Guest blog: Creating a cause-based culture to improve wellbeing, engagement, and organisational performance

Guest blog by Deborah Cooper and Derek Wynne, Partners of Miles Advisory

Derek Wynne and Deborah Cooper, Miles AdvisoryCovid had unprecedented impact on the world of work. Post-pandemic, employee-centric focus on wellbeing is prioritised in a candidate driven market and with research reporting 59% of employees would consider a company with improved wellbeing benefits.

With early data indicating no change or uptick in productivity during the home-working phase of the pandemic, flexible work practices became a lynchpin in post-covid wellbeing strategies, with the introduction of hybrid, remote and location agonistic policies becoming a top three promise in the global Employee Value Propositions in 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

In 2023 however, the war for talent is easing and the data is shifting, with research from The Economist suggesting that employees are up to 19% less productive working from home, and over 70% of organisations worldwide planning to mandate a return to the office. 

And wellbeing remains poor. In the UK, the government believes that poor mental health is costing employers between £33bn and £42bn a year, and the UK economy as much as £99bn per year. So the potential shift away from flexible working as a panacea could be an opportunity to identify other effective wellbeing solutions as recognition grows that hybrid working can lead to a declining sense of belonging and purpose. 

The link between engagement and performance outcomes – e.g. retention, productivity, safety, is well documented. Low engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion - 11% of GDP globally. Presenteeism - employees not fully functioning in the workplace - costs US employers $150 billion a year in lost productivity. Boredom was cited as a main contributor in 2021/22’s ‘Great Resignation’. 
So, could ‘Purpose’ be the enabler in the hybrid world of work? If leaders can move the dial from people needing to work, to creating an environment where people want to work, they could create an employee experience to attract and energise the brightest and best. 

Purpose driven organisations such as building societies have the competitive advantage - connecting everyone to a meaningful purpose providing the opportunity to do something that matters. Leaders can create a powerful employee value proposition that sets out what they can expect in return for their efforts. Few other sectors are in the same position when it comes to using purpose to paint a picture of how it will feel to be part of a cause and re-ignite a sense of belonging and togetherness. The example set in the ‘tone from the top’ is critical to signpost and trigger wider organisational behaviour. 

It is important to create a shared vision of the beliefs and attitudes and to support this with a clear benchmark of the expectations for their associated behaviours. By defining observable actions, leaders can hold each other to account; help employees understand the aspired culture; reduce misinterpretation of what good looks like in the way people work together and align ways of working with operating priorities. 

Building societies are well placed to optimise this opportunity. The burning platform for change is only trumped by the opportunity that exists to build a compelling “cause-based” culture. The effective delivery of this will improve wellbeing, build engagement, and drive high performance. Regardless of whether the employee is at home at work, or at work at home. 

Find out more: Contact Deborah Cooper, Partner, Deborah.cooper@miles-advisory.com 07464 675444

This article was first published in Society Matters magazine