A quick Google search or flick through Instagram reveals that the topic of wellness is extremely hot right now. With increasing awareness surrounding mental health, it’s only natural that many people have begun to think about what wellness really means for them. And, with so much of our day being spent at work, it’s prudent to think about what workplace wellness is and why it really matters.
What is workplace wellness?
When workplace wellness is at its best, a workplace is providing engagement, motivation, support and strategy for its employees, to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing is secure in both physical and psychosocial work environments.
Striving towards having good workplace wellness is all about working towards having healthy and happy employees.
Having a great work-life balance has long been at the centre of discussions surrounding workplace wellness. The movement for an eight-hour work day resulting from the Industrial Revolution highlighted the importance to have equal amounts of time for work, recreation and rest. In the 70 years since the 40-hour week was nationally implemented in Australia, Technological Revolutions and the entering into the Information Age has changed the way we work all over again - many people are working much more than a 40-hour week.
The new wave of employees - primarily Millennials - entering the workforce are a great example of how having a healthy workplace with flexible working opportunities for work-life balance can benefit your organisation in terms of opening up the talent pool. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that, apart from salary, a good work-life balance was the biggest factor when Millennials were looking for a new role. If they can’t get that from you, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
Fostering workplace wellness makes good business sense
Many employers struggle with the idea of workplace wellness, unsure of how it’s relevant to their organisation and why it would be worth their time to implement (often costly and time-consuming) strategies to help improve the wellness of their employees.
Unfortunately, according to Black Dog Institute, 1 in 6 Australian workers will be experiencing a mental illness at any one time and that’s mental illnesses alone, not any physical illnesses that might be plainer to the eye. Both mental and physical illnesses are extremely prevalent in all workplaces, all over Australia, ignoring them or pretending as though they are not relevant to you means that you are not giving your employees and your organisation the best chance of success.
By far the biggest impact that poor workplace wellness has is the role it has to play in both absenteeism and presenteeism - both of which send out huge ripples in the economy. Mental health alone is estimated to cost the Australian economy over $12 billion every year.
Absenteeism is perhaps the most obvious - when employees don’t show up to work because of illness, no work gets done and it’s estimated that in the UK, absenteeism will costs economy £13 billion each year. However, it’s presenteeism which is more common, and it’s costing more too, at £15 billion each year. Presenteeism occurs when employees feel the need to soldier on and come to work because they don’t feel supported in taking time off to see to their health, whether it be their emotional or physical health. Presenteeism is harder to spot than the obvious absenteeism - workers show up and sit at their desks, so it seems as though everything is business as usual but there can be plenty of health issues impacting their work throughout the day.
Different sized organisations have different advantages when it comes to fostering workplace wellness - smaller organisations have the advantage of having more personal connections while larger organisations have the benefit of bigger budgets. Regardless of the size, workplace wellness has the same impact - when wellness is high, engagement is high and as a result productivity and loyalty are also high. On all levels, it makes sense to be creating a workplace where wellness is valued and fostered.
Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.