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A Simple Guide To Workplace Wellness – Understand The Basics

Written by: Jill Yeiter, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Do you want to potentially implement some workplace wellness initiatives but don’t yet have a clear understanding of the basics of workplace wellness or where to start? I’ve put together this handy guide to help you gain clarity about the importance, benefits, and how to get started with workplace wellness.

A Bit of Background

I have experienced profoundly contrasting work environments in regard to workplace wellness. For several years, I had the opportunity to coordinate an award-winning, multi-faceted, interdisciplinary worksite wellness program at a university with an engrained culture of wellness. This program was comprehensive, offering complete wellness assessments, coaching follow-ups, wellness release time, health and wellness classes, health insurance discounts, financial incentives, counseling services, and more. I, too, was able to access these services, which were life-saving for me during a time of great personal loss. As life unfolded, I left this position due to an international move. I have since experienced contrasting underemployment, also in an education setting, void of any well-being culture or even a basic human resource department. What struck me most in this environment was an overall tone that nothing more was expected or deserved; it was just the accepted status quo. My mental, physical, and spiritual health in this later environment were deeply affected, and ultimately, I quit. A poignant and personal example of what a significant impact our employment culture can have on us. This experience has left me particularly passionate about illuminating the topic of workplace wellness. There are countless examples of employee/employer relationships, each being completely unique and anywhere on the spectrum in regard to workplace wellness. Regardless of what behaviors, bottom line, or values are prioritized, human connection and relationships are at the core of life satisfaction both in and out of the workplace, and quite simply, on average, employees, both in terms of their behavior and attitude, are a reflection of the environments they exist within. If you, as the employer, want cooperation, proactiveness, and responsiveness, it’s essential to set the scene by creating and supporting a culture of well-being to support these values.

What Is Workplace Wellness?

A healthy workplace extends beyond the basics of health and safety protocols to value employees as whole individuals with emotional, physical, and spiritual needs that impact their performance at work for better or worse and has taken systemic measures to assess, create, implement, manage, and evaluate a multi-faceted culture of wellness.


Why Is Workplace Wellness Important?

Savvy employers embrace workplace wellness and build a culture of well-being by being responsive and proactive rather than reactive. Workplace wellness is important because it provides the foundation for both employees and employers to have their desires, needs and concerns met in a mutually beneficial way. Employers have desires, needs, and concerns such as recruitment, retention, productivity, cooperation, competence, profitability, expectation management, and burnout management. Employees have desires, needs, and concerns such as safety, security, connection, recognition, comfort, freedom, aspiration, and contribution. Workplace wellness initiatives have the capacity to meet the needs of the employee, so they can then support the needs of the employer and thus set the tone for collaboration rather than control which is the single most important ingredient for any healthy relationship, whether it is personal or professional.

What Does a Well Workplace Feel and Look Like?

A well workplace adapts concepts from The Wheel of Health in areas such as stress management, professional development, physical environment, and more to be appropriate for the setting in a way that respects both employer and employee as well as the available resources. Well workplaces are best when unique and reject a one-size fits all approach. For example, a small business such as a hair salon with fewer than five employees will not be able to offer remote working or release time for wellness due to the nature of its services, but it can still be a healthy workplace, including providing a satisfying physical environment to work in, shared healthy lunches, peer support, a casual employee available to cover sick or vacation days, and monthly training to improve skills or unwind work-related physical stress. Employees feel a deep sense of contribution and belonging, and the salon owner feels supported and is able to step away to focus on administrative duties. A large business, on the other hand, such as a bank, may be able to offer remote working, health insurance, counseling services, an onsite fitness center, regular personal and professional development workshops, and a full-time wellness coordinator. Employees feel valued and appreciate the flexible working schedules. Leaders are satisfied with productivity and retention rates and have quantifiable data to show their investment in wellness initiatives is producing a positive ROI in addition to the day-to-day cultural vibe feeling well.


What Creates a Culturally Well Workplace?

Leaders in healthy workplaces embrace spiritually aware leadership, emotional intelligence, and psychological safety as the norm, which allows them to lead from core values with clarity and purpose, be sensitive to both their own and others' needs, and create environments where staff feel safe to be vulnerable and honest. This leadership backdrop allows for wellness initiatives to be implemented such as an appropriate benefits package for the environment, support and encouragement for employees to access the benefits, and potentially rewarding employees for looking after their well-being. As the culture becomes engrained in the values of the organization it becomes the norm to check in with, look after yourself, and communicate your needs.

What are Some of the Benefits of Workplace Wellness?

There are both subjective and objective ways to measure success related to wellness initiatives. Subjectively we can look at individual case studies or group self-reported questionnaires. Objectively we can look at data related to absenteeism, insurance costs, turnover rates, etc. Generally, subjective benefits include individual success stories of increased energy, better ability to focus, feeling more supported, etc. Generally, objective benefits include a reduction in turnover or insurance premiums. Subjectively, we can look closer at my personal case study to gain insight into what was beneficial. I was allowed three hours each week to access services such as onsite counseling and group fitness classes. I took advantage of this, making it possible for me to continuing working during a very difficult time with my mental health due to circumstances beyond my control. My employer benefited continue because I was able to stay employed, continue to teach, coach, mentor, facilitate, and more. Objectively, we can look closer at both nationwide data as well as organizational data. For example, at the national level in New Zealand, Southern Cross Health Insurance, New Zealand’s first and largest health insurance provider, and Business NZ, New Zealand’s largest business representation group, have produced a workplace wellness report for 2021 with some juicy data that helps to understand worksite wellness in general in New Zealand. Or for organizational data, such as when I coordinated a university workplace wellness program, we can look at reports from Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) software such as Wellsource, which show trends in participation or objective health data collected and compare these to reports provided by health insurers data on claims to gain specific organizational insights. Whether it’s subject, objective, or a blend of the two, there are plenty of ways to understand the benefits either generally or specifically in a way that suits the setting.


What is the Best Way to Begin a Well Workplace?


Leadership support and a needs assessment are the first two ingredients for a successful wellness program. Forming a coalition that includes diverse representation, including leadership, is step one. Step two is a needs assessment which can be a basic survey or hard data collection.


All You Need to Know

  • Workplace wellness varies greatly in different employment settings

  • Workplace wellness can make or break an employee's decision to stay or resign

  • Workplace wellness is more than just following health & safety protocols

  • Workplace wellness is important because it values collaboration over control

  • Workplace wellness can be unique to every setting

  • Workplace wellness is created by spiritually aware leadership and initiatives that impact the culture

  • Workplace wellness benefits are both subjective and objective

  • Workplace wellness begins with leadership support and a needs assessment

Call To Action


If you’d like help strategizing a plan to implement workplace wellness initiatives in your organization or would like to offer a wellness workshop, I am here to help and can be reached at healwithjill.com


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Jill Yeiter, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jill Yeiter is a Wellness Coach with a Bachelor's in Lifestyle management and two decades of experience helping others improve their health. She has expertise in Workplace Wellness, Pilates, Intuitive Eating, and more. She currently runs an online business, Heal With Jill, and offers a variety of free resources in addition to her paid coaching services.

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