What Does Workplace Wellness Really Mean?

Jane Cowan-Harris

Head of WorkSpace IQ
www.workspaceiq.co.nz

As a seasoned occupational therapist and enthusiastic workplace wellness advocate, I was pleased to see an article recently in the business section of our local paper about office wellness plans.

Always keen to read about wellness programmes in practice, I quickly did a double take as I scanned through the piece though, and realised it ran counter to my own viewpoint and professional experiences.

Based on US research, it stated that for people who are not interested in physical fitness, money is not enough of an incentive to get them involved in a wellness plan, and that it’s the already healthy people who are most likely to participate in a wellness plan, thus almost defeating the purpose.

Overall it concluded that workplace wellness plans are relatively ineffective. Having specialised in this field for more than 20 years, it only took a moment to figure out that their reasoning was missing some key pieces of the workplace wellness puzzle.

What disappointed me most about the article was its onedimensional approach; workplace wellness is about more than just offering physical fitness initiatives.

It’s about changing workplace culture so that people want to go to work. It’s about creating workplaces that are engaging and supportive, from the moment people walk in the door.

How do you create a well workplace?

  • Take a good look at your organisation’s values — what is important to the Board, the business owners/management and the people who work in your business at all levels
  •  Make it known that at all levels, good employee health – both physical and mental – is considered essential to the organisation, that it is valued and that there are ways to support this
  • Promote activities. Encourage people to bike to work and to leave their desk at lunchtimes, have walking meetings, and offer flexible work hours and places of work if people need them
  • Create a workplace which works physically (environment, space, lighting, adjustability for different people) for people and the work they do, and involve them when you are planning new work spaces
  • Have someone available for people to talk to if they have any health issues they are worried about.

Author: magazinestoday

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