Workplace Wellness

by Liggy Webb

Introduction

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
  • A significant contribution to nationwide health.

The key approach that is recommended to achieve these outcomes is to aim for the following objectives when implementing a programme:

  • Develop a positive ‘can do’ attitude, so that individuals take personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing
  • Encourage a culture of change that embraces new healthy behaviours
  • Highlight the benefits of healthy eating and exercise
  • Ensure that communication is clear and effective within the organisation
  • Address any areas of conflict or communication breakdown
  • Provide information and support to help individuals to manage personal stress levels
  • Involve people in promoting a happy and healthy working environment
  • Ensure that the carbon footprint is reduced and waste is minimised
  • Support individuals in setting goals and maintaining healthy new behaviours

Three approaches

A conceptual model for wellness includes three main types of interventions:

  1. Health and safety: these interventions are driven by government policy initiatives and shaped by statutory requirements (for more, see the topic on Health and Safety)
  2. Management of ill health: these interventions focus predominantly on ‘reactive interventions’ and include occupational health, rehabilitation, long-term disability management, return-to-work schemes and absence management programmes (for more, see the topics on Attendance Management, Disability and Psychological Health at Work).
  3. Prevention and promotion: there is a range of interventions that could fall under the prevention and promotion banner, including health promotion activities, work/life balance, stress management, time management schemes and primary care management.

As the first two are covered elsewhere in this resource, the focus of this topic is on the third element, but the holistic approach involves addressing all aspects of wellbeing, including physical, mental and environmental health.