What is workplace wellness?

Workplace wellness has expanded beyond just a specific program or policy. As per The Wellness Movementopens in new tab, workplace wellness takes a comprehensive approach and should be included in everything you do as an organization from daily operations to long-term strategy. Workplace wellness is a key component in developing an engaged and productive workplace where the overall goal of your organization is to embrace the health and well-being of your employees.

The concept of workplace wellness is for everyone and can mean different things for each individual. Workplace wellness helps employees understand the importance of their own well-being and equip them to make healthier lifestyle choices. It can also make employees feel appreciated and confident at work. If employees are sick, burnt out, and/or feeling isolated, they may struggle to thrive. Some signs that could indicate an imbalance in workplace wellness are:

  • Working outside the expected business hours, such as at night or on weekends.
  • Not disconnecting from work emails and messages while on vacation.
  • Having difficulty sleeping and relaxing due to work matters.
  • Feeling overwhelmed at work and unable to spend time on activities outside of work.

Employees may pursue workplace wellness by:

  • Making time for movement and/or fitness activities during the workday
  • Setting expectations and negotiating longer lead times around deadlines.
  • Taking breaks or lunch and allocated vacation time.
  • Creating a buffer between work and personal time.
  • Developing healthy habits such as mindfulness.
  • Giving a compliment to a coworker to brighten their day can help maintain a positive mindset.
  • Taking deep breaths at your desk or in the washroom if privacy is needed to calm down.
  • Adjusting the workstation to change your posture after sitting in front of a computer a lot or request support to do so if required.
  • Instituting walk and talk meetings for one-on-ones to increase physical activity if possible.
  • Adding office plants to improve indoor air quality and enhance overall well-being.
  • Following the 20-20-20 vision ruleopens in new tab (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to give the eyes a break.
  • Taking a moment to reflect on the achievements of the day before turning off the computer.

Developing and maintaining a culture of workplace wellness should be a proactive approach for organizations to promote health and well-being. You should not approach workplace wellness in a top-down way exclusively. Instead, spend time understanding the views and preferences of your employees. Active involvement from managers to develop compassion and trust among employees can improve workplace wellness, such as:

  • Being available and willing to take the time to reach out to others.
  • Listening and asking questions that allow individuals to express themselves.
  • Learning how to best accommodate people balancing challenges at work and home.
  • Encouraging employees to practice self-care and enable healthy behaviours by setting good examples.
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