Invest in complete care for employees

Wellness in the workplace is a symbiotic effort between both the institution and employee. The workplace can provide a conductive culture in which both institutional and personal wellness is promoted. Personal wellness, in part, is a state in which the employee enjoys contributing to the advancement of the institution’s purposeful mission and fostering a positive work culture; the institution must establish the culture in which wellness can occur.

It is well understood that the institution’s ultimate purpose is to accomplish its mission and achieve its vision. A clear and compelling mission statement must be presented to the employee in a manner they will embrace it with enthusiasm as a valued partner. The employee must bring to the organization character, relational fit and a specialized competence that contributes to a productive and healthy workplace. The institution needs to have a sincere intent to promote the personal wellness of the employee and not be solely interested in the institution’s benefit. The investment in employees’ welfare provides returns in numerous ways including reduced absenteeism, less staff turnover, and a more positive, less stressful and pleasant work environment. This returns to the organization in added productivity and fulfillment of the mission.

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. (The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni 2012)

When considering the total wellness of the individual, it is essential to realize people are tripartite beings (body, mind, spirit) and each of these components needs to be healthy to have a completely healthy employee.

The role of the institution is to provide a platform that promotes physical wellness and facilities/programs that allow physical activity. These can include treadmill desks, discounted fitness memberships and wearable devices (e.g., Fitbit) that tracks steps per day, heart rate and caloric expenditure. Nutritional wellness can be encouraged by offering periodic evidenced-based health seminars, vending machines with healthy snacks, and incentives for attaining personal dietary and fitness goals.

The mental health of an employee is also crucial to attaining wellness for the organization. Mental wellness is evident by a person’s ability to enjoy life including the workplace as they experience being valued, acknowledged and rewarded as a team member committed to the company’s raison d’etre. Employees who are emotionally healthy bring a resilient, positive attitude to the workplace. The employee needs to be aware of their own mental and emotional state and the institution needs to have resources in place to help when emotional concerns arise. Other ingredients that foster a mentally healthy work environment are open, honest and timely two-way lines of communication among employees and between the administration. Employees should be encouraged to take time out for themselves as a stress break by taking a walk or closing the door to their office. A chronically stressful workplace has numerous negative consequences, such as, substance abuse, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and mental disorders, to name a few. A stressful work environment leads to contagious complaining and negative attitudes that are seriously detrimental to the workplace. On the flip side, mentally healthy employees add positively to the organization with a more productive and resilient attitude.

Spiritual well-being is also necessary to be a fully healthy person. It is important for each employee to be allowed to explore their own sense of meaning and purpose and to develop their own worldview, which encompasses values, morals and ethics. Spiritual wellness will be evident with the outward expression of compassion, forgiveness, altruism, love, joy and contentment. However, with that said, the organization and employees must recognize the reality that the workplace has become more diverse in its cultural, ethnic and worldview mix. Diversity, if managed properly, can add positive value to the workplace. It is important to understand and accept spiritual diversity if the workplace is going to be well and productive. Thus, the organization and employees must recognize and not neglect this delicate issue by providing a place for the expression of various worldviews.

In summary, organizational health trumps everything else in business (Lencioni). Therefore, institutional and employee health should be the highest priority for a business and its employees. This will require a clear, compelling mission and vision statement and a detailed action plan in order to achieve a productive and healthy organization and to track the outcomes.

By C. David Ianuzzo, PhD