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Guest Article - Leading a Culture of Well-Being

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

The underlying link between strategy and success

As we peeled back the layers of our work on well-being for The Healthy Workplace Nudge book, we found a distinct difference between companies that were effective in implementing well-being initiatives and those that were not. In order to be successful from a well-being standpoint, it was critical to align organizational culture to support well-being in the overall corporate strategy.

One great example of how to utilize culture as a leadership tool is from Next Jump. An e-commerce marketplace designed to help employees access all the benefits their companies offer, Next Jump created a culture they refer to as “deliberately developmental” by supporting behaviors that focus on personal and team growth—meaning they are not mutually exclusive but must thrive together in harmony. In fact, Next Jump got really good at this—to the point that they now show other organizations how to move in this direction.

The most interesting thing about Next Jump creating a culture that they felt was imperative to their success? They had to undo what they had already created. They focused on hiring people who reflected humility and confidence (confident enough to learn from failure). This was a vast departure from their previous cadre of what they refer to as “brilliant jerks,” who put their own interests before the team or organization. Doing a 180—admitting their failure—and course-correcting the organization meant implementing tough decisions.

How Leaders Influence Healthy Culture to Achieve Strategic Goals In the July/August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, there is a great series on CEOs and how they manage their work and time. One part specific to using "broad integrating mechanisms" is key:


"To foster appropriate decisions across the company, the organization's structure needs to be aligned with its strategy." It goes on to say, "Culture—which encompasses an organization's values, beliefs, and norms—is another key CEO lever for reinforcing strategy and influencing how the organization as a whole goes about doing its work."


It’s possible to design a healthy corporate culture, versus allowing an unhealthy culture to exist by default. Understanding current culture and potential subculture, or “shadow culture,” is imperative to assess what changes need to be made to affect fundamental business success.

To make well-being initiatives work, they must be a strategic priority for the organization. The connection with return on human capital is clear, but leaders are often constrained by time, and well-being is often lost in the shuffle of priorities. If the culture lever is used as a strategic tool to develop the right environment for well-being to become part of organizational DNA, then we can start designing space and processes to support a high-performing workforce.

Take a look at what you can do to make your space become an environment for well-being in "Harness the Power of a Workspace Nudge."


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