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2019 is the year of wellbeing for New Zealand businesses. Here’s why.

SenateSHJ chief executive Neil Green says 2019’s successful leaders will be brave in their adaptation of wellbeing as a “business as usual” concept that will create better societies.

“Wellbeing is, at first glance, an idea that may seem hard to quantify – but it has very real benefits,” he said. “The attitudes of the past are no longer enough. We are entering an era of greater understanding of wellbeing, including awareness of our mental health and its broader impacts on happiness and productivity.

“Leaders who recognise this will rise to the top in 2019. Those who don’t will find themselves managing outdated business models, and losing valuable staff members. Understanding people’s priorities, needs and interests, and offering flexibility around those, is a good first step towards wellbeing in the workplace.”

Under the central theme of wellbeing, SenateSHJ has published its annual Future Five trends that will shape 2019. They are outlined below, with a Future Five 2019 presentation and video also available.

1. Wellbeing will deliver success

Wellbeing is being seen as a key indicator of national health by governments and organisations across the world. In New Zealand, the Government is working with the New Zealand Treasury to create a Wellbeing Budget, due to be published in 2019. In Australia, the Government is putting more funding into its mental health programmes for young people. The shift towards wellbeing is significant and one that has prompted support – and scepticism. In the corporate world, the broadening of success metrics may run contrary to decades of capitalist conditioning. Many will wait to see clear success trends before embracing wholesale change. Yet the shift towards flexibility and work/life integration and balance has begun in earnest.

The trend will lead to better conversations among people who may have different working structures but a shared ambition: quality of life. We predict that leaders who embrace the wellbeing challenge will come out on top in 2019.

2. The authentic human touch will matter

We live in a world where social media amplifies, exaggerates and falsifies. As this trend has increased, so has the use of bots, artificial intelligence and data mining. As such, the pendulum has swung back to genuine human connection as a powerful force in communication and influence. The human touch has gained greater significance as people seek meaning in a world of automation.

Data analysis and online engagement have become an integral part of any organisational strategy – that will not change. However, it will be vital to include the human touch in outreach to stakeholders. To be empathetic, genuine and real.

3. We will be stronger together

A lack of bipartisanism has left some Western nations struggling to reach agreement. In the United States, the Government has this year had its longest shut-down in history. In the United Kingdom, the Brexit debate has clearly divided politicians and the community. In Australia and New Zealand, the growth and support of independents and smaller parties have led to a new policy environment that depends on wider consensus-building.

In this environment, leaders in the corporate and government worlds must find new ways to resolve big problems together, and with an eye to the macro needs of society and our environment.

In the past year, movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have shown the strength of grassroots campaigns. Both blossomed quickly to become national and international social movements.

In 2019, change across society, including the LGBTQIA communities, will continue to be initiated from the ground up. Individual and community values will have an increasingly important influence on decision-making and consensus-building.

Boards will be increasingly asked to explain if their organisations fail to demonstrate appropriate cultural, social and environmental behaviours. Society and activist groups, if not government, will hold them to account.

4. We will see less talk, more do

While the wellbeing lens will continue to drive principles-led decision-making, the time has clearly come to stop talking and start doing.

Across Australasia, this will include making decisions on just how Paris emission commitments will be met and, in New Zealand, what the Zero Carbon Act means. Organisations (both public and private) will be seeking their “plastic bag” moments, when they can show – and promote – real action towards positive social change.

Leaders who fail to reach targets on sustainability and other social goods can expect to face a backlash.

5. Needs will be satisfied, fast

Our sense of personal wellbeing is tied to convenience in our lives. We feel entitled to get what we need, the way we need it, when we need it. And if we’re not getting that from traditional structures, we’ll create our own answers. In 2019 we’ll see the launch of more digitally based, game-changing services, disrupting the way we currently work and live.

The winners will be the people, and our wellbeing. In 2019, we’ll look after ourselves that little bit more – and the people around us too.

Review overview