Let’s start by agreeing on the fact that Good Business and Worker Wellbeing are both enormous, boundless topics which will consume entire careers and never truly be understood.
Now let’s smile. And celebrate this agreement for a moment.
Because it’s after this where things get a little murky. Paths begin to diverge, schools of thought evolve, and binary agreements become less common.
What even is Good Business? And how would you define Worker Wellbeing?
We have an answer – but it is almost certainly different from yours. New flavors and spice variants will appear depending on who you talk to, and where in the world you talk to them. Definitions will change with the topic of the moment, or the industry in question; and the less resilient of definitions may sway with the budget allocated for change.
From policy enthusiasts lobbying for new legislation, to managers taking their team out for brunch, or executives putting the wellbeing of their workforce at the heart of organizational strategy, to colleagues simply committed to being decent human beings: admission to this club is open to all who wish to dispel the Friedman doctrine of “the business of business is business”, which dictates that the only social responsibility of firms should be to increase profits for shareholders.
But, what reasonable person wouldn’t want to prioritize the wellbeing of the people who are ultimately responsible for the success of their organization? Surely the benefits are obvious?
While ethically a no-brainer, when faced with a concoction of crises or conflicting priorities which could impact the financial health of an organization, such programs are often placed on the Corporate Social Responsibility shelf, or tucked into the “nice to have'' drawer under the stairs. Worker wellbeing will only be taken seriously if programs have a proven return on investment and make good business sense.
Creating interventions which have dual benefits isn’t easy. It involves a lot of innovation, stakeholder management, patience, plenty of coffee, infuriating setbacks, and anyone who has attempted to drive change at any level can agree that the journey is full of turbulence. But those who have an unwavering commitment to their mission will tolerate any storms of doubt and challenge; because no matter how the wind howls, real Good Business Leaders and Worker Wellbeing Champions will never bow to it.
Good Business Lab is a proud member of the research and impact chapters of this movement.
We focus on using rigorous research to co-design, evaluate, and scale up programs with partners in labor-intensive industries. The aim being to develop solutions which have both positive impacts on the wellbeing and empowerment of the workforce, and also provide financial returns on investment to firms, measured through a variety of metrics including improvements in productivity and retention. We have teams all across the world, and our scope of impact is ever growing, with partners in garment manufacturing in India, retail in Colombia, and automobile manufacturing in Argentina.
While doing research and publishing papers is great, scalable impact can only be achieved when the conversation is extended beyond the policy and academic circles. To contribute real, actionable, value to the global community of Good Business Leaders and Worker Wellbeing Champions, we have made the task of disseminating complex research narratives into simple content formats – without compromising on the rigor and detail – an equally important part of our mission.
And now we call on you to join us in launching the next stage of our journey, GBL Access, our new thought leadership platform, through which we will share research insights from the field and beyond – including conversations with business, academic, and policy leaders on the topics of the moment – to drive good business actions from the trenches to the boardroom.
In our debut season, titled “But, what about me? I can’t work from home.” we will explore how events over the past year have exposed and furthered existing vulnerabilities in labor-intensive industries, the migrant workforce, and female labor force participation rates in India. And how we all, as a community, can craft effective strategies and take real action, to build back with more resilience by prioritizing the wellbeing of workers.