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Employee Wellness: A Matter of Trust

By Paolo Vasques, Industrial Relations Director, Benetton Group S.R.L.

Paolo Vasques, Industrial Relations Director, Benetton Group S.R.L.

Organizations, managers and consultants have been wondering for years about new ideas and actions as solutions to strengthen employees’ engagement and sense of belonging.

Wellness both within the working environment and in life has become a key focus area in the endeavour as it can significantly better living conditions as well as help society be more sensitive about human needs. Let us think for example how nurseries located in the organization premises can change life for parents and in particular for mothers who are, at the same time, part of a working context, irrespective of what role they play.

My own experience around wellness over the last few years focuses on concrete projects, e.g. insurances, training, benefits such as remote working, flexible working time etc.) and the benefits reaped from these have supported the attainment of desired goals.

HR managers do really have to try their best to optimize wellness in the workplace. That is why I feel we even have to investigate new solutions and the one I would like to share opens a different perspective.

It is tied to trust and how trust cultures are a wellness predictor beyond being a business issue.

The over 15 year research carried out by Dr Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., founding director of the Center for Neuro economics Studies and professor of economics, psychology, and management at Claremont University together at by Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D, licensed psychologist and Co-founder/Chief Research Officer of Envisia Learning, Inc. are an outstanding portrait of neuro management. The definition of this term coined by Zak “How findings in neuroscience can be used to create organizational cultures that are highly engaging for employees and produce a high performance for organizations.”

"Being honest with ourselves— how easy a concept yet how complex its application!"

Zak’s research reveals that Oxytocin, neuro peptide of 9 amino acids, works as both a putative neurotransmitter and neuro hormone to play a crucial role in trust, in family bonds, prompting empathy towards others, and reducing aggressiveness. What is more, oxytocin disorder causes autism and social trouble.

The findings even demonstrate slide Nowack and Zak trust research

The science around trust leaves no doubt: trust has to be given in order to have it back. Being honest with ourselves—how easy a concept yet how complex its application!

One more aspect to reflect upon takes into account what Eisenberger, N., Lieberman, M. and Williams, K. discovered that social pain activates brain regions key in response to physical pain.

My suggestion is, therefore, the following: as wellness and care can make the difference at work and help in the challenge organizations face day after day, we as managers have to expand our knowledge of the behaviors triggering oxytocin release, assess our trust leadership, upgrade trust dynamics in teams and finally contribute to developing trust cultures.

To sum up: daily behaviors may increase wellness; wellness has no boundary, it is part of managers’ tasks and responsibilities; trust cultures are wellness predictors; each person is involved in the trust-building process. Thanks for the opportunity given to me, as I believe in trust.

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