cover photo Reflect Blog
Ingo Kallenbach

Healthy Organisation - the conflicts of a healthy culture

You as a reader of our Notes knows that we feel very strongly about the “healthy organisation“. After we have concentrated on the parameters of a “healthy strategy“ in one of our last Notes, in this issue of our notes we would like to unfold some challenges and ideas for establishing a “healthy culture“.

Most people would say that health in companies is important. In naming concrete measures, opinions often differ, however. Why is that?

According to Matyssek (managerSeminare Nov. 2013, No. 188) different concerns can be detected, depending on the hierarchy in the company:
The management thinks that “health is the concern of each individual“, “the safety requirements exist for this purpose“ and “the employees only want more money“.
Leading executives of the medium hierarchy complained on the contrary, that everything only costs time, which they don’t have anyway. The only purpose was to show that they are bad leaders or that they would have to behave themselves in a healthy manner to serve as a model.
The employees basically say things like: “That is my private business and of no concern to the company“ or they express the fear “of not being good enough the way that they are“.

From the point of view of each individual these objections can be understood. They have to be taken seriously. Simultaneously, leading executives are in a key position to establish a healthy culture. If they don’t truly believe in it, an implementation is difficult. However, nobody can be forced to change his or her diet or to suddenly do sports. A dilemma. Very often the call for a desired behaviour can lead to a reactance, and thus to the opposite of what wants to be achieved.


Healthy organisation conflict culture


Fig. 1 Healthy Culture

The basic aversion to changes and innovations is well familiar to everyone who works with change processes in companies. Among other things, it is a result of the fact that the previous behavior was insufficiently acknowledged.
Also, participation is of central significance: Fears need to be dispelled, taboos broken down and non-binding offers need to be made. The upper management can be convinced by means of valid studies that a successful health management not only produces costs, but above all an increase in productivity due to a motivating, healthy climate. Repeatedly addressing the health subject is of central importance if it is to be incorporated into the company culture.

However, that will still not be enough. The decisive factor from our point of view is that the company must lay out the framework and conditions in such a way that “healthy behaviour“ is encouraged and “unhealthy behaviour“ is made more difficult. People are willing to change their behaviour if it seems reasonable from their subjective point of view. To find out more about this requires “deep drilling“, but nobody said that a change in culture can be achieved “superficially“.