The benefits of a workplace wellness program for employees and employers are many. For example:
- Greater productivity
- Reductions in work related ill-health and injuries
- Lower workers compensation costs
- A decrease in absenteeism and staff turnover
- Improving employee relations
- A healthier work environment
- Enhancing your corporate image
While many wellness programs stick to the traditional approach of focusing on physical health, according to Alan Kohll’s article for Forbes.com, “… employers that only emphasize physical health are missing out on a significant opportunity to positively impact their organization…this type of approach doesn’t account for all of the different elements of employee wellness…doesn’t recognize all the things that affect a person’s life and happiness.”
A well-developed wellness program should include components of wellness beyond physical health. According to the National Wellness Institute there are six dimensions of wellness.
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Understanding the different types of wellness can help you create, enhance, and promote wellness at work.
Physical wellness includes general health of the body and includes:
- Exercise and nutrition
- Health habits and preventative care
Employers can help employees with physical wellness by offering:
- Flu shots
- Nutrition education
- Healthy snacks
- Prepare and distribute a list of healthy dining options within a 2-mile radius of the worksite.
- Biometric testing
- Height/weight/body mass index
- Blood pressure
- Glucose levels
- Cholesterol levels
According to the National Institutes of Health, emotional wellness is, “… the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” Alan Kohll explains in his article, Is it Time to Rethink Your Employee Wellness Strategy, “Positive emotional wellness helps support a healthy mental state and well-being. This includes stress management, emotional intelligence and positive mental health habits (like meditation or mindfulness).”
Kohll goes on to say, when possible, include the following in your wellness program:
- Onsite meditation
- Mental health days
- Stress management programs
- Emotional/mental health education and resources
Employees without close or supportive relationships at work are more likely to feel disconnected from their jobs and that can affect their performance, according to Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health. “That’s the cost of loneliness and social disconnection,” Gruttadaro said. “There is a direct correlation between loneliness and productivity and absenteeism.”
Ideas to boost social wellness at work:
- Team outings and activities
- Book clubs
- Work celebrations
- Healthy potlucks
- Wellness challenges
- Creating social areas in the work space
Occupational Wellness is the feeling of purpose and productivity in your work and the ability to achieve a balance between work and leisure time, addressing workplace stress, and building relationships with co-workers.
Surveying workers, providing them with quality of life assessments, stress management techniques, and a greater sense of autonomy and flexibility (i.e. flexible schedules) can help your workers on their way to occupational wellness.
Spiritual wellness is described differently by each person, but the concept generally relates to one’s sense of purpose, life’s meaning, relationship to other people and self-awareness of these things. It also provides systems of faith, beliefs, values, ethics, principles and morals. It is not necessarily related to a person’s religious beliefs, but it can be.
Organizations can support spiritual wellness through:
- Bereavement programs
- Employee assistance programs
- Diversity programs and training
According to Vanderbilt University, intellectual Wellness is the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that can be applied to personal decisions, group interaction and community betterment. The desire to learn new concepts, improve skills and seek challenges in pursuit of lifelong learning contributes to our intellectual wellness.
When possible, encourage workers to be creative, take time to try new things, use their vacation so they can explore and recharge. Provide training on subjects that are work-related to help workers expand their knowledge and have the chance for professional growth and advancement. Bring in speakers on timely and interesting topics – don’t forget to ask your employees what they’d like to learn about.