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Should your organization have a Chief Wellbeing Officer?

The different ‘chief’ roles in organizations is not something new, but when it comes to a Chief Wellbeing Officer – that is one buzz word that has gained popularity in recent years – and particularly accelerated as a result of recent global developments.

Now, is this just a trend or is this something your organization should seriously consider and implement, if you have not already? Well, it depends, but I will share with you some compelling data that might have you leaning more towards the idea…

If we learned anything from the pandemic is that we cannot continue to operate the way that we have been. Aside from this pandemic that we see and hear about all over the news, there is another one that has been brewing, yet not as much attention was paid to it – let’s call it the ‘silent pandemic’ – or burnout! Yes, employee burn out in organizations is real and has significantly gained traction globally in recent months. According to a recent Forbes article, burnout is defined in ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases made by the WHO) as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is the feeling of such extreme exhaustion and stress that simply crashes your whole-body system and often leads to serious health conditions, depression and sometimes even death.

Chief Wellbeing Officer

That is not the only thing we need to worry about when it comes to our employees’ mental health at work’. For example, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Deloitte, there is an average cost per year per employee of GBP 1,000 due to presenteeism, and it is a rate that is continuously increasing. Another report by Deloitte states that “only two in five” employees are working at peak performance” and presenteeism from mental ill health alone costs the UK economy over GBP 15 billion annually.

CIPD research shows that “presenteeism, where employees feel the need to work even when unwell, and leaveism, where employees use their holiday allowance to work, are becoming more widespread.” If organizations are not able to recognize leaveism or presenteeism in the workplace, they could be facing major negative impact including financial losses, employee stress and burnout, low engagement and morale, and increased mental health problems.

So, how can a Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO) solve some of these challenges? Well, by having a person dedicated particularly to ensure that these challenges are prevented and avoided at best – leaders need to first recognize that this is in fact a problem – mental health challenges are affecting your employees and therefore, directly affecting your business as well. Second, if you are going to have this CWO – ensure that this person has the right training, knowledge, and understanding of relevant science and research to implement initiatives that actually work (beyond yoga mats and meditation pods in the office). And, finally, someone who will transform or enhance the culture of your organization into one where people feel they are supported, accepted, motivated and continuously learning and growing.

Does it make financial sense? You have a starting point to make the maths: 1’000 GBP per employee per year due to presenteeism. Often, the activities that produce the highest wellbeing impact in an organization are not the most expensive – as they have as starting point: a culture change.

With the right approach and team – we can truly build organizations where everyone thrives!

Ready to make a change? Talk to us about how we can help you implement sustainable wellbeing initiatives in your organization.

Get in touch: Elena Agaragimova // Ivan Palomino


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