SHINE Executive Director Eileen McNeely will be keynoting the Art & Science of Health Promotion conference April 2022.
Pivoting from Mitigating Risk to Optimizing Flourishing:
Why Business Must Think Differently About Health, Equity, Resilience and the Future of Work
For decades, the question about thriving at work, from the employer’s perspective, was mostly about risk mitigation: how to keep workers healthy and safe and limit turnover. The guardrails for risk mitigation were simple; they focused on occupational health and safety regulations to keep injuries in check and on offering programs and perks to attract and retain talent. However, the COVID pandemic and ensuing stress and burnout has laid bare how ineffective these employer benefits were in addressing the innate needs of workers to thrive in their work, thrive in their life, and thrive together as a community.
The old paradigm of risk mitigation and focus on individual health through plug and play programs no longer works. Organizations must pivot to focusing on complete well-being and the conditions at work that enable thriving, from viewing work as potential risk to work as a platform for quality of life, from promoting individual interventions to considering the organization as the touchpoint of change. Decades of research show that ‘good’ jobs foster learning and mastery, self-efficacy and autonomy, meaning, purpose and satisfaction, a sense of belonging and inclusion, social support and financial security. These human needs are nurtured in workplaces that demonstrate respect for fairness and equity, psychological safety and trust, recognition, caring and empathy for individuals and the community beyond.
Many studies, including McNeely’s own research at the Sustainability and Health Initiative for Netpositive Enterprise (SHINE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, demonstrate how considering a new role for organizational caring and establishing a culture of trust, belonging and inclusion is fundamental to employee well-being and to supporting successful business outcomes.