Louise Zacest: 24 January 2022

It’s that time of year when business leaders plan for the year ahead.

Setting personal work goals, commercial targets and plotting a strong pathway for growth as we emerge from the pandemic.

But in the current period of low unemployment and migration, strategies to attract and retain staff are vital for a business to achieve great results.

Health and wellbeing of employees has also come to the fore.

In fact, the Harvard Business Review suggests “Wellness will become the newest metric that companies use to understand their employees in 2022.”

Harvard Business Review also notes that for years, managers have used all sorts of metrics, such as employee satisfaction or engagement, to understand how staff are feeling.

Now, in 2022, forward-looking organisations will add measures that assess employees’ mental, physical, social, and financial health.

While data is not readily available for New Zealand, a recent survey out of the United States found that:

  • 94% of companies surveyed made significant investments in their wellbeing programs;
  • 85% increased support for mental health benefits;
  • 50% increased support for physical wellbeing;
  • 38% increased support for financial wellbeing.

Analysis also suggested that employees who utilised these supports reported 23% higher levels of mental health, 17% higher levels of physical health, and were 23% more likely to say they slept well at night. All translating to higher levels of performance and loyalty to the company, and better organisational wellbeing.

Organisational wellbeing describes those things that promote a healthy workplace culture and work-life balance. The factors usually associated with workplace wellbeing include individual alignment to the organisation's vision, values and purpose, job security, a culture of trust and autonomy, strategic and authentic leadership, a demonstrated commitment to looking out for each other, a pleasant and positive working environment, focus on health and safety, proactive and compassionate management, fairness and equality and good opportunities for growth, support, mentoring and supervision.

Personal wellbeing can be described as the subjective state of being healthy, happy, content, comfortable and satisfied with one's quality of life. Is it more than the absence of symptoms of illness, feeling good and functioning well. It also includes developing our potential, working productively and creatively, building strong and positive relationships with others, and contributing to our whānau, friends, and community.

Thinking of the year ahead, I’ve identified five personal leadership goals for 2022 that I’ll be using to track my performance, as I seek to support individual employee and organisational wellbeing.

Look to the future

Keeping a long-term view to steer our businesses beyond the current uncertainties is critical. As a leader I will keep focussed on our vision for the future, communicate clearly to staff, so that everyone knows what’s ahead and can focus their capabilities on helping drive the business to where it needs to go.

Show genuine care and flexibility

Care is one of our core values. Now more than ever I will take time to listen and understand how the uncertainty the pandemic brings is impacting our people in different ways. Plus we will review policies and practices to ensure that we can be more flexible to different needs.

Invest in wellbeing

To keep our team and leaders balanced, we will invest this year in practical activities that support individual and workplace health, safety and wellbeing.

Maintain connections

We learn through others. I will strengthen our relationships with our business partners and health providers to encourage sharing of experiences and to identify shared opportunities to drive innovative service development and delivery. In addition, we will continue to recognise the importance of family and community, not just work, so our people feel we understand that their job is only one part of their lives and that other aspects need time and energy too.

Have fun

Richard Branson has some advice I think is also important to remember. “Have fun, work hard and money will come. Don’t waste time, grab your chances. Have a positive outlook on life. When it’s not fun, move on.” Because when people enjoy coming to work, feel healthy, appreciated and are physically and emotionally at their best, they’ll give their best.

So, all the best for the year ahead.

Ngā mihi nui,

Louise Zacest,

Chief Executive,