What is Workplace Wellness?
Workplace wellness can be seen as a corporate philosophy, an approach taken at the most senior level, about the nature of the relationship between employer and employee. It acknowledges that the transaction goes further than simply financial reward for a job done. Life at work and life at home are intertwined because each one can have a profound impact on the other.
Workplace wellness is about how an organisation cares for the person more than just caring for the employee. But let’s be clear, all organisations, even not for profit organisations, have a primary purpose that has nothing to do with caring for staff, they have targets to reach, budgets to manage, plans to implement. And usually the most costly asset involved in delivering the purpose of any organisation, is staff. So it’s essential that an organisation can attract the best staff, retain them and get the most from them.
The rise in importance of mental health in the workplace is a reflection of the rise of mental health in society. Stress and anxiety are now common themes, openly discussed in a way that would have almost been taboo just 10 years ago, which is why significant resource is now invested in this area by HR departments.
Workplace Wellbeing (& Meditation) Benefits
Like any investment, there needs to be a healthy return, so workplace wellbeing benefits are scrutinised, with strategies and programmes being carefully evaluated.
The key evaluation criteria used typically fall under the following headings:
Attracting talent: is the organisation successful at recruiting the best candidates available? They are the ones who will achieve objectives set, make the strongest contribution, be high achievers and deliver on the promises made by the senior management team to its stakeholders.
Retaining talent: the cost to recruit and train staff is high, so achieving a low level of staff churn is a typical HR objective. Particularly for customer facing roles, a high level of staff loyalty and longevity also delivers benefits in terms of reassuring customers about the stability of the brand – we like consistency and reliability!
Higher performance: there is a direct correlation between happier, healthier, motivated staff and their output. A higher level of wellbeing results in a more energised, productive, creative workforce. These must all be measured objectively.
Lower absenteeism: being able to cope with stress can mean the difference between turning up to work and calling in sick. More than half of all work days lost are as a result of stress, which is a huge expense to any organisation, so it’s not surprising that managing stress is at the heart of workplace wellness programmes.
The Importance of Staff Wellbeing Activities For Workplace Wellness
Supporting staff mental health in the workplace starts with HR policies covering everything from flexible working to appraisals and remuneration, from communication and dispute resolution to health & safety and equal opportunities. Alongside an organisation’s culture, these factors form the foundations on which any staff wellbeing programs or programme will be created. Key considerations will include company size, whether staff are office based, on the road or working from home, culture, attitudes and interests – there is no one size that fits all.
But broadly speaking, staff wellbeing activities can be categorised as:
Physical – how to provide ways for staff to remain physically active, when many roles are largely desk based? Typical initiatives include cycle to work schemes, lunchtime running clubs, pilates, workplace exercise or workplace yoga classes, either on site or at a local gym. Workplace yoga benefits include physical vitality and energy as well as mental focus and resilience.
Emotional/mental – it is now commonplace for staff to volunteer and be trained as Mental Health First Aiders, being an instant and visible first port of call for their colleagues. External counselling services are often made available, as are mindfulness and meditation classes. Workplace meditation benefits staff because it provides simple, proven exercises they can use at any time.
Advice/education – there are many excellent resources available that are completely free, whether that’s bringing in speakers to talk about nutrition, sleep, stress and time management, or providing the comprehensive resources of an online employee assistance programme (EAP).
Workplace Wellness Programmes FAQs
Question: How do you bring wellness into the workplace?
Answer: Invite staff to get involved in the planning stages but senior level sponsorship and (ideally) involvement is essential. Always remember that the main purpose of the workplace is achieving work objectives rather than providing wellness activities! So be practical and explore both free and paid for services, it’s not unusual for staff members to play active roles.
Question: What does wellness mean in the workplace?
Answer: It means that the business owners or managers care about the wellbeing of their employees. It’s an attitude that contributes to culture as well as a tangible set of policies and activities that support good mental health in the workplace.
Question: How do wellness programmes affect the workplace?
Answer: Staff that are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, resilient and balanced are the greatest asset a company can have. Workplace wellness benefits are robustly documented, showing higher morale, productivity and creativity.
Question: What should be included in a wellness programme?
Answer: A breadth of activities that will resonate with all members of staff, not just a few. Some might be physical, like yoga or pilates, others such as mindfulness and meditation, are designed to address emotional pressures. Not all members of staff will participate actively in groups, so making information available that they can to help themselves to is important.
Question: What are the benefits of a workplace wellness programme?
Answer: Staff that are less stressed and more energised who perform at a higher level for the organisation. Absenteeism goes down, mood and loyalty goes up.