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New study: Individual wellbeing doesn’t always add up to team wellbeing

A new study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior has examined the dynamics between individual well-being and team well-being in the workplace through a qualitative diary study of 12 teams. The research, conducted by Emma Nordbäck, a member of the Center for Responsible Leadership and an Assistant Professor at Hanken School of Economics, along with her colleagues, sheds light on interesting insights regarding how team and individual well-being are connected in paradoxical ways.

When it comes to individual well-being, it refers to feeling good, having energy, and being engaged in one’s work. Team well-being, on the other hand, is something entirely different. It involves the team functioning as a cohesive unit with strong and satifying relationships among colleagues. A well-functioning team stays viable for the long haul, with members wanting to stay together as a team.

However, there’s a delicate balance to strike. If a team solely focuses on its own well-being and needs, individual team members may risk burnout. Conversely, if individuals only prioritize their own well-being without considering the team, the overall team well-being suffers. The study found that the teams performing best at both the team and individual levels were those that engaged in team reflection. Team members openly shared their experiences and problems, so that the team could adapt their behaviors and practice to fit everyone’s needs. Unfortunately, such teams are in the minority. Based on the study, I recommend that leaders systematically strive to create a balance between team and individual needs. Achieving this requires open and regular dialogue within the team.

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