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Performance Management:


Research is producing a growing body of evidence that improved well-being in the workplace is good for business.  Improving the well-being of a workforce helps create a work culture that boosts loyalty, increases productivity, improves morale and cooperation, and decreases absenteeism. Well-being is a key factor in performance management.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) was commissioned by the British Government to research the drivers of well-being.*  In this study, well-being is comprised of two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for well-being is one’s functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of well-being.

Five Actions for Wellbeing

The NEF’s review of the most up-to-date evidence suggests that building the following five actions into our day-to-day lives is important for well-being:

1. Connect  Connect with the people around you:  family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.  Think of these connections as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

2. Be Active  Go for a walk or run, cycle, dance, play games, garden etc.  Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

3. Take Notice  Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful, remark on the unusual, notice the changing seasons, savor the moment,  and whether you are walking to work, eating lunch, or talking to friends,  be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.  Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

4. Keep Learning  Try something new, rediscover an old interest, sign up for a course,  take on a different responsibility at work, fix a bike, learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favorite foods. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving.  Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.

5. Give  Do something nice for a friend, colleague, or a stranger:  thank someone, smile, volunteer your time, join a community group, etc.  Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself as  linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

The NEF study concludes that each action theme (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give) positively enhances personal well-being. The study suggests that following the advice of these interventions enhances personal well-being by making a person feel good and by bolstering his/her mental capital. The actions mainly influence well-being and mental capital by interacting at the level of “functioning.” They may not be sufficient to denote “good functioning” in its entirety but, according to the evidence base to date, they play an essential role in satisfying needs for positive relationships, autonomy, competency,  and security.

Workplace Exercise

With your team discuss the five actions for well-being listed above.  Then for each, brainstorm ways that each can be enhanced in the workplace.  Then select one brainstormed action for each of the five categories and devise an implementation plan to put them into practice for your team and/or your work environment.

*Five Ways to Well-Being, The New Economics Foundation, 3 Jonathan Street, London SE11 5NH; commissioned by the Foresight’s Mental Capital and Well-being Project.  NEF: www.neweconomics.org