Meditation, breathing exercises and yoga classes: three things you would expect people to do after work, rather than at the office. But at the Huffington Post, where workplace wellness is a top priority, they are now a regular fixture. In this interview with Future of Business and Tech, Arianna Huffington discusses the company’s attitude towards employee well-being. From office hammocks to standing desks and fridges filled with fresh fruit, the organization takes employee wellness seriously – and rightly so.
Whose Idea Was This?
The Huffington Post isn’t just forward-thinking in its approach to workplace wellness, but in its attitude towards the inception of new initiatives. “We’re always open to new ideas,” notes Huffington, “especially taking suggestions from employees, who often come up with the best ideas”. How many other companies can claim to embrace this philosophy? From driving healthier work practices to developing new products and planning company events, placing individuals at the heart of the conception and decision-making process is the sign of a company that values its people, and that recognizes their importance to the development of the organization.
This sentiment is echoed by Ed Frauenheim and Kim Peters who, writing for Fortune, state that leading companies “put real work into sustaining environments where people can count on candor, respect and the esprit de corps necessary for the open, fruitful exchange of ideas.” Of course, an integral aspect of this is recognition; thanking employees for their input. Writing for Great Place to Work, Jessica Rohman asserts that “at great workplaces large and small, a consistent thread is a culture of appreciation”.
Tracking Behavior and Changing Workplace Habits
Huffington points out that employees shouldn’t just be involved in the initiation of new projects; they should have an insight into the benefits and repercussions: “programs, whatever they may be, are far more likely to be effective when companies give employees tools to track their behaviors and actually change their habits, rather than just providing information and feedback.” This is as true of the health drives taking shape at the Huffington Post as it is of the social selling programs transforming B2B companies, and the teleworking policies turning traditional notions of the working day on their head.
The Impact of Workplace Well-Being on Organizational Performance
David Ballard, Psy.D., director of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, is in no doubt about the impact of workplace wellness on employee engagement and productivity. Quoted in the article For Wellness Success, Emotional Health in the Workplace Must Be Addressed, he says, “Forward-thinking employers are taking steps to create a positive work environment where employees can thrive. In turn, employees are more engaged and committed to the organization’s success. This shared responsibility for creating a psychologically healthy workplace promotes an organizational culture that values well-being and performance, and delivers results for employees and the organization alike.”
At ExterionMedia, such a culture is prospering. By launching a content aggregation, creation and collaboration platform on which employees themselves are the main players, the company has traded a top-down culture for one of innovation and collaboration, multiplying the amount of content shared internally by five in just a matter of months. It is the type of initiative that places employees at the heart of internal communication, and that will only gain traction in the months and years to come.