Wellbeing is more than being physically healthy, eating right and getting in 10,000 steps a day. It also is not just for yoga instructors or meditation practitioners. Wellbeing occurs when all the body processes are functioning at their greatest levels, and who does not want that? When this happens immune systems function better, disease risk goes down, and productivity goes up. Recovery time is lessened and a culture of “giving back” is created. Every aspect of life influence’s wellbeing. Wellbeing is not the absence of illness or disease. Rather, a mixture of mental, physical, emotional, and social factors, which are linked to life contentment and joy.
You might be saying to yourself “this is all true, but what does wellbeing have to do with my job?” Research by Oxford University’s Business School found that happy workers are 13% more productive. They work faster by making more calls per hour and convert more calls to sales. The study also showed that happy workers did not work more hours than their less happy counterparts. Rather, they were more productive in their time at work. Studies in USA today and by Gallup also report that companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%. On the social side, employees with close work friendships had their employee satisfaction boosted by 50%. They were also seven times more likely to engage fully in their work if they had a close friend in the office.
So, what do all these statistics say about wellbeing in the workplace? Working towards wellness gives individuals balance and contentment. With over half of US workers reporting getting a sense of identity from their job (Pew Research Center) it is important companies incorporate fresh ideas in the workplace to keep employees engaged and challenged, but also valued. Personal wellbeing is a journey. It takes time, trial and error and commitment. The path to wellbeing will be specific to everyone and cannot be defined in a few paragraphs, or even books. There are several states of wellbeing and some simple steps to get started.
Physical wellbeing is where many people start, and where some stop. Running and activities that support cardiovascular health are among the most common forms of exercise in society today. School spots, mom’s stroller walking groups, and outdoor sports are accessible to almost everyone, and in many cases cost little to nothing to participate in. Being physically active allows us to get though the daily tasks with less fatigue and more energy. Its benefits have paid dividends and company’s HR departments are taking note. Christina Farr reported that “Employers across the country are handing out activity trackers by the thousands and creating corporate wellness to motivate employees to adopt healthier and more productive lifestyles.” As the recent participant in a corporate wellness walking challenge, and wearer of an Apple watch that is paid for by our insurance if we meet certain goals, I can officially say getting fit is fun. Having a little reward or motivation help does not hurt either.
Social wellbeing can make a good employee into a great employee. Speakap reports that 80% of employees responded affirmatively that company culture is important to them. Of those same employees, 57% also said they would take a job with a competitor if they felt the company’s culture were better than their current employers. With so much time and money going into new hire recruitment, employee training and retention it stands to reason promoting social wellbeing pays high dividends for employers.
As humans, we crave contact and connection with other people. Employers that still use the phrase “I am here to work, not make friends” need to take notice. A typical full-time job means spending 36-40 hours working each week. That does not include commute time. This adds up to more time than we spend at home with our families. Social connections make people healthier and happier, which, according to Forbes translates into work performance. Employees form strong relationships with one another and help build a successful workplace.
What can employers do to increase social wellbeing? Keep everyone updated and included in company progress, changes, and losses. Focus on staff achievements and contributions. Sponsor events like picnics, bowling or create a sports team. The team does not have to include just players. It can include snack makers, cheerleaders, schedulers and so on. Give staff the day off to attend a volunteer event. Have food drives, coat drives, and celebrate each other’s successes.
What is mentioned above are not all the paths to wellness, just a few to get you to start thinking in another direction. Since we are all here together shouldn’t, we make our time together satisfying and fun? We have all seen the jokes and memes about not wanting to go to work, calling in sick from the parking lot, etc. Personally, I think some are hilarious, and a little bit sad. No one wants to go somewhere they are unhappy every day. Life and work cannot be rainbows and unicorns every single day. But it can most days. For the days it is not, we have our work family to get us though.