What is the role of EWP in organisational culture? | EAPA-SA

Organisational culture is defined as a set of shared values and beliefs, which interact with an organisation’s people, structure and systems to produce behavioural norms.  Hallmarks of organisational culture include: 1

  • Innovation (Risk orientation)
  • Attention to detail (Precision orientation)
  • Emphasis on outcomes (Achievement orientation)
  • Emphasis on people (Employee orientation)
  • Teamwork (Collaboration orientation)
  • Assertiveness (Competitive orientation)
  • Stability (Rule orientation)

In a strong organisational culture the organisation’s core values are both thoroughly adhered to and widely shared. A healthy organisational culture is essential to employee wellbeing.  How can employee wellbeing programmes play a role in the health of organisational culture?

Health and wellbeing initiatives thrive in an organisation that communicates

To influence organisational culture, employee wellbeing programmes require buy-in and effort from the top down; from the executive suite down to employees at the lowest level – where top level management commit to health and wellbeing and model these values, and everyone, at every level, has a role to play.

“many leaders overlook their organisation’s cultural dimension when introducing a wellbeing programme​.”

One of the first things an organisation can do when embarking on enhancing organisational culture, is to make sure that health and wellbeing are part of their corporate values – and that these values are clearly defined and expressed across the entire organisation.  In what is a common drawback, many leaders overlook their organisation’s cultural dimension when introducing a wellbeing programme. As a result their organisational environment may not support the programme’s success.  To implement a successful employee wellbeing strategy, the components of the employee wellbeing programme must be in alignment with each organisation’s unique culture. Company values, leadership priorities, management behaviour, and policies and procedures all reinforce the rollout of a wellbeing strategy in different ways.

Employee wellbeing programmes (EWNs) are aimed at informing, educating and supporting employees to enable them to take responsibility for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. In doing so, employee wellbeing programmes foster a positive organisational culture- one in which employees are fully present and productive.  They offer an organisation the opportunity to invest in something that is highly valued by employees and that positively impact on a whole range of business imperatives, such as illness, absenteeism, presenteeism, morale, employee productivity and talent retention.

“Successful employee wellbeing programmes promote a healthy and productive work environment.” 

The cycle can be a positive one.  Successful employee wellbeing programmes promote a healthy and productive work environment, which leads to the organisation achieving their goals and objectives through a workforce that is fully engaged and motivated.  Motivated and engaged employees then play a role in enhancing a positive organisational culture – and so on.

When an organisation has a wellbeing strategy that is rooted in a positive organisational culture, one can expect to see a rewarding outcome, because the strategy will have been perceived by employees as authentic, and will be appreciated as being congruent with the organisation’s culture as experienced on the ground, on a day-to-day basis. Employee wellbeing strategies have the potential to bring huge benefits to employees and employers, alike, but they need to be introduced in the right way, at the right time and for the right reasons.  Comprehensive preparation is needed before the strategy is launched to ensure that all relevant parties understand that they have a role to play. This role includes business leaders giving the programme their support and promoting it within the organisation, as well as line managers who must understand the strategy and encourage its adoption by their teams, and all levels of employee who need to accept responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, especially as they will benefit from employee wellbeing initiatives, both at work and in their personal lives. 2 + 3

Employee wellbeing continues to gain ground in the corporate agenda.  This is a measure of a growing acceptance and more organisations are approaching it in a holistic and strategic way. The time is right for the wellness industry to make a strong, actionable business case that wellbeing, as one of organisations’ core values, is a differentiating contributor in achieving standout success.

“Employee wellbeing continues to gain ground in the corporate agenda.” 

​Having a corporate culture and wellness programmes that are integrated allows participants to have an edge in the marketplace. Mutual benefits of wellness programmes include some of the following:

  • An organisation’s conscious pursuit of employee wellbeing serves to attract top talent in a competitive marketplace and so creates a competitive advantage. ‍
  • They impact employee behaviour. Happy and productive employees are often more innovative contributors to company growth and profitability.
  • When members of an organisation identify with the corporate culture, the work environment is often more enjoyable, which boosts employee morale.‍
  • Using company culture to develop a non-threatening platform like health and wellness to allow collaboration on all levels within the corporate structure has the potential to reduce conflict and build goodwill towards management.
  • EWPs reduce healthcare expenses. Companies that integrate education and prevention into its wellness programs and corporate culture often see a reduction in healthcare expenses. 4