Why Workplace Wellness is So Much More Than an Office Fruit Bowl

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That goes for in-office yoga too.

Bowl of fresh Blueberries

While there’s a direct correlation between the health of a company and the health of its workforce, 76 per cent of the world’s workers still admit to struggling with their overall wellness. That’s a pretty staggering amount of people heading down a one-way road to burnout.

“Organisations are understanding more and more that their success is directly tied to their people, no matter what industry they’re in,” explains Martine Beaumont, CEO of Select Wellness, the company that takes care of the wellness program at Atlassian (which is consistently ranked at the top of the Best Places to Work study). “This is inspiring them to look for ways they can positively impact their employees’ wellbeing.”

The first major step towards a happy-and-healthy workforce is to stop viewing wellness as a box-ticking exercise, advises Martine.

“At Select Wellness, we are excited that this conversation is finally progressing beyond generic wellness offerings, such as fruit bowls, employee assistance programs, yoga classes and mindfulness training,” she continues. “Whilst we firmly believe these should all be standard company benefits, they are, in three out of four cases, not delivering real improvements in wellbeing.”

Read More: 5 Things Great Bosses Regularly Tell Their Staff

Indeed, failing to prioritise employee wellbeing is costing businesses billions due to poor staff retention and flailing productivity levels. “With evidence coming out of an epidemic of global unwellness and how much this is costing organisations, this is a conversation we can no longer avoid,” warns Martine, who founded Select Wellness following years of working in the mental health and employee assistance programs sect.

So how can you actually ensure that you’re working in a healthy workplace? Here’s her practical advice.

Tailor your wellness programs to your talent

“Employees need to feel that their organisation genuinely cares and is not simply ticking the wellness box,” says Martine. “This can only be achieved with individualised wellness programs that honour the reality of how completely different each of us and our specific circumstances and needs are.”

Recognise that the highest functioning employees are at a greater risk

It’s often the highest functioning employees who drive themselves in often-unsustainable ways that are the least likely to make use of employee assistance programs and general wellbeing offerings, warns Martine.

“They are too busy for the workplace yoga class or mindfulness session and are annoyed if forced to attend,” she continues. “The stigma of mental health issues remains an issue particularly among executives and leaders who are reluctant to engage with their workplace employee assistance programs due to fears of perceived weakness or vulnerability by their employer or co-workers. It is only when they reach crisis point that they seek assistance and by then what could have been a simple lifestyle hack has developed into a much harder to shift mental illness.”

Make time for reflection

“If you don’t know what’s wrong, it is very hard to fix it,” says Martine, who cites general ‘too-busy’ excuse as the roadblock between us and honest reflection. “This to us at Select Wellness is the greatest obstacle to improving wellbeing and is the reason why we believe the assessment stage of wellness is critical,” she warns. “Time and time again participants in our managerial executive wellbeing survey tell us just the act of sitting down and completing the survey was a powerful experience for them.”

Pepper your day with self-care

Finally, one of the simplest ways people can improve their overall wellbeing is by not leaving their self-care until the end of the day. “This is when it’s going to take extra effort to manage your anxiety levels back down,” advises Martine. “Taking breaks for self-care during the day will mean you are far calmer at the end of the day and more productive and available for yourself and others at home.”

Read More: Cheryl Strayed’s Simple Solution For Overcoming Decision Anxiety

Rosalyn

Great article. I agree with your comment about the highest functioning employees being at greatest risk. In my experience in corporate health, it’s easy to engage the healthy employees with great work life balance. We nickname them “The worried well”. The real challenge is getting those time poor ones who are under a lot of pressure. I believe it starts at the top with managers who support a positive health culture- then it trickles down. Workplaces that support and even encourage flexible work arrangements (coming in later so you can go for a walk with your partner in the morning, leaving early so that you can pick up your kids and play in the park)- they’re the ones who have it right. Offering a lunchtime yoga class while expecting employees to work 12 hour days is counterproductive at best!

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