To celebrate my 2000th blogpost, I asked Twitter what I should write about. This series of posts are inspired by those requests.
A reader suggested this one.
The wellbeing industry is a reaction to, from where I see it, the second coming of Taylorism that has haunted the corridors of offices across the planet in the past three decades. Mostly this is as a result of IT.
IT, information technology, is really, really good at measuring stuff. When you can measure stuff you can start to believe that you can control it. When you can control people, control freaks are going to freak. And that’s all great unless the things that you are measuring aren’t what you thought they were and then it all becomes a little bit counter-productive.
Pile pressure onto worker with constant assessment and measurement and you risk them burning out. Life becomes miserable. The incidents of long-term sick leave and mental health issues rise. Those cost employers money, in sick pay and settlements that they can measure, and dropped productivity that they usually can’t. Ironically the measurements are often introduced to increase productivity.
And so wellbeing programmes are introduced. And because it’s the digital age we use technology to introduce them. And because they are basically IT systems there are lots of things to measure and because of that we measure them. And report on them. And “gamify” them. Piling yet more pressure onto already pressurised people.
ARE YOU WELLBEING UP YOUR BEST WELL BEING THIS WEEK?!?!?!
Thing is, wellbeing is an outcome, not an input. If 93% of workers in well-performing companies show they are taking good care of themselves, that’s possibly because they work in a well-performing companies, not because of the companies managing their wellbeing.
Want your people to have wellbeing? Give them work that is engaging. Give them work that gives them autonomy, meaning and purpose. And stop measuring how many minutes of wellbeing they’ve done this week.