Round Table with Henri Lachmann: "Is well-being at work incompatible with company performance?"

Written on 29 March 2012.

The Grand Auditorium on the Lille campus was the venue for the Leadership and Managerial Competencies Chair’s  Round Table debate on the theme “Is well-being at work incompatible with company performance?”  Henri Lachmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Schneider Electric and Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Vivendi, Jean-Luc di Paola-Galloni, Group Corporate Vice-President, Valeo, Nathalie Delobbe, Professor at Louvain School of Management and advisor to the Belgian Ministry of Work and Employment with Angelo Errera-Muller, Consultant and Founder, In Spira, responded to questions from two MSc SOC students with a resounding “No”. For them, the physical and psychological well-being of employees are vectors for performance and business development; by ignoring them, companies may clock up short-term financial gains but in detriment to their future development.

Should there be legislation? The recent review of ten years’ of Belgian experience in this domain shows that the immediate cost to employers is high but that the return on investment balances out over time. Both Henri Lachmann and Jean-Luc di Paola-Galloni consider that employers in France already have the legal tools for accompanying the well-being of their employees without there being a need for additional legislation.

What advice to give employers in support of well-being and performance? A first step would be to develop their own set of indicators – ten is a reasonable objective to aim for – that are specific to their organization, its activity and environment. Important warning lights are absenteeism and presenteeism (presence at work of employees whose state of health should have kept them at home).

Well-being and performance are not just subjects for those who operate in developed economies as Valeo’s experience s in Mexico in localities suffering the consequences of the drug cartels’ activities, in Tunisia and Egypt since the beginning of the Arab Spring movement or in India clearly prove. The Round Table emphasized the overriding role of line managers and top management in ensuring company well-being. By leading the men and women working in their teams, they have the ultimate responsibility for collectively creating enduring performance for their companies.

At the end of the Round Table, the top managers, senior executives and students present in the audience were quick to take up the opportunity to explore certain aspects of the debate in greater depth or to share their experience with the rest of those present. The event came to end with the public warmly thanking the participants for sharing their expertise and ideas on a subject which concerns each and every one of us.

 A link to the recording of this event (in the original French) will be available shortly on the Chair’s website.

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