The coronavirus has brutally reminded businesses that their activities are not independent from the outside world. For too long, organisations have been understood in rather mechanistic terms in which employees have to “fit in” for things to work out. Today, record rates of burnout and stress add to workers’ fears linked to the pandemic. Those who want to establish a healthy (online) work culture and ultimately performance are well advised to embark on a profound journey of regeneration.

While many management concepts such as lean and agile clearly have their benefits in particular areas, they can barely make justice to the set of work patterns in the majority of companies. Too simplistic models often overshadow the real dynamics at work. The consequence today is a growing dealignment and demotivation of employees with their organisations. On top, opportunities to create synergies and groundbreaking innovation with stakeholders are often not used.

To transition towards a well-being oriented and more innovative working culture, we need to step out of the little boxes and silos that prevent us from seeing the big picture and enormous potential out there. It’s about developing a more systemic and life-affirming view on what management and work can actually do. This touches in particular areas related to health, psychology and culture. Switching from a command-and-control mode towards a facilitating and networking style of management provenly contributes to better performance, well-being and sustainability.

Our decisions depend also on what we eat

Since employees are the most important asset of an organization, caring for their health is of utmost importance to ensure they can work well and creatively. A growing body of research has shaken-up our traditional understanding of decision-making as a pure brain activity. In fact, our decisions are highly affected by what some have called our “second brain”, the gut. The food and beverages we use affect the hormonal levels which in turn influence our mood and the way we understand and react to situations. Fostering knowledge about and access to healthier and fresher food can thus become a performance booster, besides fresh air, natural light, safety and the presence of plants.

Safety first

Stress is toxic

To create the right framework conditions for workers to flourish it is also important to create psychosocial safety. This means that employees can feel at ease and not in a permanent state of paralyzing fear or anger. To achieve higher psychosocial safety, following factors should be considered: work intensity and complexity, emotional requirements, decision-making autonomy, the quality of social relationships, potential value conflicts, as well as employment and work insecurity. This handy guide provides more information on how to boost psychosocial health in workplaces.

Building an innovative culture

Lastly, we can mention the role of the organizational culture. Many companies suffer from presenteeism, perfectionism, distrust and extreme competition. Others may be affected by a non-innovative group-think culture, lacking communication and bureaucratic processes. To overcome such performance-barriers, it’s useful to first understand on what basis this culture has emerged. Only by understanding the values and beliefs that the people have can change occur. Thereafter, it can be helpful to slowly but determinately work on restoring trust, understanding different perspectives and complementary skills, as well as establishing a clear vision and clear roles in which everyone can fit in and contribute with greater passion, vision and flow.