The Impact of Empowerment on your Employees - Interview with Elisa Corbetta

15th May, 2023
Our motto at Beaconforce says it all, Empower your People. Grow Your Business.
We believe that Employee Empowerment, while sometimes overlooked, is the key to ongoing success within any organization.

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Elisa Corbetta, Wellbeing Designer, Neuroempowerment Coach & Leadership Development Expert.

She is an activist of the WellBrain Project, MIDA's research and development hub dedicated to research, dissemination, training, and consulting for well-being in organizations.

For more than 15 years she has been experimenting with the self-empowerment approach to facilitate processes of transformation and sustainability in organizations, working specifically with leadership teams, managers, high potentials, and newcomers.

We are very proud to have her share her thoughts, insights, and expertise on the importance of Employee Empowerment.

Because it no longer makes any sense not to. Today we have scientific, statistical, empirical evidence that shows that only by taking care of the well-being of their people can companies continue to prosper. On the contrary, if they do not, they will face a decline in performance, productivity, innovation. Not only that, they will be exposed to the loss of their talent and to ever-widening phenomena of turnover. I am not describing an imaginary doomsday scenario, but an emerging picture.

The data we have available show that globally only 21 percent of people are actually engaged at work (Gallup research) and in Italy the turnover rate has increased by 73 percent in the last year (Milan Polytechnic's HR Observatory), just as voluntary resignations in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2020 have increased by 85 percent (source Ministry of Labor).

Neuroscientific research is able to correlate personal well-being with skills that are crucial at work today, such as mental flexibility, decision-making, lateral thinking, and concentration. In particular, Barbara Fredrickson, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina, has observed how positive emotions have a favorable impact on activating our more sophisticated cognitive capacities, while negative emotions force us into habitual patterns of thinking, stiffen us, and cause us to lose focus.

So going back to the question why it is important to deal with people's well-being at work these are some answers that I am convinced can make inroads even among managers who still underestimate this aspect, in favor of a totalizing performance culture. Then there is an aspect that has to do with the value in itself of taking care of people's well-being at work. Beyond the fact that this can be a forward-looking strategy to have people in the company who are well, and who therefore also function better, and perform better, we at the WellBrain Project believe that all-around well-being is a goal worth pursuing in itself, because it is good, because it is human, because it represents a noble purpose.

I can start by saying what wellness is not. Wellness is not just being well, in the sense of feeling pleasant emotions. It is not just being relaxed/and. It does not mean total and constant contentment and satisfaction.
I say this because all too often there is a tendency to simplify the concept of wellbeing, which is instead articulated, rich, and contains within itself several facets, such as the quality of relationships at work, involvement in one's activity, the possibility of accessing deep states of concentration, the opportunity to know and enhance one's talents, to make progress, to grow, in a word to flourish.

We can therefore translate well-being as "being well," meaning "being of value, worth, dignity, not just "being well."
This way of conceiving wellbeing suggests that dealing with it does not so much mean making decisions that do not displease people or implementing only initiatives aimed at improving the team climate, but it also means creating the conditions for people to express their best, and this, to return to the initial point, could also contemplate commitment, fatigue, frustration.

Well-being is, therefore, a broader and more articulated construct than pleasure or satisfaction, and it also contemplates self-fulfillment, the ability to contribute proactively to corporate goals, and to perform to the best of one's ability.

Most of the companies we work with, from which we are called, have already launched wellness promotion initiatives.
Yet most of the time they are initiatives, although valuable, unconnected to each other, not coordinated by a vision, a higher strategy. Here all companies, even those approaching to introduce organizational wellness interventions for the first time, should take a look capable of considering multiple levels of intervention and all key players. It is a matter of making an integrated approach one's own, capable of turning one's attention both to the employees, as individuals (so that they develop a mindset and a set of skills that can support the pursuit of their own well-being) and to the leadership, to those who are thus responsible not only for their own well-being but also for that of others, developing, or strengthening, a new style of sustainable leadership.

Finally, it also involves questioning organizational practices, that is, the processes, practices, and policies that can foster or hinder people's well-being. By having this integrated and systemic view then we can aspire to build well-being and flourishing environments and contexts that can really change organizational behavior and impact culture, avoiding actions with low impact of meaning and the all too real risk of cosmetic well-being interventions.

In summary: It is all well and good to do, but we need to move with an eye to the whole organizational system so that we have and transfer a model-driven strategy that helps provide meaning and clarity about where and how to intervene at a deeper, more generative level.

One of the biggest risks that companies run is to think that well-being needs are the same for everyone and therefore take a very uncustomized approach.

In my experience, on the other hand, well-being needs to change in relation to the population we target.
Young people, new hires, managers, high potentials, technicians, operatives, seniors--all of these audiences have a deep need for well-being, but for each well-being means something different.
There are those who need more flexibility and delegation in order to be well-being, those who need to develop more focus and lucidity, those who would benefit from leadership oriented to the development of their talents, those who need more ambitious goals, those who need to deactivate and recover energy.

So it is necessary to pay attention to the needs of each target, and even more so of each individual, and to activate targeted listening channels before intervening. Communication also plays a key role, because if you do not communicate using the language of the people you want to address, touching their pain points, you risk having low involvement in the initiatives that perhaps with so much effort you carry out.
The outreach and communication phase is therefore particularly critical and is critical to the success of the broader project. In this phase, it is important to involve not only the direct recipients of well-being actions but all stakeholders, with particular attention to leadership.

Elisa, as you know, Beaconforce is a deep listening tool, based on solid scientific foundations, which helps companies translate people's voices into insights and predictive analysis, creating more engaging, sustainable, and performing work environments. The companies that choose us are innovative and cutting-edge, they care about the well-being and empowerment of their people.

Beaconforce can play a key role in listening to and analyzing the needs of different business populations. Linking to what I was saying earlier, it is crucial not to design on-top solutions, with the risk that they are disconnected from people's real needs, but to conduct a thorough analysis phase. This phase of listening, analysis, and understanding must be conducted with tools that can make an in-depth reading of the needs, but also of the skills possessed in the company and that can be enhanced. This analysis can be deepened through systematic and qualitative listening of the target populations of intervention, for example through tools such as interviews and focus groups, which allow the evidence of data to be integrated with the point of view and words, always full of meaning, of the protagonists.

Only through a real understanding of the gaps to be filled, of the needs and desires underlying the pain expressed, and of the strengths to be enhanced, is it possible to build a strategy capable of impacting both change in acted behaviors and the promotion of a culture of wellbeing and flourishing.
Thank you very much for your interview Elisa!

If you want to find out more about how to listen to your people's needs and thus contribute to their well-being, learn more about Beaconforce!
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