Navigating the Performance & Well-Being Paradox Amid Rapid Change

In recent years, issues related to employee stress, burnout, well-being, and mental health have taken the spotlight. The question arises: Why have these concerns become more prevalent in recent times? The answer lies in the pandemic, which pushed many individuals beyond their tolerance limits.

Three key observations:

  1. Few companies adjusted performance targets or increased staffing to support employees facing challenges.
  2. Gallup’s 2023 study1 revealed that people are stressed at work, not necessarily about work.
  3. Investments in reducing stress and promoting well-being often fail to correlate with improved performance.
State of Global Workspace
State of Global Workspace

If we believe that people are the most critical assets in elevating company performance, then we have a paradox that we shouldn’t ignore: The Performance and Well-Being paradox

This paradox can neither be solved by continually hiring high-performing employees, nor by implementing run-of-the-mill training or feel-good wellness programmes.

1 “State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report”, Gallup

Fisher’s Transition Curve no longer applies

Fisher’s Transition Curve, a model illustrating how individuals adapt to significant changes, isn’t entirely applicable in today’s rapidly changing world. Frequent and abrupt transitions leave people little time to recover before the next shock. This dynamic challenges the traditional linear recovery process.


Interrupted Fisher Transition Curve

Three key questions emerge:

1. Is it a lack of resilience or insufficient opportunities for rejuvenation that hinder individuals?

2. Can we optimise rejuvenation in both work and personal lives to better cope with constant change?

3. Can we achieve performance targets without sacrificing rejuvenation?

Work-life balance is not a zero-sum game

Previously, work and personal life occurred at different locations, but lockdowns and remote work blurred this boundary and caused overwhelm. Many individuals now aim to restore this separation, sometimes at the cost of their jobs or through sabbaticals.

The traditional view of a zero-sum game between work and personal life must be re-evaluated post-pandemic.

Work & Personal Well-Being need not be in opposing relationship
Work & Personal Well-Being need not be in opposing relationship

Work and personal well-being need not be mutually exclusive

Rather than a zero-sum game, they can complement each other. Success at work can lead to greater autonomy and choices in personal life, while personal well-being can enhance focus and productivity at work.

Leaders can make a difference by paying attention to the relationship between their people’s well-being and performance.

Three Leverage Points for Performance & Well-Being

Work and life, performance and well-being are opposing but complementary polarities that must coexist for our overall growth.

On the one hand, performance at work improves financial stability, self-esteem and a sense of security. On the other hand, well-being governs our physical, psychological and emotional health.

3 Leverage Points
3 Leverage Points

In our client work at Mind Transformations Consulting, we have found three leverage points that enable organisations and teams to drive performance and nurture well-being simultaneously – so people can deliver results consistently.

Relationship with self:

Understanding how individuals define success and self-care is crucial to defining better outcomes.

Relationship with the team:

As work and personal life intertwine, the dynamics among co-workers who face challenges together become essential. Building strong relationships within the team is key.

Relationship with the environment:

Enabling the team in adapting to the ever-changing external environment, embracing opportunities and riding the waves of change is crucial for better results.

By addressing these three leverage points, leaders and organisations can make strategic adjustments to enhance performance and well-being. Instead of viewing them as opposing forces, leaders can harness their coexistence for sustainable success.

Instead of trading off performance and well-being like adversaries in a zero-sum game, enlightened leaders and organisations can choose to leverage performance and well-being in a dynamic, graceful dance. This approach can lead to better outcomes for both employees and the business.

Mind Transformations Consulting supports organisations in uncovering their suboptimal ways around the Performance & Well-Being paradox and developing leverage points to rise above it.

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