care for our wellbeing.
  • Building a shared toolbox of evidence-based practices – Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky explained that there is no one magic wellbeing strategy that will help every person in your workplace to be well.  Instead, people need the freedom to playfully experiment and activate the wellbeing behaviors that align with their interests, values, resources, and desired outcomes.  For example, one team may be more likely to stick with a wellbeing behavior that connects them with other people, while another team may benefit more from a wellbeing behavior that provides them with space for quiet daily reflection.  Let teams build on what works best for them.
  • Taking a systems lens – Dr. Aaron Jarden showed us that caring for wellbeing is not a solo endeavor. This is because our wellbeing perceptions, experiences and behaviors are diverse and spread through an interconnected web of social connections at the Me (individuals), We (teams), and Us (workplaces) level.  How can you identify and put in place the tools, routines, rituals, policies, processes, strategies, and role modeling from leaders to amplify your people’s ability, motivation, and psychological safety to care for wellbeing across your workplace?
  • Measuring and adjusting – Professor Marty Seligman pointed out that when leaders have the data to understand that their teams wellbeing levels are lower than other team’s in their workplace they will find all sorts of ways we never consider as researchers or practitioners to better care for wellbeing. Not only that but having good quality, meaningful, timely data gives your workplace insights to make more intelligent decisions and effective wellbeing investments.  This doesn’t mean your wellbeing scores always need to go up, but you do need ways to easily and regularly gauge the impact of your efforts so you can keep learning and adjusting as needed.

What insights are shaping your workplace wellbeing strategy?

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