We often associate the term wellness with healthy eating and exercise, but it’s so much more than that. Really, wellness is about taking a holistic approach to your health, which includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
When it comes to prioritizing wellness in a professional setting, it’s important to tap into a culture of wellness within your organization. This starts with leadership setting the tone and making wellness a priority for everyone in the company. From there, you can implement policies and programs that support employees in taking steps to improve their overall health.
Why is Wellness at Work Important?
The time of uncaring employers is quickly coming to a close. Workers are demanding empathy and emotional intelligence from the people they entrust their careers to. After all, we spend a majority of our waking hours at work, so it’s only natural that our well-being would be significantly impacted by the culture in our professional lives.
But the benefit of prioritizing wellness isn’t solely for employees. When employees are healthy and happy, they’re more productive. They take less time off, they’re more engaged with their work, and they have more energy to put into their job.
And if that doesn’t impress you, a commitment to wellness will pad your bottom line. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that employees experiencing mental distress account for nearly $5K in lost workdays every year.
Exploring the benefits of promoting wellness at work all begins with creating a culture around it.
Identify Priorities and Goals for a Wellness Program
To get started, you’ll need to identify the priorities and goals for your wellness program. This will help you determine what activities and initiatives to include, as well as how to measure success.
When it comes to setting priorities, think about what areas of wellness are most important to your employees and your organization. For example, if you’re trying to reduce healthcare costs, you may want to focus on wellness programs that promote healthy lifestyle choices. If you’re looking to improve employee productivity, you may want to focus on initiatives that help reduce stress levels.
Once you’ve identified your priorities, you can start setting goals. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, a goal might be to reduce healthcare costs by 10% within the first year of the program.
Establish Your Wellbeing Initiatives
After you’ve identified your priorities and set your goals, it’s time to start thinking about the types of wellbeing initiatives you want to implement. These will vary depending on your specific goals, but some examples include:
Fitness Programs: Physical activity is an important part of overall health. Fitness programs can help employees get moving.
Stress Management Programs: Stress can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health, so these programs aim to help employees manage stress in a healthy way.
Nutrition Programs: Healthy eating is crucial to overall health. Nutrition programs can help employees make better choices when it comes to food.
Mental Health Programs: Mental health is just as important as physical health. These programs provide support for employees who are dealing with mental health issues.
Whether you choose to implement one or all of these initiatives, make sure you have a plan in place for how you’ll deliver them. For example, if you’re starting a fitness program, you’ll need to determine where and when employees will exercise, as well as what type of equipment will be made available.
Create a Holistic Environment Through Company Culture
I know what you're thinking, "What in the world is a holistic environment?" Generally speaking, this implies wellness should be integrated into all aspects of the workplace, from the physical space to the company culture.
The physical environment should be designed with employee wellbeing in mind. For example, the space should be comfortable and free of hazards. If possible, allow employees to personalize their workspace. And make sure there’s plenty of natural light and fresh air.
The company culture should also support employee wellbeing. This means creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported.
What does a company culture of wellbeing look like?
Here are a few key elements:
It may sound obvious, but your employees (and you) have lives outside of work. Policies and practices that encourage and support employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance are essential. This might include flexible work arrangements, paid time off for family and medical leave, access to child care and eldercare resources, and opportunities for paid vacation time.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Diversity and inclusion are non-negotiable. Employees should feel like they belong, regardless of their background or identity. Policy and practices that support diversity and inclusion can create a sense of belonging and reduce stress and anxiety. A comprehensive DEI strategy might include things like sensory-friendly workplace accommodations, cultural competency training, and unconscious bias training.
Any thriving company is built on trust and mutual respect. Employees should feel like their managers have their best interests at heart and are committed to supporting them. This might include regular check-ins, clear and concise communication, and opportunities for feedback and input.
Support your employees in developing their skills and abilities. This might include access to training and development resources, mentorship programs, and opportunities for career growth.
The benefits of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing are clear: happier, healthier, and more engaged employees who are more likely to stick around. Not to mention, it’s the right thing to do.