Everyone Wins When Leadership Focuses on Whole-Human Development
"Employees are your greatest asset." That phrase ranks right up there with "low-hanging fruit" and "think outside the box" in the pantheon of today's business leader mantras.
That's what makes a whole-human development approach such a powerful yet underutilized arrow in the corporate quiver. With the right framework as a guide, more fulfilled humans naturally become the motivated, innovative, and productive employees of which every C-suite leader dreams.
What is whole-human development?
According to Gallup, 64 percent of employees either are not engaged or are actively disengaged from their work, co-workers, and employer. With the average person spending one-third of their waking hours at work, there may be significant misalignment between an employee's work and personal lives.
But there shouldn't be such a distinction between these two lives to begin with. A whole-human approach to management and development is a more holistic, integrative strategy that knocks down the traditional barriers between work and home.
Stipends provide flexibility
Discounted gym memberships and in-house wellness programs are all well and good, but they're also confining. If you give an employee a free gym pass, but what they really want is to practice Bikram yoga at a studio, the membership won't provide them much benefit.
Instead of using specific programs for an entire workforce, a monthly stipend allows employees to choose their own path to wellness. They may choose yoga, rock climbing, art classes, guitar lessons, or whatever helps makes them feel whole.
Don't discount emotional health
Too many companies pretend there's an emotional moat around the office, trying to disconnect the issues in an employee's personal life from their work. But no such barriers exist in reality, so a person is bound to carry thoughts and emotions from the outside--both good and bad--into the work environment.
Counseling services, support groups, and plain ol' fashioned camaraderie all provide a significant benefit to someone that's dealing with something like divorce, loss of a loved one, or just an especially rough stretch in life. Establishing a plan for such inevitabilities not only helps the employee but also minimizes disruption to workflow and operations.
Mentor for the bigger picture
Finally, while there's certainly something to be said for the traditional 360 review for everyday performance, it should never supersede the bigger picture. Employees, particularly younger ones, have career ambitions that rise well above their day-to-day responsibilities. Pairing them early on with a mentor that can help direct them toward those ambitions is the personification of a win-win.
From an employee's perspective, a company that provides career path guidance--even if that path doesn't necessarily include their organization--stands out from other companies. This macro, global view also helps an employer spot misalignment between the business and individual, informs training and development, and drives professional fulfillment.
Collectively, this multifaceted and holistic approach, one that focuses on the many aspects of the whole human, benefits employees and employers alike. Sure, whole-human development is a different take on people management, at least compared with age-old, well-worn strategies. But it's time for leaders to embrace the same innovative spirit with their people as they have in nearly every other aspect of operations.
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