Learn, Share, Grow - Wellbeing Washing is On the Rise; How to Stop It
September 11, 2023
Below is a lesson from Fast Company on what wellbeing washing is and what to do about it, as well as our key learnings.
The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth. We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”. We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning. As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.
Wellbeing washing is on the rise. Here’s what it is and how to stop it
As a global mental health consultant, I’m seeing wellbeing washing play out in a variety of ways.
BY PETRA VELZEBOER
It seems like there is a new buzzword each month as we all try and make sense of the rapidly changing world we are in—“wellbeing washing” may be the latest.
Wellbeing washing is when a company emphasizes appearing to be focussed on wellbeing in a way that enhances their PR profile externally while ignoring how employees are actually feeling internally. Toxic practices, limited resources, and a lack of psychological safety can mean that the reality of a teams’ culture vastly differs from what an organization advertises. Unfortunately, workers sometimes need to ignore the wellbeing awards being won, the strategies being flaunted, and the faux-vulnerabilities being displayed by leaders.
Continue reading here.
- Wellbeing washing defined - when a company emphasizes appearing to be focused on wellbeing in a way that enhances their PR profile externally while ignoring how employees are actually feeling internally.
- There is a difference between wellbeing washing and being at the beginning of your wellbeing journey where you may be experimenting with different initiatives and learning about what works well in your industry and for your team. You won't always get it right but your focus should be on building your strategy and internal culture as well as your external well-being profile.
- Wellbeing washing is toxic and an effort to show off bells and whistles of benefits, resources, and apps while leaders mock wellbeing as fluffy and fail to invest in systems and practices that create actual change.
- Three things you can do to stop wellbeing washing:
- Try and change things from within - connect with the people you can partner with, such as your diversity and inclusion network, wellbeing champions, or HR teams that can help you raise concerns about what you think. you're seeing in the culture. As an aligned group you can come to the conversation solution-focussed and prepared to offer to support initiatives that can enable small steps to building a mentally healthy culture.
- Practice Bravery - If you want to call out and address a system that is failing workers, you should understand the risks you are taking. It takes bravery to talk about mental health, to lead by example, and to enact real change - rather than just telling other people what's wrong or what to do. Sometimes we simply need a collection of brave people to behave differently and who the way. Bravery, and standing up for what is right, is a skill that can be strengthened.
- Reflect on What You need to Thrive - Take some time to reflect on your environment and if wellbeing washing is taking a negative toll on your mental health. Sometimes, if you've tried to change things from within but you cannot change the system in place, it may be time to leave. Boost your support networks outside of work and do whatever is in your control to boost your mental health so that you can have the strength to do what you need to do for you.
- There are many companies that are focussing on getting wellbeing right. Not advocating rash decisions, but it is possible for work to be good for your mental health, not just something you have to recover from afterward.
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