The Importance of Workplace Wellness Programmes
Workplace wellness programmes have taken on a greater importance, not only in managing stress but also for attracting talent.
According to the 2018 Cigna 360° Well-Being Survey, half of all employees reported that don’t receive any support from their employer when reporting stress. The importance of these programmes need to be recognised by employees as 73% of Millennials report they influence job selection.
The survey illustrated that managing stress has become the number one employee benefit request in terms of insurance and has overtaken the more traditional benefits such as dental and vision care.
Employers can identify work related risks and can take preventive measures to help minimise the stress for most staff, stress may still affect some employees due to issues outside of the workplace. Training on stress management and how to spot it can be very useful for managers. However, some sign to be aware of are:
- Changes in the person’s usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues
- Changes in the standard of work or focus
- Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking and drinking alcohol
- An increase in sickness absence and/or being late for work
Best practices for improving health and wellbeing in the workplace
There is a strong body of evidence in published literature to support the development of workplace wellness and health promotion programmes. Approaches to improving the health of employees are effective in a number of areas:
Health promotion/wellness programmes:
These programmes are multicomponent and contain a number of elements looking at lifestyle issues e.g. physical activity, diet, smoking cessation etc) these are designed with participation from staff and supported by senior management. These appear to be the most effective in improving aspects of employees’ health – at least in the short term.
Mental health programmes:
The evidence is strong for interventions in the workplace that reduce stress. This is particularly true in relation to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and for moderate short-term interventions for those people who have an existing diagnosis of depression.
Back pain and musculoskeletal health:
Although there are a number of clear and promising interventions, the evidence for effectiveness does not appear particularly strong. This may be at least in part due to the challenge of measuring musculoskeletal outcomes.
The evidence supports holistic embedded organisational approaches to workplace health improvement.
There are some companies that have an extemporary approach to mental health in the workplace and have mental health champions and mental health first aiders. There is a growing awareness of the need to be open and talk about mental health. Management training for recognising and managing mental health is becoming increasingly common.
How companies can improve their workplace programmes
The World Health Organisation’s healthy workplace model9 shows eight processes, which include: mobilise; assemble; assess; prioritise; plan; do; evaluate; and improve. The model highlights how these interact with the key areas for action identified as:
- The physical work environment;
- Personal health resources;
- Enterprise community involvement;
- Psychosocial work environment.
This is underpinned by core principles of: ethics and values; leadership engagement, and worker involvement.