Eudaimonia is a Greek word meaning “human flourishing’ – a contented state of being happy, healthy and prosperous. Now isn’t this where we all want to be?
To me, being human is the greatest gift because we are able to do so much, create so much, feel so much. We can experience friendship, love, kindness, concern, compassion, support and joy. Then, on our darker days, feel self-doubt, pain, fear, despair, hatred and sadness. Our capabilities are so vast.
We are so beautifully and intricately made. In traditional Japanese aesthetics wabi-sabi (and no that’s not wasabi!), wabi-sabi means the “discovery of beauty in imperfection, the acceptance of both life and death.” It is a beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Is this not what it is to be human?
However, people often experience the very real problem of not being treated “as human” at work.
I’d like us to consider three major problem areas the media has been highlighting recently when it comes to assessing employee wellbeing in the workplace. Then I’d like to offer some food for thought by proposing solutions that you could start to implement now into your workplace.
1. Fear of Artificial Intelligence making us redundant: Artificial Intelligence could rather be viewed as providing opportunities to explore as yet untapped areas of human potential. Why not let the “machines” perform all the mundane, repetitive, boring tasks? We as humans can continue delving deeper into our very unique and beautiful consciousness, unlocking greater levels of human potential and knowledge. We can uncover and bring to the surface ever new, ever higher, ways of thinking, interacting, working and living.
Can we not already start shifting the conversation from “machines vs people” to rather being one of “how machines better support us in achieving our full potential?”
2. Insufficient Employee Benefits: What do employee benefits programmes historically include? Most frequently it’s been: medical aid contributions, paid leave, paid sick days, pension fund contributions and performance bonuses.
Specifically, many employees are unable to afford their high medical aid and health care costs. They consistently request increased cover and additional lifestyle benefits at no extra cost.
If organisations are to truly treat employees as human beings with valid needs and not just “human doings”, they need to take these requests seriously. Benefits mean a lot to the “human bottom line.” They also impact population demographics (such as life expectancy, fertility rate, GNI per capita, population growth rate and the unemployment rate).
Don’t you think that extended paid parental leave, assistance with paying off student loans, fully paid medical aid cover and in-house holistic therapies (such as weekly meditation and yoga classes) are some of the key benefits that would enhance employee’s day-to-day lives? This in turn would positively impact our population demographics.
3. Stress levels are way too high: Numerous studies reflect a large number of people suffer from illnesses caused or made worse by their working environments. Stress in particular has one of the most adverse impacts on employee’s mental wellbeing. It is the result of:
· Heavy workload demands
· Lack of job security
· Poor work relationships; and
· No work-life balance.
Here is where HR functions could be “revamped” to put the sustainable wellbeing of employees first, before any other organizational goals. Bring wellbeing into performance achievement goals and introduce coaching programmes facilitating healthy lifestyle changes. Get rid of the outdated stigma around mental illness.
These three somewhat simple solutions could go a very long way to ensuring people feel they are valuable to their employers, giving them a deep sense of purpose and commitment.
You could be the catalyst, transforming your teams today by really looking after their wellbeing through making some of these changes.