John Lionis: Going back to basics on wellbeing

There is no doubt that the concept of employee wellbeing has grown in popularity over the past few years. Many scholars and practitioners often emphasise a holistic approach, making the case for creating a ’wellbeing culture’.

However, there is an aspect of wellbeing that is often overlooked when discussing strategies, collecting key facts or coming up with specific interventions (see Health and wellbeing supplement, November 2013): the relationship employees have with their line managers.

This is perhaps the single most important aspect of employee wellbeing. A positive relationship, one based on trust, where the manager genuinely cares for the wellbeing of his or her team, both at work and at home (and shows this with actions, not words), is the cornerstone of creating a sustainable wellbeing culture. 

Without strong people relationships, any interventions, however expansive and strategically driven, will fail to make a big impact.

What use is a stress management programme when you have to face conflict and unworkable workloads on a daily basis? Or try to bring your absence figures down when employees leave because of their managers?

Great people skills are essential for an environment where employees feel good and their wellbeing becomes an important part of getting the job done.

So maybe the answer to a creating a successful wellbeing culture is simply just getting back to some old HR basics.

John Lionis is reward manager at Selfridge’s