Ending the Year with Wellness at Work

Over the last couple of months, we have explored what wellness means for you physically, mentally, and in your families. This month, we will explore wellness at work and its benefits for employees, companies and organizations.

Why is this important?  People spend more time working or at work than with their families. If the time spent there leads to positive outcomes of well-being, then this will help bring balance with other aspects of personal well-being.  Unfortunately, the statistics state the opposite.

“Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s new 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace…The bulk of employees worldwide — 63% — are “not engaged,” meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are “actively disengaged,” indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.”[1]

Several factors contribute to employee satisfaction and engagement.  According to Forbes article Why Your Employees Happiness Matters and What to Do About It, four key areas must be met including employee’s  physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. This aligns with our understanding of wellness as explained in our article Putting Your Family First.  We have redefined each definition to reflect life at work which we believe if achieved, should result in productive, creative and secure employees. 

  1. Emotional & Mental Health—Helping each [staff] member effectively manage and overcome the challenges [at work].
  2. Safe space—Creating a safe and pleasant, stimulating [work environment] that supports well-being.
  3. Financial security—[Feeling like your employment allows you to] provide for the basic needs of the family without resorting to credit, loans, or other predatory financial means.
  4. Intellectual growth—Supporting the educational, artistic, and cultural activities of members of the [staff].
  5. Job stability—[feeling secure in the future of your employment].
  6. Physical health—Prioritizing the physical needs of [staff through opportunities that encourage physical activity, nutrition, as well as] rest and self-care. This should also be supplemented with preventative medical and dental care for all.
  7. Positive relationships—Encouraging and giving space for connection among peers for each member of the [staff] to develop a sense of belonging within the organization.
  8. Spiritual development—Providing opportunities for [staff] to develop and grow in their spiritual beliefs.

Most organizations that are concerned about employee satisfaction have often responded by creating a Wellness Program.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on Wellness at Work says,

“A workplace health program aimed at keeping employees healthy is a key long-term human asset management strategy… Effective workplace programs, policies, and environments that are health-focused and worker-centered have the potential to significantly benefit employers, employees, their families, and communities.”

Holistic Employee Wellness

If you were to follow our 8 Dimensions of Employee Wellness, then it would have to encompass more than what employee wellness programs tend to include.  I believe it must embody elements of the following three categories:

Employee Engagement

What is Employee Engagement?[2]  It is a strategy that fosters an organizational environment where all employees of an organization are working from a strong sense of well-being that results in an increased commitment to their organization’s goals and values, are motivated to contribute to organizational success and hence, have in increased motivation to do their best.

Strategies include improving communication between managers and employees, increasing employee’s sense of belonging, and ensuring that management is modeling the behavior they seek in employees. 

“Increasing workplace engagement is vital to achieving sustainable growth for companies, communities, and countries.”[3]

Employee Wellness

The federal Office of Personnel Management defines employee wellness programs as:[4]

“Worksite health and wellness programs help employees modify their lifestyles and move toward an optimal state of wellness. They can also produce organizational and employee benefits, such as lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, improved recruitment and retention, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, and enhanced employee engagement. Worksite health and wellness interventions include, but are not limited to, health education, nutrition services, lactation support, physical activity promotion, screenings, vaccinations, traditional occupational health and safety, disease management, and linkages to related employee services.”

According to Entrepreneur Magazine’s article Watch What Happens When You Invest in Employee Wellness,

“Well-designed workplace wellness programs should reinforce the company mission and values at every turn, orienting newbies and reconnecting veterans in need of a boost.”

One way to start (or restart) a wellness program at your company or organization is by conducting an anonymous survey of employee satisfaction.  There are many online samples that can be modified to meet the unique nature of your organization’s setting.  This is the best way of learning of the specific needs of your employees or peers where they feel comfortable being open about their interests, concerns as well as needs that may or may not be met at the time of the survey.  The results then help determine where to focus the energy and resources of the organization.

Employee Benefits

USNEWS states in their article 8 Employee Wellness Ideas That Would Actually Work

ideas that are directly tied to employee benefits.  The important questions to ask in reviewing employee benefits include:

  1. Do your organizational benefits support employee self-care and rest?
  2. Do the benefits match the mission and goals of the company?
  3. Do practices and organizational expectations reflect the stated benefits?

How these are carried out are dependent on the capacity of each organization and/or company but certainly go far in getting the message across to employees that they are valued, and their wellness is important to the life of the organization.

How to Implement These Strategies at Your Organization/Company

Not everyone is in a position to change how employee wellness and engagement is viewed and addressed within their organizations and companies.  Yet, opportunities may exist to bring feedback to employers and managers that could address employee wellness over time.  Seeing your ideas implemented could help influence your own engagement within your organization and potentially influence the wellness of your teammates and peers.

So as the year comes to an end and you find yourself thinking about potential goals for the new year, consider wellness and engagement at work something worth pursuing that will go farther than a new year’s diet or exercise program.  Your employment wellness matters!

Happy Holidays!

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx

[2] http://engageforsuccess.org/what-is-employee-engagement

[3] http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx

[4] https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/health-wellness/

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