Workplace Wellness

by Liggy Webb

Common questions

  1. My manager says we’re too busy to bother about this, how can I change their mind?
  2. What are the basics of a workplace wellness programme?
  3. Interfering with people’s lifestyle choices is none of my business, so what am I, as a manager, expected to do about it?
  4. I know what I should be doing, but how do I really go about changing my bad habits?
  5. Frankly, workplace wellness sounds great, but it’s just one more thing to worry about; shouldn’t I be concentrating on my real job?
  6. What has communication got to do with workplace wellness?
  7. Some members of my team are off sick with stress, what can I do to help matters?

 

1. My manager says we’re too busy to bother about a workplace wellness programme, how can I change their mind?

Introducing a Workplace Wellness programme into an organisation can return the following investment:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Alleviated employee stress
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Improved employee morale
  • Increased productivity
  • People remaining ‘in’ work
  • Less litigation
  • Reduced health insurance

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2. What are the basics of a workplace wellness programme?

It is important to have a defined structure to the programme, made up of a number of integrated key elements:

  • Programme Director
  • Stated goals/objectives that have been approved by management and are acceptable to employees
  • Endorsement by the management at all levels
  • Policy available to all staff
  • Participation should be voluntary
  • Continuing allocation of resources
  • Effective coordination with other health-related activities
  • Communication of programme details/goals/objectives throughout the organisation
  • Motivated and engaged employees who want to participate
  • A mechanism for feedback from participants in order to confirm the validity of the programme design and to test both the popularity and utility of particular programme activities
  • Procedures for maintaining the confidentiality of personal information
  • Updated records to keep track of activities, participation and outcomes as a basis for monitoring and evaluation of the programme
  • The analysis of relevant data to evaluate the programme.

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3. Interfering with people’s lifestyle choices is none of my business, so what am I, as a manager, expected to do about it?

Don’t worry that you, as a manager, are being expected to ‘interfere’ in the personal lifestyle choices (for example, diet and exercise) of people who work for you. This is not about interfering in people’s private lives and enforcing or imposing views or behaviours on people in a dictatorial manner. It is about raising the awareness of what people can do to take personal responsibility for themselves.

Once people have awareness that x causes y, they can then decide to ignore the knowledge or seek ways to prevent problems or address things they would like to improve. For example, you cannot tell people they can’t smoke, but you can raise awareness of the dangers, explain the benefits of not smoking for them and for their families, and support them if they decide to give up. In some organisations, you can offer incentives and rewards for making positive choices.

You can also help with providing details of the company wellness policy and programme, explain what is available to staff, give details of other motivational help groups, and provide support and encouragement.

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4. I know what I should be doing, but how do I really go about changing my bad habits?

If you have identified a risk to your health and want to change, there are several things you can do to reinforce that new healthy habit:

  • Identify exactly the specific habit that you would like to change
  • Challenge yourself and believe that you can do it
  • Make a list of all the benefits of breaking or adopting the habit
  • Set yourself up for success by taking immediate action to change
  • Tell people around you what you are trying to do
  • Don’t give up – failure is only a reality when you stop trying
  • Keep a record of your progress and results
  • Make sure you keep it up, even when you have succeeded
  • Be positive and open minded about change.

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5. Frankly, workplace wellness sounds great, but it’s just one more thing to worry about; shouldn’t I be concentrating on my real job?

It doesn’t sound as though you’re enjoying work. A major aspect of wellness is attitude, because mind and body work together. Here’s how to improve your attitude:

  • Take personal responsibility for everything you think, feel and do
  • Refuse the snooze on work days – get up and get going
  • Make sure that your internal voice is having a positive chat with you
  • Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are feeling good
  • Be positive when you respond to other people
  • Try not to infect others with your NAGs (Negative Attitude Germs)
  • Balance your internal and external referencing
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others
  • Be a radiator, not a drain
  • Slay the doom goblin
  • Feed your dinner table of emotions and positive thoughts
  • Turn problems into opportunities
  • Use SUMO – shut up and move on
  • Live each day how you would like to repeat it.

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6. What has communication got to do with workplace wellness?

Poor communication in the workplace can lead to a culture of bitching, back stabbing and blame, which in turn can also affect our stress levels, especially when we don’t understand something or feel that we have been misled. Good communication, on the other hand, can have a very positive effect on morale and motivate individuals to want to come into work and do a great job.

Positive communication is really important in the workplace in order to create a happy working environment. We all have responsibility for the way that we come into work – try to be the work radiator, not the drain.

It is very easy to blame everyone else and everything else for anything that you may feel. It is also easy for other people get on your nerves and wind you up, but only if you let them. However, if you take responsibility, and set a positive example, it will be step in the right direction towards working wonders with communication at work.

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7. Some members of my team are off sick with stress, what can I do to help matters?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards for Work-Related Stress represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health wellbeing and organisational performance. They cover the primary sources of stress at work:

  • Employees should indicate that they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs and systems should be in place locally to respond to any individual concerns
  • Employees should be able to have a say about the way they do their work and systems should be in place locally to respond to any individual concerns
  • Employees should receive adequate information and support from their colleagues and superiors
  • People should not be subjected to unacceptable behaviours (for example, bullying at work)
  • People should understand their role and responsibilities
  • Employees should indicate that the organisation engages them frequently when undergoing an organisational change and systems should be in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

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