During these uncertain times, it’s important to keep tabs on our wellbeing. Unfortunately, too many people sacrifice their wellbeing in the name of productivity or ambition. If we ignore our wellbeing long enough, our personal relationships, our leisure time and even our careers can be adversely affected. Indeed, there are plenty of workers nowadays who simply push through the work week without giving a second thought to their health.
To solve this issue, we need to first understand the importance of workplace wellness. Hopefully, by discussing its benefits, workers will start to realise how workplace wellness can improve their professional lives in the long run. Also, by giving actionable advice, perhaps more people will be more willing to make changes in their work lives. Such advice could involve improving their work environment, communication skills or simply their diet.
So let’s have a look at the importance of wellbeing, as well as a few tips on how to improve on it.
What do we mean by wellbeing?
When you hear the word wellbeing, the first thing that probably comes to mind is physical health. While your physical body plays a major part in how you feel, it’s only one part of the issue. Wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy. From this, we can say that wellbeing involves our physical health, mental health, and emotional health.
Your physical health involves your calorie intake, the cleanliness of your diet and how much you exercise, among other things. Physical health can also involve your immediate environment and whether or not it’s safe.
Emotional health is technically a part of our mental wellbeing. However, since it’s a complicated issue on its own, it is often discussed separately. Emotional health might involve social relationships, self-esteem and our sense of belonging. For some, it might also involve spiritual wellness. In this context, mental health mainly involves our cognition. Our cognitive health refers our ability to learn, our intuition and our judgment
To improve our wellbeing, it’s essential that we accept and understand the components discussed above. Ignoring even one of these components can lead to the deterioration of the others.
Why workplace wellness is important?
So, how does wellbeing affect performance in the workplace?
Regardless of how experienced you are in your job, poor health can significantly affect your productivity. This reduced productivity can then cause your wellbeing to deteriorate even further, and the cycle continues.
Studies have found that untreated health issues in workers can lead to reduced quality of work, high error rates and organisational problems. Additionally, poor health can also lead to increased absenteeism. The Australian Human Rights Commission reports that 3.2 workdays per employee are lost each year due to workplace stress. Healthdirect Australia even states that Australian businesses lose around $10 billion dollars in lost productivity and sick days every year. Thus, it’s reasonable to argue that the wellbeing of employees affects businesses at both micro and macro levels.
In contrast, healthier employees are said to have clearer thinking patterns, are able to come up with innovative ideas, and are more able to endure stressful situations. In fact, according to a study from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, employees who report themselves to be happy are 13% more productive at work.
Additionally, having employees that are healthier and happier can also lead to better team morale. This, in turn, can strengthen professional relationships.
Because of this, it’s essential that businesses implement workplace wellness programs and initiatives. By creating a working environment that is conducive to a healthier work life, you’ll be helping the workers and the business as a whole.
Tips for encouraging workplace wellness
If you’re struggling to find methods of improving workplace wellness, here are a few changes that you can implement.
- Create a productive environment
Unfortunately, most traditional offices aren’t designed to help us improve our wellbeing. Office partitions cut us off from colleagues and the natural environment. Additionally, fluorescent lights disrupt our circadian rhythms and sitting at a desk all day can cause musculoskeletal problems.
To counteract these effects, try experimenting with an open-plan office space. An open space allows the workers to connect with each other and build stronger relationships. Additionally, the flow of natural light can improve the workers’ moods and energy levels.
Another thing that you can do is to create a collaborative workspace. This could be a round table where employees can sit together to discuss projects. It can even be a set of bean bags where they can relax and take a break from those rigid office chairs.
- Encourage transparency and communication
Communication is a huge part of being happy at work. If you don’t communicate your thoughts, ideas and feelings with your colleagues, you’re going to find it hard to connect with them. Of course, professional boundaries will need to be set. However, if you completely shut yourself off from the rest of the office, it can lead to feelings of isolation.
If you’re in a leadership role, it’s important to let your team know that it’s okay to speak their minds. If something bothers them, they should be comfortable enough to talk about it. In some cases, you may have to start the conversation yourself and begin to build trust.
- Encourage physical activity
If your business has the budget for it, you could consider providing on-site facilities that promote physical activities. This could be gyms, walk paths or even a space for yoga classes.
However, most medium to small-sized businesses simply don’t have the resources to provide such things for their employees. Instead, they should consider alternatives like providing discount memberships to the local gym, having a rewards system that encourages biking to work or having friendly sporting events.
- Provide healthy snacks
For convenience’s sake, a lot of workers might eat unhealthy foods throughout the day. Fast food and convenience store snacks are very popular among workers.
To counteract this, a business could provide healthier snacks in the workplace. For example, making fruits easily accessible might encourage workers to eat healthier.
If you feel that your physical and mental health is suffering from too much stress at the workplace, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. Though the work that you’re doing might seem more urgent in the moment, our health is paramount. Without it, we won’t be able to perform at our best. Hopefully, this blog gives you a better understanding of what our wellbeing is and how you can improve on it.