What is Wellbeing at Work – and Why Does it Matter?
It’s no surprise that workplace wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular with organisations across all industries. After all, Australians spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace. Study after study produce strikingly similar results: healthier employees are more productive employees. And more productive employees lead to more profitable organisations.
What is Workplace Wellness Anyway?
According to Gallup and Healthways, there are five essential elements of wellbeing:
- People who feel they have a purpose genuinely enjoy what they do each day and feel motivated to reach their goals.
- Those who have achieved social wellbeing feel loved and supported by the important people in their lives.
- Financial insecurity can wreak havoc on a person’s wellbeing. Managing finances to maximise security and minimise stress is key to financial wellbeing.
- People who don’t feel safe in their communities are never really at peace. Liking where you live – even taking pride in it – is a vital ingredient in overall wellbeing.
- The significance of physical health on well-being is undeniable. Being in good health – and the influx of energy that comes from taking care of the body – both contribute to well-being.
Workplace Wellness Ideas that Work in a Variety of Industries
The goal of any employee wellness program is to improve the overall health of the employees. Successful programs are tailored to the individuals who work in that particular organisation; they are as unique as the employees themselves. Wellness programs vary dramatically in their intensity, time commitment, and cost. Below are several workplace wellness program ideas:
- Flexible schedules. Many employees cite high stress levels as a chief factor in their unhappiness at work. Employers who are able to offer flexible working hours often alleviate a great deal of employee stress; for example, employees can avoid commuting during rush hour, which is a common source of anxiety and stress. They can also head out to the gym for a late afternoon cycling class, or take an extended lunch break to try out that outdoor yoga class they’ve been considering.
- Get charitable. Volunteering does wonders for the mental health of participants; it helps to foster social relationships and even decreases the risk of depression. Employees who participate in a charity race, for example, not only reap the benefits of physical activity, but also develop a stronger sense of community.
- Take meetings outside. Meetings are often unavoidable in the workplace, but who says they have to happen in a stuffy office? A simple change of venue – specifically to the great outdoors – can result in happier, more productive employees.
- Get the competitive juices flowing. Some organisations are filled with competitive employees who thrive on being at the top of their game. Workplace wellness programs can use this competitive spirit to foster some friendly competition among employees. Fun yet effective challenges include drinking 1L of water during the workday; losing the highest percentage of body fat, or even a stair climbing competition.
- Encourage healthy eating. Most companies have a break room or kitchen area where employees regularly congregate. An easy-to-implement wellness initiative simply involves stocking these common areas with healthy snacks – think fruits, veggies, protein bars, and water bottles. Employees are more likely to make healthy choices when they’re also convenient choices.
- Build the gym. Certainly, not every organisation has the financial capability to have an in-house fitness centre, but the benefits of gyms in the workplace are numerous. Employees can avoid the financial burden of joining a community gym. They can also start their workday with exercise, thereby increasing productivity throughout the day. Alternatively, lunch breaks can include a visit to the gym, negating the need for employees to leave early to commute to the gym across town at the end of a long workday.
Whether a company’s wellness program is brand new or well-established; whether it’s uncomplicated or intricately executed, the bottom line is this: every single wellness program contributes to the strides being made toward a healthier, more productive corporate environment.