By Vishal Nagda *
Most of us think if we are not sick, we are well. But Wellness is not just that – it is the state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as an actively pursued goal. This, of course, is the dictionary definition of wellness. But for the corporate world, the definition of wellness is continuously expanding. From having a common exercise place in office to having fit-bits on each employee’s hand with their own personalized fitness goals; we have come a long way.
The logic that one size fits all is gone. I may be physically fit but I may not be well emotionally. So, an exercise program is no use for me. Similarly, for someone else, their financial goals may be more important than being mentally fit. And for some others, health takes a back seat behind their career objectives.
With most of us spending more than 1/3rd of our active lives at the workplace, it makes sense that we incorporate all aspects of wellness in our corporate lives too. And this is the reason why more and more employers are focusing on expanding their offerings under wellness to cater to the varied needs of their employees.
The US Department of Health & Human Services defines 8 dimensions of wellness including emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual and environmental wellness. Here’s a brief of each dimension along with certain examples of wellness programs which are already being implemented somewhere in the world.
1. Emotional Wellness:
• Focus on coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships. Emotional wellness relates to understanding your feelings and coping effectively with stress. It is important to pay attention to self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner resources so you can learn and grow from experiences.
• Examples include: stress management programs; mental health support; parenting workshops; day care or crèche for kids at work; psychologist appointments; elder care options; relationship skills training; and grievance redressal mechanisms.
2. Financial Wellness
• Focus on: Satisfaction with current and future financial situations. Financial Wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health as well as academic performance. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety and fear for employees.
• Examples include: financial planning assistance; retirement planning; emergency loans; car lease options; home purchase assistance; and holiday saving schemes.
3. Social Wellness
• Focus on: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system. Social wellness helps you perform social roles effectively and comfortably, and create a support network. This dimension of wellness allows you to not only develop encouraging relationships with peers, but also intimate relationships with romantic partners.
• Examples include: social recognition; team based challenges; community platforms; digital habit trackers; sharing wellness goals; fun & game zones across the office; family days; appreciation day; and wellness walls.
4. Spiritual Wellness
• Focus on: Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life. Spiritual wellness allows you to develop a set of values that help you seek meaning and purpose. Spirituality can be represented in many ways, for example, through relaxation or religion. But being spiritually well means knowing which resources to use in order to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.
• Examples include: meditation; yoga; mindfulness practices; quick nap pods; soft music at work; laughter therapy; and virtual reality based experience stations.
5. Occupational Wellness
• Focus on: Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work. Occupational wellness is about enjoying your occupational endeavours and appreciating your contributions. This dimension of wellness encourages personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work.
• Examples include: individual development plans; options to choose flexible work options when required; career aspiration dialogues; encouraging more mid-day breaks; encouraging open communications; utilizing paid time off or annual leaves; and mentoring programs.
6. Physical Wellness
• Focus on: Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep and nutrition. Physical wellness relates to maintaining a healthy body and seeking care when needed. Physical health is attained through exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep and paying attention to the signs of illness and getting help when needed.
• Examples include: fitness challenges; nutrition advice; building better sleep habits; on-desk exercise breaks; weight loss competitions; smoking or alcohol cessation programs; stay hydration targets; spa sessions; head massages; healthy snack options; standing desks; ergonomic furniture & postures; participating in marathons; and walking meetings.
7. Intellectual Wellness
• Focus on: Recognizing creative abilities, and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills. Intellectual wellness involves having an open mind when you encounter new ideas and continuing to expand your knowledge. It encourages active participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities.
• Examples include: up-skilling opportunities; language learning; hobby or interest-based groups; collaborating on cross functional projects, subsidized courses; learn a sport; guest speakers; industry knowledge sharing programs; and sabbatical leaves.
8. Environmental Wellness
• Focus on: Good health by occupying a pleasant, stimulating environment that supports the well-being of all. Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. Everyone can have a strong environmental conscious simply by raising their awareness.
• Examples include: Recycling awareness; volunteering at an NGO of your choice; joy of giving week; clothes donation; tree planting, paid time off for volunteering; contributing to environmental causes; community welfare activities; and team CSR challenges.
Through social recognition, which includes posting, sharing, commenting and other virtual interactions, employees can help motivate each other to reach their wellness goals. Digital platforms like portals and mobile apps which are connected to new age fitness devices are already playing a major role in driving corporate wellness agendas today.
These platforms will also throw up a lot of wellness related data which was not available in the past. Smart analysis of this can help the Wellness Program managers to direct their efforts to the programs which have maximum takers and which provide maximum ROI.
Many health insurance companies today provide a free annual Health Risk Assessment (HRA) test. The data from this can be used effectively to plan the wellness programs which will actually impact your employees. You can couple your programs with targeted goal-based incentives which will lead to a definite improvement in overall health quotient of your employees.
If you are looking at designing an effective Wellness Program, here are certain tips:
- Have a clear goal;
- Get employee inputs;
- Choose your mission;
- Make your culture wellness-positive;
- Make it personal for each employee;
- Market your initiatives;
- Get leadership to lead & support;
- Celebrate and appreciate;
- Incentivize and reward.
And like any other initiative you take, you will be asked to prove to the management how successful your efforts were. So, make sure you are tracking your Measures of Success:
- Program Goal Metrics;
- Participation Rates;
- Engagement Surveys;
- Health Insurance Costs;
- Employee Retention;
- Employee Feedback;
In the end, I would like to reiterate that employee wellness is important and investing in your employees will surely help your whole team work better together.
* Vishal Nagda, General Manager-HR, Ozone Group & Founder – HR Professionals LinkedIn Group