Driving solutions to thrive

Creating a workplace where people thrive involves a number of elements, MetLife Australia’s CEO, Deanne Stewart explains.


Articulate the purpose

Being purpose-driven sits at the heart of creating a workplace where people can thrive. Organisations need to ensure an organisation’s purpose is clearly articulated and demonstrated through its initiatives and projects. This will allow employees to determine if they identify with, and can work to support this purpose. This process of identification can help lay the foundation to build a thriving workforce of employees.


Focus on wellbeing

Wellbeing involves a number of components – physical, social and emotional. Ensuring that employees’ needs are met across all three of these components involves understanding their needs and putting programs in place to support these needs. This can involve a wide range of initiatives and programs including:

  •          ensuring work / life balance can be maintained through the right policies and procedures,
  •          offering support for health and fitness programs,
  •          creating a welcoming office environment,
  •          providing internal and external support for emotional issues, and
  •          understanding that work can be a social outlet and providing opportunities for employees to socialise both formally, and informally.


Be inclusive

Inclusiveness involves understanding that each person must be treated as an individual and this treatment should be free from bias, be it conscious or unconscious. This can be addressed through recruitment practices, but it must also be addressed every day in the work environment.

Increasing the levels of women in financial services firms is often spoken about as one way to be inclusive and it has been widely acknowledged that more needs to be done to ensure there are more women in senior roles. This can help create a culture that is inclusive and it can leverage the natural talents of both men and women. When women are included in all aspects of a business and see the overall culture as collaborative, they are less likely to ‘opt out’ from senior roles, and we won’t see leakage from our leadership pipeline.

However, inclusiveness isn’t just limited to including more women, it extends to acknowledging and understanding that diversity of thought can also be a valuable contributor to supporting a thriving workplace. Allowing ideas different ideas to emerge from anywhere within an organisation and valuing those ideas will make a positive contribution to creating a workplace where people thrive.


Harness the positive

The power of positivity is well-regarded and extensively documented. Why? Because it works! Using positive psychology to engage and lead employees so the focus is on collaboration over conflict can help employees feel they are adding value and making a difference. Overall, this can make work more enjoyable and increases an organisation’s overall productivity.


It starts and ends with leadership

A thriving workplace needs a diverse leadership team that embraces the concept of true inclusivity and supports every person bringing ‘their whole self’ to work. Without this formal policies and procedures are likely to not be sustainable.

There also needs to be a clear understanding that creating a workplace where people can thrive takes time and commitment. Leaders have the ability to make a real impact and they must realise that when people, who are naturally purpose-driven, identify with an organisation’s purpose and then come to work in an environment that supports their needs, this makes them feel valued. It is this type of environment where people will truly thrive.


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Thanks Deanne, A very good article and a concise summary of what most progressive companies are now aiming to achieve. Not quite at the cutting edge of say W L Gore or Google but still ambitious for many corporates, especially in Australia. This seems a very different approach to the one you employed at your previous employer - Can you comment on the catalysts that sparked this change? Many thanks...

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