Organisational health is the sum of our health, our leaders health and the health of our teams including the health of our relationships. The way we are together at work will be the quality we offer those we serve. If we are not vital, or ‘running on empty’, this affects our capacity to deliver our services to the best quality we can.
What is the underlying foundation to this?
For every one of us it starts practically and physiologically. Our own health and vitality is the foundation. To be ‘fit for work’ means that our ‘unit of expression’ – our body is the best it can be with no perfection. So whether that means drinking more water, or making sure we go to the toilet on time (rather than overriding even the most basic of feelings), or eating food that nourishes us in our day, being open to every day being a learning opportunity (there are no mistakes as such – simply learning moments) all of these simple things can start to build a strong foundation. These basic needs support our confidence, and our sense of self worth. And from a Phd study in 2013 (Keep http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/21799/) when we do self care, the quality of our work improves as does the quality of our relationships with others.
So if we take the NHS in England as an example – if we put 1.3 million staff onto a practical ‘self-care programme’ using simple building blocks each month or year e.g. hydration and going to the toilet on time year one, year two posture and moments of rest, year three nourishing food and gentle exercise, we would have an army of people with a ‘lived experience’, and army who had a more solid foundation of health and wellbeing and who understood the most basic of physiological needs – so that everyone of the public and patients had a reflection of people who were taking a deeper responsibility for their health. More so, and as found in the PhD study when we self care, we naturally want to care for others – so it is the best customer care programme we can have. There is no point having a ‘customer care’ programme if it does not focus on the wellbeing of the staff first – as arguably we cannot care for others if we are not caring for ourselves.
A simple step in taking care of ourselves at work is for each of us to connect to our physical body – checking in to see how we feel e.g. before, during and after our day to see where our physiology changes, do we get hot, or restless, do we feel tired or sleepy at any points? Our body is talking to us all the time, it is our choice whether we listen or not.
Our health - each of us within the organisation has a responsibility - we can either be healthy - as best we can, or not. We each have our part to play in this - no matter what an organisation does to enable a healthy working environment, health and wellbeing initiatives, and freedom to speak up and make changes as needed, if we ourselves are not dedicated to our own health and wellbeing then part of the equation of organisational health is missing.
Thus one key to turning the tide of organisational illness and dis-ease is to start with our own health. As in the end every workplace is made up of the summation of each of us who work within it.