Last week as I participated in my company’s workplace wellness committee meeting I realized that throughout my a career very few workplaces I have been a part of put time, effort and resources into creating a mental health positive environment.
I firmly believe that mental health is not seen as an employers responsibility by the majority of leadership teams out there, but that is thankfully changing.
I also strongly believe the workplaces that do see the value in creating an environment where their team members can be safe, seen and supported will be the sought after workplaces for years to come.
Does your employer have a workplace wellness program? They might or maybe this is a new concept you are just learning about – let’s look at why having one is not only a good idea, it is also rewarding one for your entire team and your bottom line.
What Is Workplace Wellness
Workplace wellness refers to the efforts made by organizations to improve the overall health and well-being of their employees. This can include a range of initiatives and programs designed to promote and be supportive of a positive work-life balance. There isn’t a set “rule book” when it comes to defining what workplace wellness looks like but typically it can include components such as:
- Offering healthy food options in the workplace
- Encouraging physical activity and exercise, such as through gym memberships or fitness classes
- Providing resources and support for mental health, such as through counseling or stress management workshops
- Promoting work-life balance through flexible scheduling or work-from-home options
- Educating employees on healthy habits and behaviors, such as proper nutrition, sleep hygiene, and stress management techniques
Part of defining what workplace wellness is, or isn’t, is first defining what the current culture is, what areas its participants want or need support in, and then creating a path towards achieving improvements in the areas that have been highlighted. Inspiration can be sought by seeing what other companies do to better develop their own workplace wellness but each culture will need its own plan to start to move towards a healthy workplace.
The 7 Pillars Of Workplace Wellness
It is said that there are 7 pillars of a healthy workplace which is supportive of its team members when it comes to mental health and wellness. Some workplaces will find they might need to focus on only a couple areas for improvement in their workplace culture and for some this all might be completely new – and that is ok! The point of moving towards being a supportive workplace that cares for it’s employees well being is to be in a continuous improvement cycle.
Mental health is an essential component of workplace wellness programs, as it can impact employee productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Incorporating mental health initiatives into a workplace wellness program can provide employees with the tools and resources they need to manage their mental health and improve their overall quality of life.
One way to promote mental health as part of a workplace wellness program is to provide employees with access to mental health resources, such as counseling services or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs can provide confidential counseling services, as well as resources and referrals to support employees dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
Another way to promote mental health in the workplace is to encourage a positive work-life balance. This can include policies such as flexible scheduling, remote work options, and generous paid time off policies, which can help employees manage stress and prevent burnout.
Employers can also promote mental health by providing training and education on stress management, resilience, and coping skills. These resources can help employees identify and manage the sources of stress in their lives, as well as build the skills they need to navigate challenging situations.
When you promote a culture of openness and support it can also help to promote mental health in the workplace. Employers can encourage employees to share their experiences and struggles with mental health and provide support and resources to those who need it. This can help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges and create a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture.
Physical health is another important component of a workplace wellness program, as it can have a significant impact on employee well-being and job performance. Incorporating physical health initiatives into a wellness program can help employees improve their fitness, reduce the risk of chronic health conditions, and increase energy and productivity.
One way to promote physical health in the workplace is to provide employees with opportunities for physical activity. This can include offering on-site fitness classes or gym memberships, organizing group walks or runs, or providing standing or treadmill desks. Encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day to stretch or move can also help to promote physical health and reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
In addition to physical activity, healthy eating habits are also important for physical health. Employers can provide healthy snacks and beverages in the workplace, offer educational resources on nutrition and healthy eating habits, and encourage employees to make healthier choices by offering healthy food options in vending machines or on-site cafeterias.
Preventive health measures, such as vaccinations and regular health screenings, are also an important component of a workplace wellness program. Employers can provide resources and incentives for employees to get vaccinated and schedule regular check-ups and screenings to detect health issues early on.
Finally, promoting a culture of wellness and support can also help to promote physical health in the workplace. Employers can encourage employees to support each other in making healthy lifestyle choices and provide resources and incentives to help employees achieve their health goals.
Social activities are an important component of workplace wellness programs because they can help to promote positive relationships among employees and create a sense of community in the workplace. When employees feel connected to their coworkers and have positive relationships at work, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs, more engaged in their work, and less likely to experience stress and burnout.
Social activities can take many forms, from team-building exercises and volunteer opportunities to social events and informal get-togethers. Some examples of social activities that can be incorporated into a workplace wellness program include:
- Team-building exercises can help employees build trust and communication skills, which can improve collaboration and productivity in the workplace.
- Encouraging employees to participate in volunteer activities together can help to foster a sense of purpose and meaning in the workplace, as well as build relationships and promote a positive workplace culture.
- Social events which can include holiday parties, potlucks, happy hours, or other social gatherings that allow employees to connect outside of work and build relationships with their coworkers.
- Simple activities like taking a walk or having lunch together can help employees connect and build relationships in a more relaxed and informal setting.
Social activities can help to reduce the negative effects of workplace stress and create a more positive and supportive workplace culture. By promoting positive relationships and a sense of community, employers can help employees feel more connected to their work and to each other, leading to improved job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Financial support is an important component of a workplace wellness program because financial stress can have a significant impact on employee well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. Incorporating financial support initiatives into a wellness program can help employees manage their finances more effectively, reduce stress related to financial issues, and improve their overall financial well-being.
One way to provide financial support in the workplace is to offer financial education and resources. This can include workshops or seminars on topics such as budgeting, debt management, and retirement planning. Employers can also provide access to financial counseling services or online tools and resources that can help employees manage their finances more effectively.
Another way to provide financial support is to offer financial incentives or benefits. This can include retirement savings plans, employer contributions to health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts, or tuition reimbursement programs that can help employees reduce their financial burden and achieve their financial goals.
Employers can also provide resources and support for employees facing financial hardship. This can include offering loans or advance paychecks to help employees cover unexpected expenses or providing assistance with debt management or credit counseling services.
By promoting a culture of financial wellness and support employers can help to create a more positive and inclusive workplace culture. Employers can encourage employees to share their financial experiences and struggles and how they overcame them and provide resources and support to help employees achieve their financial goals.
Spiritual support is another key piece of a workplace wellness program because it can help employees find meaning and purpose in their work and personal lives, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. Incorporating spiritual support initiatives into a wellness program can help employees develop a deeper sense of connection and purpose, both at work and in their personal lives.
One way to provide spiritual support in the workplace is to offer mindfulness and meditation programs. These practices can help employees reduce stress and improve mental focus and clarity, as well as cultivate a sense of inner peace and well-being.
Another way to provide spiritual support is to offer opportunities for personal growth and development. This can include workshops or seminars on topics such as self-care, stress management, and personal growth, as well as access to self-help books or online resources that can help employees cultivate their inner lives.
Employers can also provide opportunities for employees to engage in volunteer or community service activities, which can help employees feel a sense of purpose and meaning in their work and personal lives. By contributing to their communities, employees can develop a deeper sense of connection to the world around them and improve their overall well-being.
Finally, promoting a culture of spiritual wellness and support can help to create a more positive and inclusive workplace culture. Employers can encourage employees to share their spiritual experiences and struggles and provide resources and support to help employees develop their spiritual lives. By creating a supportive environment and providing spiritual support and resources, employers can help employees find greater meaning and purpose in their work and personal lives, leading to improved well-being and job satisfaction.
The physical environment of a workplace can have a significant impact on employee health and well-being, which is why it is an important component of a workplace wellness program. A healthy and supportive work environment can help employees feel more comfortable, energized, and focused, leading to improved productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.
Some of the ways in which environment can be incorporated into a workplace wellness program include:
- Provide ergonomic workstations and equipment can help employees avoid injuries and reduce strain on their bodies. This can include adjustable chairs, desks, and monitors, as well as proper lighting and ventilation.
- Offering healthy food options in the workplace, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain snacks, can help employees maintain a balanced diet and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Incorporate natural elements into the workplace, such as plants and natural light, can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being.
- Ensure that the workplace is safe and free from hazards can help employees feel more secure and reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.
- Minimize noise levels in the workplace can help employees stay focused and productive. This can be achieved through measures such as sound-absorbing materials and white noise machines.
- Promote work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible schedules, can help employees manage their personal and professional responsibilities more effectively, leading to improved well-being and job satisfaction.
By creating a supportive and healthy work environment, employers can help employees feel more comfortable, energized, and focused, leading to improved productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.
Ideas To Facilitate Workplace Wellness
There are many factors that can contribute to the success of a workplace wellness program, and here are a few to get you started or keep your efforts going. There is no wrong or right way to do this and every effort you make will either have macro or micro improvements to your workplace wellness inititives so efforts are valid!
Also keep in mind that it’s important for the leadership of an organization to be committed to workplace wellness and to lead by example. When leaders prioritize wellness, it sends a message to employees that it’s an important part of the company culture.
- Employees should be involved in the design and implementation of workplace wellness programs to ensure that they meet their needs and preferences. This can increase participation and engagement in the program.
- Workplace wellness programs should address a variety of health and wellness areas, such as physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, and mental health. This can help employees achieve a balanced and holistic approach to wellness.
- Using data and metrics to track the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs can help organizations make informed decisions about program design and resource allocation.
- Workplace wellness programs should offer a variety of options and accommodations to meet the diverse needs and preferences of employees. This can include flexible scheduling, remote options, and a range of activities and programs to choose from.
- The workplace culture should support and encourage healthy behaviors and provide resources and support to employees who are trying to make positive changes in their lives.
- Workplace wellness programs should be continuously evaluated and improved over time to ensure that they are meeting the needs of employees and delivering the intended benefits.
Congratulations on helping to create a more inviting and supportive workplace, your co-workers will undoubtedly be thankful for your efforts!