Workplace wellness has many moving parts, all of which are important to making it work for everyone. And every individual’s contribution is vital to a company’s health and well-being.
Fun + Curiosity = Workplace Wellness
Curiosity: A strong desire to learn something.
Companies are stepping up their game in seeking curious employees. Consider these job descriptions pulled from several job listing websites:
- “If you have a passion and curiosity for what is possible and enjoy people…” (posting for a retail sales position);
- “We are counting on you to bring a genuine curiosity about how consumers search for information…” (posting for a data analyst role);
- “…you’ll need to possess a curiosity and a love of learning…” (posting for a digital content writer role).
Curiosity, the desire to learn new things, is one of the biggest drivers for a company’s success. Without curiosity, there would be no sharing of new thoughts or ideas, and a company would stagnate, falling miles behind the competition or even by the wayside.
So, how does curiosity tie into a culture of health and well-being?
Curiosity sparks innovation and creativity. Creativity is fun! Curiosity sparks conversation. And it’s through these conversations that new thoughts and ideas are born. These conversations forge business relationships, encourage teamwork, and lead to a more cohesive workforce, which in turn creates a culture of workplace wellness organically.
But according to Harvard Business Review, research indicates employees often don’t feel free that they can be as curious and open to exploring thoughts outside the status quo as their bosses may think they do. And while the overall health of the organization may be good, the workplace well-being can reach new heights by introducing this vital element.
The many benefits of curiosity
Curiosity has many additional benefits in the workplace:
- Curiosity improves performance. When you’re curious about a subject, you learn and remember more. Your brain treats new knowledge as a reward instead of a requirement.
- Curiosity makes you less prone to bias and stereotyping by causing you to seek alternative theories for what you think you know.
- With this additional knowledge, curiosity can help you make smarter decisions.
Accepting feedback is huge in a culture of well-being – curiosity makes you better at receiving feedback. By opening up conversations and receiving feedback, team members can make revisions and implement other’s ideas, forging the relationships mentioned earlier. Fostering a culture of curiosity is clearly in a company’s best interest.
But how many organizations encourage curiosity?
According to Survey Monkey, 49% of higher-level management believe that they “encouraged [curiosity] a great deal” – over half of the employees disagreed!
While management continues to think they encourage curiosity; apparently, it’s not happening. While curiosity is essential for corporate wellbeing, employees aren’t necessarily feeling it.
So, what’s a company to do?
Firstly, acknowledge that everyone is curious about something in their life, not necessarily work-related. Allow your employees time to explore their interests without standing over their shoulders. Let them have fun researching things that interest them.
Secondly, by encouraging employees to bring those interests to work and allowing them to identify with their curious side at the office, employees are more likely to parlay that curiosity into their work responsibilities.
Finally, if you are a manager, you are expected to lead by example; by being curious, admitting when you don’t know something, and asking questions with a sincere interest in the answers, you will build trust amongst your team.
Creating a workplace culture of health and well-being through curiosity is like have building blocks. You will need to build a strong foundation before you can add any more blocks; this takes time and perseverance to form and cultivate. Holding brainstorming sessions builds camaraderie and trust. Without the fear of being judged, team members are more likely to contribute their thoughts and ask questions that they may not otherwise ask.
Statements such as:
- ” You know, I was curious about that myself…what did you find out?”
- ” I looked into that once and found out that ____________”
- “If you have a free moment, why don’t you look into that and let us know what you find out?”
Engaging sentences spark curiosity and open discussion. While you may have directed the statement to one team member, don’t be surprised if you overhear another one saying, “Hey, you know what? I have some information on that you might be able to use”. And so, a culture of well-being is created.