From the beginning of time, humankind found it necessary to create ways to exchange goods and services. This need created what we know as currency. According to the Webster
dictionary, currency is defined as “circulation as a medium of exchange.” Over the centuries, this exchange has taken on different forms such as bartering, metals, coins, promissory notes, gold, silver and copper. And of course, as of today we have settled on a digital currency and paper money for our global economy. In the workplace, I believe there is a hidden and unspoken currency that happens between employees and employers. Back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the currency in the workplace for employees consisted of job security, health benefits, a reasonable salary, wellness, etc. It was pretty common for a person to stay on at that same job for 20 to 30 years and then retire and receive their gold watch and plaque.
That being the case, I believe there is a new currency in the workplace between employees and employers, and that is well-being. What’s important to note when we talk about well-being is understanding that it is different from wellness. Wellness in the workplace deals with one’s physical health; this usually consists of a gym membership, physicals, screenings and checkups. Well-being is more holistic and deals with the whole person and their capacity to flourish. Essentially, well-being wants the person to reach their full potential and thrive in life. This is important for organizations to understand about well-being because when organizations plan on recruiting and retaining future employees, well-being will be their currency.
When future employees are considering working for an organization, they will demand well-being as an expectation. So what type of contributions to their well-being will employees be
looking for from a future employer? This new currency will mean they are seeking an organization that creates happiness and positive emotions, utilizes their strengths, provides a
supportive culture, helps them discover meaning and purpose at work, and affords opportunities for career growth. While this may sound like a lofty list of things that an employer should provide for an employee, the reality is these things are necessary for an employee’s well-being. People don’t just want a job anymore; they want to feel well-rounded in the job they are doing and feel as if they are making a difference within the organization, while at the same time developing as a person.
You may be asking yourself, Is the old workplace currency not relevant anymore? Absolutely,
job security, health benefits, and a reasonable salary are extremely important; however, the
definitive factor that will cause an employee to choose and stay at your organization will be
well-being. It’s similar to how our economy works today. We live in a time where most
businesses and people use credit cards and debit cards to pay for goods and services (digital currency), but people still use paper cash for purchases at times. Will cash ever go away? Probably not—now and in the future, digital currency is the most relevant option for
transactions. The same idea applies to the old and new currency in the workplace; the old
currency will always be important, but what’s relevant and expected is the new currency in the workplace and that is well-being.
Michael Dickerson is a work/life expert, Positive Psychology Practitioner, and host of The Spillover Effect Podcast. He utilizes positive psychology science and research to contribute to individuals, teams and organizations factors that can help employees achieve work/life integration. Michael believes is dealing with individuals as a whole person and enhancing the employee experience within organizations.