Work is not typically seen as a safe haven for health. Fast-paced corporate environments have been proven to cause serious mental and physical health conditions, from carpal tunnel and increased anxiety to burnout and even heart disease.
For years, we have accepted that health had to be managed by the individual. However, mentalities around work-life balance and corporate responsibility have shifted over the past several years. The introduction of the chief wellness officer and the rise of corporate culture signify positive steps towards healthier workplaces, especially in terms of wellness and well-being.
At Gardenuity, we view wellness and well-being as two distinct categories that require two distinct approaches. Building these approaches into company culture not only creates jobs that people don’t want to leave, but they also give employees the space to take charge of their physical and mental health. Our co-founder and CEO, Donna Letier, put it best: “The best thing we can do for people [as business leaders] is to give them permission to invest in themselves.”
Here’s what we believe to be the difference between wellness and well-being at work–and how you can work towards them as either a leader or an employee.
Workplace Wellness vs. Well-Being
Wellness encompasses a person’s physical health. This can include physical activity, strength, immunity, and other medically tangible characteristics. In the workplace, wellness looks like providing educational resources about carpal tunnel syndrome, hosting an annual bike to work day or supplying gym memberships as part of an employee benefits package.
Alternatively, well-being is more fluid. To us, this category covers supporting mental health, fostering a peaceful work environment, providing non-judgemental resources for struggling employees and preventing burnout. In the modern office, this may look like a morning meditation series, unlimited paid time off, mental health assistance programs, and outdoor workspaces that provide a change of scenery.
What You Can Do
It would be pretty nice if your office supplied those things, right? We think so!
Whether you are a decision maker at the top of the hierarchy or support staff at the bottom of it, you have a voice in bringing wellness and well-being programs into your company. Use these ideas as a jumping off point for your conversation about workplace health.
As a Decision Maker
As a decision maker, you are in a great position to help create a healthy work environment that attracts and sustains employees. However, it is sometimes easier to talk about these things than to actually implement them (no one wants to end up coming off as the “Weight Loss” episodes of The Office).
If your company has never addressed wellness or well-being, now is the time to start. After such a momentous 18 months, you owe your employees the space and resources to help them take charge of their health. Implementing small changes over longer periods can help ease workers into the shift without coming off as preachy or perfunctory. Consider adding gym memberships to employee benefits packages, having HR compile an accessible list of mental health professionals covered by company insurance or setting up some tables outside at which anyone can work. Once the smaller changes have proved successful, consider appointing a chief wellness officer to up the efforts in a focused, genuine way.
As an Employee
Believe it or not, you have an influence in bringing wellness and well-being to your office. In a time where applicants have an advantage in the job market, your company should be seriously considering how to take care of its assets, and your voice is more important than ever.
Compile a list of programs that you would like to see implemented, starting at as little as fruit in the breakroom ranging to additional days of leave for mental health. If you are told there are not enough resources for changes, try suggesting free or low-cost programs such as a bike-to-work competition or a self-led meditation series.
Equally important is taking advantage of the programs that are available in your office. It is hard to justify the time and expense of health initiatives if no one is participating. Showing your face regularly at events lets higher-ups know that you are serious about workplace health and can lead to a dialogue about what you would like to see moving forward. Who knows–you might even be the next chief wellness officer.