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How to build Bersin's healthy organisation and nurture a conscious culture

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Creating an efficient, healthy workforce from the bottom up is a challenge for HR at the best of times but by following Josh Bersin’s model we might just stand a chance, says Natasha Wallace.

4th Jan 2022
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Without a doubt, the pandemic has affected the way we work, and we’ll never go back to the way things were.

A recent study shows that 83 per cent of employers feel remote working has worked effectively, even if many believe that being away from the office all of the time impacts teamwork and collaboration. Some employers are now exploring an even more flexible way of working which is less about being hybrid and more about adapting ways of working to meet organisational and individual needs in a post-pandemic workplace. 

With mental health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda, leaders are having to learn how to be more empathetic and stay connected to their teams, no matter where they are

Burnout and a need for flexibility are driving talent loss

Recent data has shown that around 40 per cent of people globally, including in the UK, are looking to change jobs. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons for this.
The pandemic has led people to shift their priorities, making them decide they want more satisfaction and fulfilment from their job.

Many want a job that will allow them to focus on the other important things in life, including their families. If there’s one positive thing we can take from the pandemic, it’s that people have realised not to take life for granted. 

Employees want leaders who can relate to them

With mental health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda, leaders are having to learn how to be more empathetic and stay connected to their teams, no matter where they are. In fact, employers are focusing on psychological safety more than ever, creating environments where people can be honest, open and themselves, as they recognise how important this will be for the future of work.

‘Psychological safety’ is a term used to describe an area or place where employees feel they can speak up without fearing negative consequences. Amy Edmondson’s book The Fearless Organisation shows how feeling safe at work and performance are very closely linked. If organisations are to grow and sustain success, they will need to understand how to implement psychological safety - that means they’ll have to focus more on how they behave as organisations.

Consciously doing things ‘in a deliberate and intentional way’

In one of his Big Reset playbooks, Josh Bersin talks about human-centred leadership and how we have a unique opportunity right now to change the way we lead our organisations and move to a more human approach. It’s become a commercial imperative, not just because of the pandemic, but because of the pressing need to make the workplace a healthy and supportive place to be — not just somewhere you go to earn money. That is the only way we’ll achieve results and attract the best talent. 

Ultimately, it’s about building a healthy, ‘conscious’ culture within the workplace

As leaders focus more on mental wellbeing, work-life balance, and preventing burnout, it’s clear that organisational health is no longer just a benefit but is now a commercial priority. Leaders must now learn how to tackle organisational health to ensure that their teams are effective. This leads us to a recent and compelling read from Josh Bersin, which has come in the form of his Healthy Organisation Report.

This is based on research into what organisations are doing to support wellbeing, the report provides an interesting framework for building a healthy organisation. Josh makes the point that “as we look at the tight labour market, endless worries about the virus and travel, and all sorts of stress induced by economic growth, companies are moving ahead. And they’re evolving to a model we call ‘The Healthy Organisation.’

Interestingly, according to Bersin's research only 15 per cent of employers operate as ‘healthy organisations’, taking a strategic and holistic view of wellbeing and embedding it into the culture. However, it’s reassuring to see that 28 per cent are in the ‘healthy work’ category, where they are focused on removing work barriers, recognising performance, and creating opportunities for collaboration, growth, and equitable practice. 

Building a healthy ‘conscious’ culture 

Ultimately, it’s about building a healthy, ‘conscious’ culture within the workplace. It’s also about showing people they are recognised, valued, matter, and are supported, which makes them feel satisfied.

All of this requires leaders to be aware, aware and conscious of who they are and how they show up

In a world where burnout is seen as an occupational phenomenon and we expect more than ever from the people we employ, leaders (and managers) will have to take a more international approach to leading. This means:

  1. Creating a sense of togetherness through seeing and hearing people as individuals. 
  2. Creating a clear purpose to help everyone to focus on the work that matters most.
  3. Building resilience into the system, allowing people to adapt the way they work.
  4. Creating plenty of opportunities for growth and development and enabling people to evolve into the next generation of roles we’ll see in our organisations.

And all of this requires leaders to be aware, aware and conscious of who they are and how they show up. The next generation of leadership development will see leaders needing to learn more about how to care, be inclusive and operate in a way that sustains energy — their own and that of everyone else. 

What employers do next will be interesting to see but it’s clear that unless corporate strategy is developed in a more ‘conscious’ way, organisations will not only risk the retention of their workforce but will struggle to attract the best talent in the future. 

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