Wellness in Your Organisation

Shane Bryan

As an employer our team members health and well-being is extremely important to us. There are various organisation that offer support to employers wishing to implement and instigate wellness programs in the workplace for example the Beyond Blue Organisations Heads Up Program www.headsup.org.au The first step in the implementation process is to identify ‘what does wellness look like in your organisation’.

The attached article supplies an insight into what ‘well’ means in today’s context and the components of a successful workplace ‘wellness’ program.

Chris Rabba, The Wellness Architects, in conjunction with Leap Performance

Wellness in Your Organisation

We often assess the health of an organisation financially, as we should. But we should also be measuring the health (in a broad sense) of one of its most valuable resources – its people. We too often underestimate the impact that an ‘unhealthy’ group of people can have on an organisation.

So what does a healthy (or an unhealthy) group of people look like? What does it mean to be ‘well’ in today’s context? The old definition of ‘absence of disease’ has fortunately been superseded by a more comprehensive definition. To ask someone ‘How are you? … Are you well?’ will receive a variety of responses that underpin one’s perception of ‘well’. Aspects such as being physically well, mentally well, socially well, well at work, financially well and even spiritually well, all form part of what it can mean. As the definition of wellness broadens, so too must our thinking when it comes to health and ‘health at work’. It needs to encompass and address the entire spectrum of an individual’s sense of well-being.

Workplace health represents the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work. This is achieved through a combination of improving the work organisation and the working environment, promoting the active participation of employees in health activities and encouraging personal development.

The workplace plays an important role in the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of employees. Employees spend approximately one third of their lives at work in Australia. Due to this, the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government has identified and recognised the importance of workplaces to individual health and well-being.

When developing a strategic framework for workplace health, the aim must be to understand and address the basic fundamental needs of the individual both physically and mentally, whilst creating a culture of care and an environment that is conducive to making healthy choices. At the end of the day it’s all about behavioural change.

The components of a successful workplace ‘wellness’ program are:
  1. The Targets … Addressing both the employee and the employer.
  2. The Wellness Quadrants … Physical: the physical health and well-being of the individual. Psychological: the mental health and well-being of the individual. Culture: policy, public commitment, management practices, work content and context, workplace culture, community involvement and strategy. Physical environment: the physical infrastructure to promote well-being in the workplace, such as onsite fitness facilities, bike racks, showers & change room facilities and break out rooms.
  3. Stages of Intervention … Prevention: Targets the ‘well’ and focuses on education and awareness to avoid risk. Proactive: Targets those deemed to be at risk. Reactive: Targets those identified with risk and enacts early intervention. Responsive: Risk mitigation and therefore treatment orientated. Support: Focuses on ongoing recovery and support.
  4. Engagement … The vitality of the initiative can simply be measured by the number of people taking part. Keys to maximise engagement are: Advocacy: senior management support & endorsement. Co-Creation: engaging employees and third party partners in the design of the initiative. Accessibility: removing barriers to participation. Transparency: no hidden agenda.Relevance: value for the individual. Appeal: attracts the masses. Awareness: effective marketing & communications. Satisfaction: feeds the participation cycle. Strategic: engaging those that would not normally take part.
  5. Behavioural Change … It’s not just about getting employee attention, but empowering them to act. Messenger: People are heavily influenced by who communicates the information. Incentives:Used to stimulate change – not the reason for change. Social Proofing: Making ‘healthy’ the norm. Defaults: Going with the flow of pre-set options. Salience: People are more likely to register stimuli that are novel, relevant, accessible and simple. Priming: Putting cues in place to support positive behaviours. Affect: Our emotional associations can powerfully shape our actions.Commitments: We seek to be consistent with our public promises and reciprocated acts. Ego: Reinforcement / recognition of achievement and the ‘feel good’ factor. Agency: Creating the capacity to make choices. Network: People are influenced by those with whom we exchange ideas and information … we are socially contagious. Collectivism: The benefits of cohesion and collectively working towards a common goal or idea. When embarking on a workplace wellness journey it is imperative to have your roadmap. Every organisation is different, so set the overall strategy and objectives of the initiative that are unique to your organisation’s needs and wants.

The design of the program needs to encompass a variety of elements that will positively influence engagement. Without your people taking part…you don’t have much of a program. Be creative, original in the topics covered, marketing mediums and delivery methodology.

Having a quantifiable predefined notion of success that is in line with the original set strategy and objectives is central to the evaluation process. And having an evaluation process is fundamental to reviewing the initiative in the first instance and contributing to the next iteration of the program moving forward.

The team at Green Taylor Partners can point you in the right direction to get you started.