Chief Wellbeing Officer: Building better lives for business success Paperback – 17 May 2018
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About the Author
Steven P. MacGregor grew up in Motherwell in the 1980s, an industrial heartland in Western Scotland that was devastated by a mixture of politics and globalization. Pursuing a PhD in Glasgow that took him to Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon, followed by teaching at IESE in Barcelona, IMD in Lausanne and CEIBS in Shanghai, he has helped improve the health and wellbeing of more than 20,000 managers worldwide through his Sustaining Executive Performance program. He is the founder of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona with recent clients including McKinsey, Salesforce and Santander. Rory Simpson, a Scot, had parents who were polar explorers and this led to a unique childhood spending summers living with the Inuit in Greenland and Canada and later kayaking and climbing in Alaska, Finland, Norway, Nepal and throughout South America. This experience gave him keen insights for leadership that were honed from an early age. Rory is currently the Chief Learning Officer at Telefonica, and formerly Associate Dean of London Business School. In the last year he delivered leadership seminars in over 25 countries from China to Iran and Chile.
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The increased flexibility in where we work (more often from home or from hot-desks), how we work (increasing numbers of competing priorities and complexities) and who we work with (increasingly diverse work-forces with challenges of child-care, community and religious pressures). Most of the changes seem to have been driven by business benefit or business need (more often than not cost-savings).
I then thought about the managers and leaders I have worked for in these organisations and how many of them have lacked the vision or bravery to adopt practices that really differentiate them from our historic working practices. Those that have displayed that vision (and have appreciated the differences in the younger generations coming into the workforce) have usually been the ones that inspire their teams, generate loyalty and achieve success as a result.
MacGregor and Simpson's well-structured book gives a comprehensive and insightful guide to this subject matter and provides some practical techniques and approaches to addressing these. A really valuable and timely publication.
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As our society continues to evolve technologically towards the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with its use of artificial intelligence, the authors see wellbeing as being a necessary term in the workplace as the caring for your employees takes on increasing importance in the digital age.
The authors prefer the use of wellbeing as opposed to wellness, as they see wellbeing highlighting a greater connection to human beings and it being a broader, more serious term, especially for business. Unfortunately, the authors never actually explain or demonstrate why wellbeing is a more serious business term than wellness. This is a critical oversight, in my opinion, since wellness (the commonly used term in business today) and wellbeing actually represent the same thing.
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 is a high level view of wellbeing and why more human focused workplaces should become the norm. Part 1 consists of four chapters. Parts 2 and 3 also have four chapters each. Part 2 examines different aspects of human nature. Part 3 focuses on good organizational practices.
Chapter 4 specifically looks at the ROI of wellbeing. At the societal level, this chapter addresses the use of societal wellbeing survey instruments such as the Human Development Index and The National Performance Framework. At the organizational level, the authors address measuring high performance – thriving, health and performance, happiness, job satisfaction, engagement, experience and the more traditional worksite wellness programs. Unfortunately, at neither the societal nor organizational level, do the authors actually address how to apply the standard ROI formula to obtain an ROI metric or result.
From my perspective, there is little new in this book. I have read all this information before. But that is just me. I have read a lot in the areas of employee wellbeing and healthy organizations. Obviously, your background and experience will be different.
The value of this book lies not in presenting new thinking, but rather in the fact that all this previously available dispersed information is now located within one book and this is worth a lot. This book brings a lot of value to the discussion of worksite/workplace wellbeing.
If you are looking to further your understanding of workplace wellbeing then, by all means, read this book. If you have already decided that workplace wellbeing should be one of your strategic initiatives and you want to actually learn how to create a Chief Wellbeing Officer position in your organization, my recommendation would be to look elsewhere for that guidance.