Wellness Programmes: Look After the People, Who Look After the Business


In most modern-day workplaces, we're often reminded of the importance of looking after our people. Although the validity of "a happy workforce is a productive workforce" may be somewhat shaky, an unhappy workforce is undoubtedly unproductive. And so, to ensure our people are looked after, it is not uncommon for us to have wellness policies or programmes in place to ensure that the best interests and welfare of employees is taken care of.


The problem? Many of those currently utilised don't work or have an incredibly low return on interest (ROI). To fully understand how we can make the most of any wellness program, a little science can go a long way. But what IS wellness? Halbert L Dunn is the father of the wellness movement, describing wellness as something separate from simply good health - high level wellness is "a condition of change in which the individual moves forward, climbing toward a higher potential of functioning". So how can we go about achieving this in our workplace?


Firstly, wellness is broken down into 8 main categories. You can find out more about wellness here, but the dimensions currently given the most focus in terms of the workplace, are the emotional and social aspects - no surprise I'm sure when the importance of mental health and collaboration has become so prominent in the workplace. But what does this mean and how can we use this knowledge to improve the wellbeing of our staff and create a successful wellness policy?


It's important to know that there is a science to feeling good. Hard as it might be to imagine, those happy feelings we get are caused by chemicals our brain releases, some you may have heard of such as dopamine. Dopamine is great and makes us feel positive, helps with movement and makes us more attentive, but it's only short term. Serotonin for example is released when we feel important, maybe when we receive recognition or where we see our own personal goals aligned with those of the company. Similarly, oxytocin is a chemical with its basis in trust and love, released with the creation and fostering of personal connections and collaboration. Now that we know how to release these long term, positive wellbeing chemicals we can start to think about creating a workspace that encourages a practice of gratitude and focuses on networking and relationships.


Now, most workplaces would say that yes, they're well connected. We have meetings, everyone has company email, maybe even live chat. But just because we're connected doesn't mean we're connecting. We need to ensure that employees are given the opportunity to connect personally as well as professionally. Recent studies show the importance of positive connections in terms of our own mental and physical wellbeing, in fact those with lower, less valued connections are shown to suffer more than those who smoke or are obese. So we should be promoting and encouraging personal collaboration to help build towards a positive mentality; remember, as a leader it is YOUR responsibility to specifically choose to connect and lead by example.


Next time, I'll be providing you with a framework to help assess your current wellness protocols, as well as sharing a few ideas that won't break the bank and could give you that improved ROI you've been looking for. Until then, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch. Take care.  

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