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The strategic role of HR for corporate wellbeing: interview with Matteo Sola

Employee well-being has become an increasingly important consideration for companies seeking to improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and increase worker engagement.

The HR function can use several strategies to promote employee well-being, such as introducing flexible working policies, promoting a healthy lifestyle and creating an inclusive work environment.

HR plays a crucial role in managing the company's human resources. Its role is increasingly strategic to enable real change that has an impact on people's daily lives.

In this interview we had the pleasure of speaking with Matteo Sola, Advisor of Trainect and HR Learning, Development & Engagement Manager of Iliad to delve deeper into the strategic role of HR in the world of corporate well-being.

Why is the HR role strategic for promoting corporate wellbeing in organizations?

The simplest answer might be: if we don't take care of it, who will? If the corporate function which should naturally be focused on the well-being (even happiness according to some) does not take care of the "human resources" asset, i.e. people, who should do it?

In reality, if on the one hand this seems obvious, on the other we must remember that this propensity of HR to "elevate" itself compared to purely administrative and management tasks is actually a historically recent thing, so it is no coincidence that we are equipping ourselves with the skills to do so only in contemporary times.

Furthermore, we could add that 360° employee caring should be a shared objective between HR and management, but many companies are currently not culturally ready to conceive this objective and are instead poorly aware of its potential consequences for the business, consequently this it tends not to be a shared priority.

Hence, HR is right to promote itself, first of all in terms of changing culture , and then moving on to coherent policies, practices and processes of the Wellbeing revolution. A revolution that can bring significant consequences for employer branding, attraction, engagement and retention of people, the climate and productivity themselves, to give a few examples, all increasingly strategic themes, even more so within the ESG increasingly central to debates within and outside the company.

What are the elements to consider when designing a corporate wellbeing strategy?

Potentially many, perhaps too many, in the sense that the risk of project dispersion is very high. If there is no study and an organic strategy in place, we find ourselves with a fragmented panorama of initiatives that are perhaps individually very interesting but little understood and not capable of bringing a real overall impact.

To try to orient ourselves, but also to understand what our specific needs may be, a good starting point that can inspire us is the trend of positive psychology and the "PERMAV" framework, which originates from Martin Seligman and is made up of six fundamental dimensions:

  • Positive emotions: ability to experience positive emotions

  • Engagement: engagement, motivation and involvement towards challenging and useful objectives to realize talents and aptitudes

  • Relationship: building authentic relationships and a sense of community

  • Meaning: clarity of a dimension of meaning and purpose that go beyond the mere activities to be carried out and which connect to the dimension of values

  • Achievement: the need to grow and achieve goals, the feeling of making progress towards something important

  • Vitality: energy, vigor and health of the person

But even in this framework, some aspects can be overlooked, for example financial well-being.

In short, there is no magic rule and, without prejudice to what has been said above, I believe that starting somewhere as soon as possible (always in a reasoned way and not casually and opportunistically or for fashion) is as important as having a strategy, without the anxiety of covering all sides immediately, because we are talking about a long journey.

What are the main obstacles to the success of corporate wellbeing initiatives in companies?

Returning to what was said previously, certainly the general culture, if in our company we have the habit of underestimating wellbeing or understanding it poorly in its connection with the overall sustainability of the organizational context. This does not mean that long courses of training and mindset changes are needed, which often have little impact on their own. Better to act on practices and processes contextually, starting to disrupt the system, and then guiding it in the right direction over time.

Another obstacle, related to this, sometimes unfortunately is the management and the widespread managerial style. We need to work on a shared and coherent (or at least non-obstructing) leadership model with respect to the purpose of wellbeing. To give a concrete and banal example, there is little use in having a recreational space in the company or a gym if people are then stressed with unsustainable work objectives and rhythms, which will prevent them from using them.

Third thing, sometimes the budget is missing. And this always depends on the priorities and consequent strategies, because if something is really a priority as we know, the budget is there.

How can HR measure the impact of corporate wellbeing programs through the use of key metrics?

From the general objectives it is important to generate medium-long term projects that are linked to clear and transparent metrics , capable of being a point of reference for people and a key to verifying the effectiveness of our initiatives, particularly in terms of impact result. There can be many ways to set metrics and KPIs, but personally, OKRs easily come to mind, in this case used in a separate project context or by dividing the priorities and key wellbeing results within the general priorities of the company or the HR department, where OKRs are already being used to coordinate the efforts of the HR team or the organization as a whole.

What is the future of corporate wellbeing?

I believe the future lies in our ability to do something serious about it. We are in the era in which, finally, wellbeing can become something serious and strategic, we said to ourselves. So our consistency and perseverance in "making it happen" will determine its future as a central theme for companies and not just current fashion, which is fleeting as such.

In my mind, wellbeing can aspire to become one of the keystones of the way we conceive our corporates as a whole , in a holistic sense as 360° care of the employee, which also passes through him as a proactive subject, protagonist and promoter of growth and of everyone's well-being and not just as a passive subject, thus avoiding a paternalistic attitude linked to old patterns. In other words, wellbeing as a shared culture in which everyone feels part of and no one feels like the object of a further dangerous imposition: from having to be productive to necessarily also having to be happy, healthy, etc.

Do you want to discuss with our experts the best HR approach to bring wellbeing to your company?

Book a free call to design your wellbeing strategy with Trainect tools.

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