For most of us, work is a central part of our lives, health and wellbeing. Whether we enjoy our jobs, have time consuming careers or are aiming for one. Work and everything associated with it is one of the most dominant areas of our life. Not only that but it’s inextricably linked with our health. So what’s new about our approach in 2019?
When it comes to anything health and wellbeing orientated we’re big fans of the big picture and the long game. Historically, wellbeing in the workplace didn’t exist. It was something that you did on your own time. In more recent years, with the charge lead by forward thinking leaders and startups, the productivity and staff retention benefits have lead companies to start taking employee wellbeing more seriously. We are all realising that the workplace has a role to play in that.
In 2019 we’re starting to see that trend extending further however. We’re beginning to see the seeds of something even more meaningful take hold. That’s truly exciting.
It should be abundantly obvious, but health and wellbeing isn’t impacted by just one thing. It’s not going for a run three times a week or eating your greens. Neither is it about approaching your bank statement or an influx of Monday morning emails in a state of mindfulness. It’s a million and one interconnected little things that you do throughout the days, weeks, months and years. Although it does include exercise, mindfulness and eating your greens.
When Apple released their ‘best of 2018’ in December, it listed self-care as the trend of the year, anticipating it would continue into 2019. This phrase, ‘self-care’ is fast becoming the January buzzword. While it could quickly turn meaningless, taken in its most positive form it’s a really lovely way to talk about looking after yourself. That’s because it embodies a more rounded approach rather than a self-flagellating one.
Within the mindset of self-care we’re beginning to see offices not just implementing programmes, facilities and opportunities to improve workplace wellbeing. They’re creating a culture that facilitates wellbeing as well. This attitude change is fundamental to making workplace wellbeing more than just a box checking exercise.
To explain, an article on Forbes recently cited a study on the Harvard Business Review, saying: “wellness programs don’t work unless you create a culture in which it is acceptable and encouraged to prioritize self-care. When you do, however, the results are profound. Self-care can help prevent burnout from work, help manage stress, and boost feelings of self-worth and confidence.”
A recent Gallup survey reported that a whopping “44% of employees reported feelings of burnout at work”, across industries. So it really is much more than a recruitment perk for companies to look at their approach to employee wellbeing.
Really highlighting that wellness is about more than getting your heart pumping, there has also been a spike in the access provided to financial wellness programs. Money play a huge role in stress levels, and there is an ever widening gap between salaries and cost of living leading to distressing decision making and anxieties. Financial health is an ever trickier thing to achieve. In July 2018 for example, The Independent wrote: “more than half of homeless families across England are in work but soaring rent and a lack of social housing is pushing more households into temporary accommodation.”
That trend may well explain why Corporate Insight’s 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Survey found 14% of employees had access to programs or resources provided by their employer to help them improve their financial well-being. The survey found 63% of workers with access to financial wellness resources used them. The 53% who did not have access to a financial wellness plan said they thought their employer should offer one.
Essentially, we all need help. The downside is that that situation has occurred. The positive side is that businesses are beginning to realise that they have a role to play in offering help and support.
Two things are really emerging from the changing approach to corporate wellness. Firstly, healthy habits, a little and often make a big difference. This mindset moves us away from the culture of crash diets, extreme detoxes and punishing exercise routines. The second thing is that we’re beginning to acknowledge none of us can really achieve optimum ‘health’ alone.
To maintain good wellbeing we need the support of our employers, our colleagues, families and friends. We need understanding and ways in which wellbeing as part of our daily lives is facilitated.
With work being so dominant in our lives, it is little wonder that we’ve been crying out for a more understanding approach from our places of work. It is also no real surprise, when we think about it, that the companies who have listened to employees find themselves the beneficiaries of people who are happier, more productive and have more loyalty to their jobs.
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