From feelings to hard data. Is the theme of workplace well-being just a myth, or can it be measured?
“A feeling, a smile, a joke between two colleagues and pleasure from being at work…”
The first of the panel discussions at this year’s TechoCon commenced with all four speakers giving their own definition of the term Well-Being.
The excellently prepared moderator Daniela Písařovicová requested each of the speakers to give a brief definition of what for them is Well-Being. “For a long time now it is not a fruit bowl with oranges and bananas, and a ping-pong table in the corridor,” stated David Mansfeld of Johnson & Johnson. These are also important in a modern office environment, but much more important, according to him, is the overall environment and the planned care of people and the environment in which they work.
In the second part of the panel discussion David then described the specific experience of the company he works for with respect to office space and its occupation: “If you have 1200 people and 1200 chairs for them then everyone will know where to sit, but at the same time a number of people will be off sick, on holiday, visiting customers, on business trips or working from home… Studies show that the actual number of people sitting in an office varies between ⅔ and ¾ of the total number of employees. In our case somewhere around 900 workstations,” he added.
Experienced facility manager Hana Webb then further developed on this idea: “When arranging interiors, companies are not using a copy-paste method, but they really think about how interaction between employees will take place. Often it is in the kitchenettes where people have a coffee or a bite to eat.” Phycologist Ivo Hrdina then mentioned the example of Google, a firm that goes into depth in providing for the needs of its employees. It has identified “psychological safety” as the factor with the greatest influence on Well-Being in the workplace. “That is, I’m not afraid to go to work, I have no fear of meetings, that someone would ironically reject my input or sweep it from the table. Psychological safety, among other things, also represents one’s own work and the feeling that it has some meaning,” stated Ivo.
Petr Skondrojanis then stated that companies that systematically devote attention to employees are generally the most successful and their shares increase in value. “It has been shown that there is a direct relationship between care for employees and company performance. International companies like, for example, Microsoft and Google, are leaders in this field, and their share prices enjoy stable growth,” said Petr.
In the discussion Petr gave the example of a company that after three years’ employment gives its employees “tenure”. This of course gives a feeling of security and sense of belonging in the company, as per the “psychological safety” concept discussed by Ivo Hrdina.
Psychologist Carol Dweck defines two types of thought that create two different lives: fixed vs. growth mindset*. Research has shown that we have a tendency to fall in with one of two types of thought. The first can lead to depression and failure, whilst the second leads to satisfaction and much better results. Studies show that the way our lives pan out is primarily down to the way we think. If we change our mindset from “fixed” to “growth” we change our lives for the better. All four speakers came to the conclusion – each from their own professional perspective and experience – that Well-Being is not a measurable quantity, but that the factors that give rise to it are measurable and can be influenced, whether this is psychological safety or the opportunity to work from home.
The “home-office” theme was discussed in the second part of the panel discussion: each of the panellists had a different idea of the scope of “home-office”. There are professions that can be practiced remotely. For David Mansfeld the limit for home office to produce mutual benefits is one day a week. On the other hand, Ivo Hrdina – whilst not doubting the benefit of – raised one important thought: “Home office does not support a community.“ Practically oriented Petr Skondrojanis added that under the applicable Czech Labour Code it is not a legal way of arranging work.
This excellent discussion was concluded by David Mansfeld with the thought that Well-Being is today a basic requirement for sustainable human resources in any business.
* Carol Dweck: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books, 2007, ISBN: 978-0345472328.