Promote staff 'wellness' and reap the rewards

May 29, 2008, 10:44 am Fiona Cosgrove KBB

Owners must take into account the negative impact when team members have poor health behaviours.

The concept of 'wellness' in business is big in the United States and is now taking off in Australia. It's hugely influential in making positive changes in the workplace – employers want their employees to be happy and healthy in their personal lives, because it has been well established that health and lifestyle has a huge effect on work productivity.

Today’s business owners must take into account the negative impact on the workplace when team members are stressed, overweight, negative thinkers, unhappy at home or generally have poor health behaviours.

It's all about wellness

The term wellness has been coined in the fitness industry to describe the mental and physical state of being fit, feeling good, having energy, and generally living life to the full. Wellness is related to lifestyle behaviours and habits such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, smoking, alcohol, and sleep patterns.

Benefits of wellness in your workplace
When employees are in control of their personal health and wellness, they have the confidence to excel in other areas of their lives – including their professional lives. When an employer recognises this fact and provides encouragement to the team to live well, the bottom line shows the results.

Employees value the benefits provided by business owners who show how much they care about their staff. Employers of choice promote the good health and work/life balance of their team, because “wellness” flows into the workplace through the way people communicate, how much they smile, how positive their attitude is, and how good they are to be around.

Having well people at work strengthens your business
People who are 'well' are happy and productive, have good relationships, and are engaged in meaningful lives. This has a positive effect on productivity and workplace relationships – and businesses are more likely to retain staff in this type of environment. Someone who exudes vitality and optimism will create higher sales, have better inter-client relationships, and people will enjoy working for or with them.

Our businesses are more than a place to produce and sell our product. They are a place where people spend a large majority of their lives and the atmosphere at work will be a result of the wellness and happiness levels of the people who work within them.

Incorporate wellness into your workplace
Four sources of energy need to be engaged for people to work (and live) optimally. Energy can be mental, physical, spiritual and emotional and all need to be at high levels if we are to work and live at our best. Physical energy is a combination of nutrition, exercise, stress management and the health choices we make. It is important to look at all these energy sources and check that our team is not lacking in any area. And if so, find out why and how it can be improved.

Business owners can set a good example with their own healthy habits, and by providing a workplace that is conducive to wellness. If employees’ values are the same as our employers, we will feel more in tune with our working environment and more likely to put in a great effort. Encourage staff to walk or run in their lunch breaks, or to cycle to work. Discourage take-aways and other unhealthy snacks – provide a fresh fruit bowl instead of a cookie jar. Keep live plants or flowers around the workplace to perk up the atmosphere.

Tips for business owners
Many business owners themselves aren’t living at an optimal level of wellness, which makes it difficult for them to pass the idea of wellness onto their staff. This is where a wellness coach is useful, but following are some quick tips for coaching yourself to wellness.
1.    Create a vision.
Where would you be if you were at your best? What changes would have to be made? How would your life look, what would you be doing, and what else might change? Why do you really want this change?
2.    Sit in the muck.
Learn from how you feel now. Feel the discomfort in being where you are and not where you want to be. What is it costing you to not change your situation? If you feel tired, unfit, and unhealthy because you aren’t active, this may be costing you a good relationship with your partner.  
3.    Learn how your goals can be achieved.
Identify the obstacles and decide what strategies could be put in place to overcome them.
What strengths do you have that can be used?
4.    Design a plan.
Set yourself monthly or three monthly behavioural goals. Where do you want to be? Break them down to weekly goals starting with this week. Make them easy steps that you feel confident at completing. Re-set goals at the end of each week. Keep checking your vision to remind yourself why you are doing this.