Performance versus wellness – what’s the goal?

Law firms, accounting firms, investment banks, and many other businesses are finding that profitability is down circa 20%. Or as one Managing Partner that I was speaking to recently put it, they are now paying people 20% more for the same output that they were getting two years ago…

It kind of feels that companies have been very good at making allowances and increasing flexibility over the pandemic in the interests of looking after the physical and mental health of their staff. However, these are becoming the expected norm for staff and these are not necessarily leading to increased productivity for the business.

This has left some senior leaders feeling like they are running a health retreat instead of a business!

As a result, some companies are forcing people back to the office 5 days a week which can only be seen as an effort to return to the way leaders knew how to lead for productivity.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be happening if the company felt that performance outcomes were actually being met.

Now while it also screams – “we haven’t bothered to invest in our leaders well enough to coach them on outcomes-based leadership techniques”, it does save cognitive energy to let people go back to working in the way they “know”.

Before we go into what we know about performance vs wellness it’s important to make some clarifications here…

Performance of the individual versus performance of the business

While many people will say they are often more productive when they have flexibility around where and when they work, they are generally looking at it from their own point of view.

Just because you have a company full of individuals feeling that they are “more productive”, doesn’t mean that the company goals are being met. Clearly, otherwise companies would not be feeling like they are paying 20% more for the same output.

Or, as one of my clients puts it, one person’s flexibility may become another co-worker’s inconvenience.

And where does wellness fit in?

Well if you have a purely wellness goal, work will be a delightful health retreat with hardly any time to work. Is the term “adult day care centre” too harsh?!


Rather than thinking of wellness in the workplace as yoga classes and a fruit bowl, wellness need to be broadened to increased performance for individual goals and the company goals, while working in a way that feels easier, so that people can feel safe and invigorated to do their best work.

If work feels really hard, all the time, you’re doing it wrong.

So given all these moving variables and competing priorities, it’s understandable that companies are looking for answers on how to increase both individual and company performance, in a way that feels easier for all involved…

So what to do?

  • Outcomes, outcomes and more outcomes.
    We really can’t stress this enough. Outcomes need to be crystal clear from the executive boardroom. If there isn’t 100% clarity at this level, there will ambiguity.Ambiguity results in misalignment between individual and company goals.Ambiguity costs energy, time and money for all involved. It involves more internal meetings (which cost around $155,000 per day per 100 employees) and more rework of projects.
  • Coach your leaders to use outcomes-based leadership.
    All leaders should know how to coach their teams around outcomes, outcomes and more outcomes. Everything from how to agree on them to how to deliver them.This involves coaching psychological safety and accountability. And yep – if people don’t deliver, that’s an accountability conversation that needs to be had.It involves coaching people on strategic thinking to achieve outcomes in the easiest way possible.
  • Coach people to understand the neuroscience of their optimal way of working.
    No two brains are created the same and regardless of where people work, how they structure their days can have a massive impact on how easy their work feels throughout the day.


So rather than lower performance to meet wellness standards, let’s lift wellness to meet performance standards.

People are tired of being tired, so as a leader it’s your responsibility to focus on the above so that people can do their best work, in a way that feels easier by spending way less cognitive energy, and of course meets company goals.

If you would like further help with incorporating the above into your leadership skills, book your performance call with us now.