Elevating from Workplace Wellness to Workplace Well-Being

From the desk of Joelle Monaco

When we think of workplace wellness, what comes to mind? If you’re like most individuals and organizations, your mind and programming go directly to the traditional ideas; walk programs, gym memberships, nutritional education, diabetes awareness, or smoking cessation programs. However, when we consider workplace well-being, there is much more to consider than that. Suppose we are ensuring inclusivity and the engagement of our entire workforce. In that case, it is essential to broaden our perception from wellness to well-being and how we support individuals in the workplace. As we wrap up June, National Employee Wellness Month, let’s explore how we can elevate programming to support our workforce. 

What is well-being, and how does it differ from wellness? Simply wellness is about a healthy lifestyle that typically refers to a state of physical health, inclusive of eating right, physical activity, and sleep. In comparison, well-being is a more holistic view and approach to prevention and health promotion. 

Let’s start with the why

Why workplace well-being, well why not? Organizations’ most significate asset is their workforce are their people. When individuals have resources to focus on their well-being, they experience higher levels of happiness and satisfaction, which ultimately increases organizational success. On average, adults spend at least 1/3 of their life in the workplace, so considering that we spend a significant amount of time there, it’s safe to say the workplace and its culture influences our wellness. Not to mention that individuals with increased well-being are almost twice as likely to be engaged and enjoy their work, according to Quantum Workplace.

Additionally, let’s not miss out on the organizational benefits of having a workforce that takes care of themselves and has their basic needs met. Harvard Business Review has reported that every $1 invested into employee well-being programs yielded $6 in health care savings. Considering direct and indirect expenses, organizations can experience impacts related to; health care costs, short and long-term disability, compensation claims, presenteeism, absenteeism, and talent attraction and development, to name a few. 

Creating Change

When you think of workplace well-being, consider the eight dimensions of wellness and the social determinates of health; in doing so, we can recognize the varying differences of our workforce and ensure programming meets various needs and wants. 

Initiatives that you can put into action today are financial education and resources, providing community resources, transportation education or options, accessible food options, housing support, caregiving resources, or stress management, to mention a few ideas. 

Moving Forward

No need to toss your current well-being plan out the window or feel overwhelmed with new programming to include; take a step back and ask your workforce what would they benefit from, need, and or enjoy? Create a questionnaire asking how individuals feel about the workplace and what current programs are beneficial. Additionally, you can provide some examples of new programs for the workforce to rank based on their interest and need. This will provide you with a general understanding of what is worth continuing and where to channel your future work and resources. 

Most important, don’t forget you don’t have to have all the answers or expertise; many community partners can support you in creating an inclusive workplace well-being program. 

Keep up the great work engaging individuals and teams of tomorrow,

Joelle M. Monaco


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