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Promoting Psychological Wellbeing at Work: Salutogenic and Complex Approaches

In our revolutionary journey to build a culture of well-being we are not alone. Trainect's well-being ambassadors, people passionate about the topic, actively accompany us in spreading the key concepts to create sustainable working environments.

In this article, Claudia Della Torre, Psychologist and Consultant on work well-being, explores the concept of psychological well-being in the work context, emphasizing the importance of a salutogenic approach that goes beyond the mere absence of diseases. It highlights the need to consider both individual and organizational dynamics in building a healthy work environment, promoting personal fulfillment and social integration.

Definition of Wellbeing according to WHO

The World Health Organization cites it by defining health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not consisting merely in the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO, Constitution, 22 July 1946).

The Ottawa Charter states that “To achieve a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, an individual or group must be able to identify and realize their aspirations, to satisfy their needs, to change their surroundings or to cope with it” (1st International Conference on Health Promotion, 1986).

The community definitions highlight that:

  • health is not just about the absence of disease;

  • well-being does not only include physical well-being but also aspects of personal fulfillment and social integration.

In a systemic approach, the words of Sergio Boria, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, are full of implications: “It is about expressing (in whole or in part) one's radical uniqueness/diversity albeit in a binding dynamic of interconnection and systemic co-evolution. It is about making it possible to activate a path of co-implication between the Self and the Community, between the possibility of being authentic and belonging to one or more life contexts, actively elaborating what are the organizational constraints of the time different based on the type of context, and which channel and orient the actions of the participants within a more or less limited range of possibilities" (Sergio Boria, The complexity of health and the health of complexity - Journal "Ecologia della health”, October 2022).

A salutogenic and complex vision

The path we are outlining invites us to move from a pathogenic perspective, which is concerned with talking about health only when it is lacking, to a salutogenic vision, in which it is relevant to deal with what makes us "feel good".

In the changing world in which we find ourselves, this "being" has nothing to do with a stable and achievable condition once and for all. It's more about re-STAYING in a process of continuous change, finding/building/training useful resources.

Furthermore, this movement is never just individual since it is connected - as in a spider's web - to the movements of other people who act as a function of emotions and thoughts, in relation to the rules of the context (imagined or explicit) and to the social narratives that each of we contribute to maintaining or modifying with our own actions.

In work contexts, all this translates into the need to become aware of the mental patterns with which we describe our professional identity and constantly ask ourselves:

  • What impact do they have on our way of acting and on our relationships with colleagues?

  • How can we change them to promote a context of well-being for all?

It is not, therefore, a question of cure no one but to take care of the "common home" which is the organizational ecosystem in which we move.

What can each of us do towards wellbeing?

The first step is in understanding that our well-being depends on the ability to read situations as they develop, modifying the questions we ask ourselves . For example, asking ourselves “Why is this happening?” it places us in a condition of reflection but hardly makes us take action, because once the potential 'causes' have been identified it will be easy to find someone responsible outside of us, maintaining the status quo. We can, instead, ask ourselves “How am I interpreting my working world and what am I doing to keep the situation as it is? Am I leaving out variables that are important to me? What can I do differently and what future possibilities do they open up?”.

We must also consider the social influence on the way we think and act, whereby we often implicitly adhere to shared, collectively endorsed cognitive processes, without asking ourselves what implications they have for us and others.

For example, the narrative of a career as a vertical climb may not correspond to our needs and, in this case, it is useful to ask ourselves what our personal idea of success is, what priorities we have in a particular moment of life and what paths open up for us . Or, implicitly adhering to the idea of work effectiveness as continuous industriousness within a culture of performance can lead us to chase the result without paying attention to the path we are taking, ignoring possible signs of stress.

In this regard, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has highlighted that half of absences from work are linked to stress, but only 1/3 of the cost of stress is due to absences. Stress-related performance deterioration costs twice as much as absence.

In other words, we feel stressed but "get by" and this has very high costs both at an individual and business level.

And at a company level?

We can embrace an interdependent vision of the organization, in which rather than "putting people at the center", we place the relationship (between people, and between the individual and the organization) as central, committing ourselves to:

  • analyze the specific visions of well-being in place in our context, through surveys, focus groups, digital media

Discover Trainect's holistic approach and the 5 areas of well-being in the article "Holistic well-being: the 5 areas of Corporate Wellbeing according to Trainect" .

  • give space to co-construction practices (e.g. internal laboratories, horizontal career management), in which everyone can offer their own contribution, also by virtue of personal interests and needs as long as these are consistent with the desired evolution of the whole system;

  • update training programs and possibly include other support services (e.g. coaching, counseling, well-being APPs, etc.) with particular attention to all those skills that help workers to deal with the changing context, to embrace a situational vision of events and to manage relationships with confidence in one's own abilities and in the possibility of receiving support from colleagues when necessary.

It is essential in this scenario to know how to carry out a Corporate Wellbeing program effectively.

Do you want to know how to implement an Effective Corporate Wellbeing Program? Book a free call with our Wellbeing Designers who will help you understand the best solutions for your organization.

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