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HR Has Wasted Millions on the Symptoms

The latest research from from Oxford University stirred the world of Organisational Psychology and Wellbeing and they did not sugarcoat the nonsensical approach of the business world. If you don't like reading research papers ( I love them!!) here is the summary of it. 


So, they've finally backed up what I've been saying for a whole year! I reached this conclusion because employees have been saying the same thing for ages. Lesson No1: listen to your employees – they're the ones creating content for Oxford University and other work studies. You don't have to wait for some summary to know what your employees are saying. If you do, it's either because you're not listening, don't care, or don't believe them. Which one is it?


The study conducted on 46.000 employees is the largest of its kind and concluded:

"Organisations have to change the workplace and not the workers." 

HR, can we drop the whole "fixing people with organic apples, yoga, gym memberships, or meditation app subscriptions" thing? Your system seems a bit broken not the people, and these fixes aren't cutting it. 


Side note: isn't it astonishing how much money these incompetent folks have squandered on nonsense? Like did they seriously think that yoga or staff activities are going to compensate for a toxic environment? Shouldn't this be considered a misuse of company resources, warranting some dismissals perhaps? Just curious... 😉 And here's HR, scratching their heads, wondering why they have zero credibility. I wouldn't be shocked if someone gets the boot over this research. This should definitely find a spot in their annual appraisal: "Failed to track the success of planned interventions, resulting in a million-dollar waste. Additionally, fell short of showcasing the necessary competence for the role and didn't meet the criteria for the 'Developing Self' competency."


Back to the findings (got a little excited there doing HRs appraisal:-))


They concluded that these interventions (Individual-led interventions) had no impact on employees' wellbeing:

- Mindfulness session/program

- Resilience workshops/program

- Stress management programs i.e. yoga classes, applications


What helps though is organisational changes (interventions that starts with the organisation):

- Clarity around one's role

- Healthy relationships and leadership

- Flexibility at work (hours, jobs)

- Job security

- Appropriate level of manning

- 4 day work week


When I shared this with my colleague, he said, "They're choosing the easy way out." At first, I agreed but later argued that they've actually chosen the tougher path. It's simpler to fix policies, procedures, practices, or systems than it is to fix people. In my view, failure here is great news, and organisations, as well as HR, should be happy as Larry. They can dismiss their construction crew that was put together to fix people and get down to the easier task of identifying areas that are causing challenges to their employees and addressing those.


I've never had a more solid confirmation of the value of my work in Employee Experience Design. This study clearly demonstrates that designing organisations with employees' experiences in mind is the way to go. It's no walk in the park given how severely broken many organisations are, but it's the right move, far better than squandering company resources with little to show for it. And the results are evident: high turnover, dissatisfaction, and employers complaining that nobody wants to work. Do you now believe me when I tell you to listen to your people???? 


PS: I would correct the researchers with this: It is not that wellbeing initiatives don't work but rather that people don't understand what employee wellbeing looks like therefore, end up implementing interventions that have nothing to do with it. Employee wellbeing when done correctly, addresses the exact areas the research has highlighted. 





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