Well being and identity at work

Improving employees’ well-being is important because it directly impacts the essence of companies, namely, their human capital.

Promote well-being and identity at work

Nowadays, it appears that a lot of companies are trying to promote employees’ well-being in their organizations. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Adidas or Microsoft propose specific services (coaches, therapists, ergonomic workstations, etc.) in order to keep their employees healthy and avoid illnesses such as burnouts, work related stress, accidents or workplace discrimination.

Workplace discrimination is a common phenomenon and a lot of employees have already been the target of negative verbal and non-verbal behavioursA study from Lundberg and Cooper (2010) revealed that it is one of the leading sources of stress at work. 

On top of impacting the physical and mental health of employees, it can also lead to detrimental effects for the company because it involves major financial costs. Among others, it can increase turnovers, paidsick leaves and decrease productivity and work engagement. 

Nowadays, millennials (individuals born between 1979 to 1994) are choosing well-being, satisfaction and enjoyment at work over salaries and thus, it illustrates what the next generation of workers aspire to. Additionally, these aspirations also appear to be important factors to keep employees engaged and healthy, reduce workplace discrimination and avoid financial costs.

While promoting work related well-being and offering special services are solutions, another possibility could be to encourage the development of employees’ identities. Some authors (Albert, Ashforth & Dutton, 2000) explain that contemporary companies are more and more diverse and released from their bureaucratic constraints. 

Capitalizing on employees’ identity and identification toward the company could be a solution to reduce negative behaviours (ex. workplace discrimination) and therefore, regroup workers under one identity. Other studies also point out the importance for businesses to focus on employees’ self (i.e. their identity) to satisfy the new generation of workers

well being and identity at work
Two solutions could be explored to foster employees’ organizational identification and personal identity.

There are two solutions that could be explored to foster employees’ organizational identification and personal identity. Regarding organizational identification, improving communication can be a simple and effective solution. Having frequent face-to-face and electronic communications are essential to create an organizational identification and to maintain it. 

Indeed, communication with and between employees are ways to share norms, values and the culture of a business. If people often communicate with each other, they will begin to have feelings of inclusion and believe they will play a major role inside their organization. To promote this, encouraging employees to have coffee breaks, conference calls and face-to-face interactions are possible solutions. 

Personal identity is closely linked to organizational identification because it involves a state wherein companies’ goals and values are becoming part of an employees’ identity. In other words, their personal and organizational goals become compatible. Reinforcing employees’ personal identity will not only increase their organizational identification, but also improve their well-being. To achieve that, companies can develop workers’ leadership abilities. 

For example, Pearce and Manz (2005), proposed shared- and self-leadership as development areas. In a nutshell, self-leadership implies the ability to lead oneself and shared-leadership, to share the leadership and the responsibilities in organizational teams.

Two solutions can be explored to improve these two types of leadership.
  • The first one is to encourage leaders or managers to promote self-leadership inside their teams and to make their team members responsible for specific tasks (shared leadership). Here, the important factors are the reinforcement and adjustment of subordinates’ behaviours and to provide them with guidance. 
  • The second point is linked to the organization itself. Companies have to support and promote these kinds of leaderships inside their businesses. To achieve this, methods such as trainings and organizational rewards could be used. For the latest one, the acknowledgment of subordinates’ contributions (team performance) through incentives could be a possible solution. For the first, providing trainings about conflict management, communication and how to work effectively in teams are other possibilities to develop shared- and self-leadership.

To conclude, improving employees’ well-being is important because it directly impacts the essence of companies, namely, their human capital.


Albert, S., Ashforth, B. E., & Dutton, J. E. (2000). Organizational identity and identification: Charting new waters and building new bridges. Academy of management review, 25(1), 13-17. 

Lundberg, U., & Cooper, C. L. (2010). The science of occupational health: stress, psychobiology, and the new world of work. Oxford, OFX: Willey-Blackwell. 

Pearce, C. L., & Manz, C. C. (2005). The new silver bullets of leadership: The importance of self-and shared leadership in knowledge work. Organizational Dynamics, 2(34), 130-140. 

Sven Berger

Directeur d'Act-On Switzerland


Make an appointment

Merci pour votre inscription!

Vous pouvez accéder le replay du webinar “Bien choisir son SIRH en 2021” en cliquant sur le bouton ci-dessous :