Workplaces are rich locations for promoting health, wellness and overall work-life balance. Both individuals and the workplace itself (and the work getting done) benefit from cultivating a healthy workplace environment as well as giving attention to employee wellness needs. Research shows that healthy employees have more energy, enjoy their work more, are more engaged and more likely to be retained by their employer than their colleagues who are experiencing high levels of stress often resulting in lower levels of both productivity and morale. I have a strong belief that it matters to take care of the people who take care of business; in other words, the well-being of professionals is at the heart of the overall health and capabilities of an organization.
Workplace wellness is about more than offering employees a gym membership and having a health fair once a year (these are positive things indeed), however In my experience, as well as within a great deal of the literature and research specific to wellness within the workplace, healthy workplaces tend to look to the big picture and strive to create positve and healthy workplace cultures where employee well-being can naturally flow. The following three considerations are examples of the tendencies and practices of healthy organizations:
1) Stress management is considered legitimate – healthy workplaces recognize that stress is real and legitimate and they do not blame employees for experiencing the negative effects of high stress. Instead, they are proactive, attempt to identify and reduce the occupational stressors within the workplace (for example, workload management that aims to pay attention to and adjust workload pressures for staff where need be), provide support for stress management, including providing educational opportunities that teach employees how to manage stress in healthy ways.
Stress management is seen as a shared responsibility where individuals are encouraged to take care of themselves and the workplace itself takes a proactive approach to acknowledging and reducing workplace stressors where possible.
2) Leadership is a core value in the workplace – healthy workplaces invest in their managers and leaders helping them to develop the soft skills and emotional intelligence of effective transformational leadership. I believe leaders ultimately create the overall culture in the workplace, hence, supporting leaders to be healthy and mindful of work-life balance is a way to infuse these essential elements across the workplace.
3) Recognition, acknowledgement and celebration – are common within the workplace. Employees are thanked often, are acknowledged for their work and unique contribution to the team and the workplace. Good work is celebrated, challenges are named and addressed, and communication is open and respectful between colleagues. Lastly, people know they are part of something, that their work matters, that who they are as a human being matters. This is reflected through timely and meaningful performance reviews, supervision, peer support, formal awards and recognition, informal acknowledgement for a job well done – it is through creating a culture of gratitude and visibility for all of the good stuff people are doing each and every day.
Take a look at these three things, how well is your workplace doing in terms of creating a healthy workplace culture? What is working? What are opportunities for growth and improvement? How can you personally be an advocate for a healthy workplace? We all can make a positive difference! Even if you work in your own office, are a solopreneur, how do you honour wellness within your work? When do you take breaks, connect with others, stretch your body, get away from the computer, set limits? Wellness at work is both a challenge and an invitation for each of us to be the best we can be in all that we do.