At a 2017 event hosted by The Wellbeing Project (TWP), Gabriela Gandel, executive director of the social entrepreneur network Impact Hub, expressed the need to address dysfunction and high rates of burnout across the social change sector, through the development of well-being at the organizational level. Her comments resonated with everyone in the room and led TWP to engage with hundreds of people who echoed a desire to learn how social change organizations can develop well-being initiatives.

We continue to hear a strong desire for greater organizational well-being in the social sector, but the need is also plain to see. Institutional dysfunction has been making headlines globally for years, most recently in a series of open letters to the board of Planned Parenthood. The letters outline how financial wrongdoing, abusive and discriminatory behavior, disregard for staff well-being, and a culture of silence has resulted in the erosion of accountability toward the organization’s mission and values.

This kind of disconnection between values, purpose, and practice—along with organizational cultures that feed dysfunctional power dynamics, and deficiencies of accountability and transparency—cause havoc. They damage organizations, their dedicated staff, public trust, funding streams, and the overall reputation of the social sector.

So how can leaders begin to address these problems and foster a culture of well-being within their organizations? While our research on this topic is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest that supporting individual well-being—combined with well-tailored, incremental changes to structure, policy, practices, and communications—go a long way toward fostering healthier and more-effective organizational cultures.

Read the full article about organizational well-being by Alana Cookman and Gayle Karen Young Whyte at Stanford Social Innovation Review.