In the latest few years, the term “wellness” has been used so much that it has almost a buzzword. This does not take away from the importance of wellness and the good it can do. Workplace wellness continues to be an important issue that has the potential to make a difference in the fast-paced world we live in. Not all wellness programs work as well as they could, but with focus and engagement, this can change.
Defining Wellness and Its Importance
Wellness can loosely be defined as a complete state of good health, and it encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. Workplace wellness programs began to evolve into what they are today from as early as the 1970s. In past years, companies have focused more on physical health. Sick leave and health insurance have long been catered for and covered, but with changing times, the focus has moved to a more holistic approach to health.
The world we live in is in a sense more complicated than it was before. While we are making significant advancements in technology, healthcare, and even service delivery, there is also a lot of pressure coming from different ends. While treatment for and prevention of physical illnesses has risen to impressive heights, there’s another trend that is alarming. According to the journal Psychiatric Services and many other studies, mental health issues are on the rise. Their study found that 3.4% of the U.S. population experience serious psychological distress (SPD) compared with 3% and less in previous years. This condition is exhibited as feelings of restlessness, worthlessness, and sadness.
The average working person spends a large proportion of their waking hours in the workplace. Many times this can be a highly stressful environment depending on the industry, the management, the company culture, and the kind of coworkers one has. With depression, anxiety, and other psychological conditions on the rise, the workplace must do more than add to the stress and pressure that people are experiencing, often unnoticed. Happier people are happier at work and perform better.
Aspects of a Great Wellness Program
Many top companies have impressive wellness programs in place. These have the aim of creating easy-going work environments and healthier and happier employees. Accenture, for example, understands the demands of the consulting industry. They offer their employees a round-the-clock hotline to speak to a physician as well as an incentivized fitness program. Time and budget restrictions aside, there are some important aspects that help to improve workplace wellness. Here are just a few of them.
• Exercise- Incorporating some form of exercise activities is an important way to get people involved, engaged, and healthier. Many of the other aspects of a wellness program may be more educational and mental, but exercise is a way to get practical and physical. Having various sporting activities and outdoor excursions also builds connections and social wellness.
• Prevention- A focus on disease prevention is important for a wellness program. This is covered further in the education and health assessments mentioned below.
• Health assessments- Health screening and health risk assessments help people stay on top of their health conditions. Many diseases and conditions reach an advanced level before there are major symptoms or any issues. Encouraging people to get screened for common conditions can help with early detection.
• Mental health awareness- Physical health is important, but a wellness program is not complete without also addressing mental health issues. These often go undetected when people are not confronted with the truth about these conditions.
• Education- Educating people about how to live a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating habits, weight management, the importance of breaks, stress relief, and other health and wellness issues is important. Knowledge and awareness are the first steps to getting people to take care of themselves and make better decisions for their own wellbeing.