I’ve written about the importance of welcoming members of underrepresented groups into the workplace. One of the key ways to support diverse employees is through wellness. Supporting wellness in all its facets matters for all employees. That’s aligned with valuing stakeholders, by the way. In this article, I’ll describe eight components of wellness and explain why they matter for your workforce.
Changing Misconceptions About Wellness
This research on the dimensions of wellness might surprise you at first. After all, we commonly think of wellness as a synonym for physical fitness. That means you probably associate it with eating well or exercising during breaks. However, there’s much more to this concept. And I’m not just talking about also getting good sleep. According to the research, wellness refers to a dynamic way of life. It’s not stable. Instead, it’s a measure of how close you feel to being your best self. You can get closer at any time by focusing on this area of your life.
Wellness also isn’t just an intangible goal. It’s the sum of a whole bunch of habits. I’ve written a couple blogs on this subject. In this blog, I focused on what kinds of habits serve you, and which ones harm you. I listed a whole bunch of small habits you can implement to get and stay well. I also wrote this blog about how to change habits. It’s not easy, but you can use any of the strategies I listed to get started.
What Else Matters
So what else contributes to wellness besides physical health? You might think of emotional health. This is about how well you know and manage your own feelings. I wrote about how love affects productivity a while back. This aspect of wellness is also related to your ability to respond to others’ feelings. Feeling positive about life is another key component. How about social wellness? That’s all about maintaining healthy relationships. For this dimension, you’ll want to keep gratitude and humor handy. Plus, when companies invest in Corporate Social Responsibility, employees enjoy giving back to their communities.
Then there are some dimensions of wellness you might not be familiar with. For instance, wellness can be intellectual. People who are intellectually well maintain curiosity. That’s a lesson we can learn from little ones. We’re never too old to keep exploring! This dimension is also about adopting a growth mindset to respond positively to challenges. Finally, it requires lifelong learning, which is easier to pursue when you set goals around it. Another dimension is spirituality. This isn’t the same thing as religion. Instead, feeling spiritually well means finding meaning in life. It’s also about participating in activities that are consistent with your values.
Finally, there are some dimensions of wellness that might seem really unconventional. It can be vocational, or related to work. You maximize this dimension by engaging in work that aligns with your goals and values. It’s best if you feel that your unique skills and talents are useful to your work. Be sure your manager is aware of your skill set. This way, they can delegate tasks that help you develop vocationally. Financial wellness is also important and refers to the resources and knowledge you have access to. Lastly, there’s environmental wellness. That’s about contributing to a healthy planet. Employees can grow in this dimension by working for companies that invest in sustainability.
What Workplaces Can Do
Given all those dimensions of wellness, there’s lots an organization can do to support its employees. This Forbes article compiles suggestions from HR executives in the Forbes Human Resources Council. For physical health, corporate fitness subsidies can give employees some extra resources to get fit. These might go towards a gym membership, a bike, or a yoga class. For an untraditional offering, consider massages! In terms of emotional wellbeing, it’s great for employees to have access to an Employee Assistance Program. This resource provides counseling for a range of issues, including stress and grief.
The ideas I’ve listed above are mainstream, but organizations can also address the oft-forgotten dimensions of wellness. For employees’ social needs, organizations can improve their leave policies. I just wrote a blog about the value of parental leave. Giving employees time off means time they can spend with family, friends, and the community. By the way, as I mentioned above, working for an organization that practices Corporate Social Responsibility is great too. To support vocational wellbeing, managers should follow best practices for open communication. This will help them support employees to use their talents in pursuit of their goals. For financial programming, organizations can offer classes about investment, budgeting, and related skills. Matching retirement fund contributions counts too! And finally, as I highlighted earlier, environmental wellness flourishes in organizations that value sustainability.
Why Employee Wellness Is Good for the Employer
Although there are lots of ways to support wellness, it might not seem obvious why this benefits employers. Fortunately, the reasoning is coming into sharper focus in the wake of the pandemic. This Forbes article explains why. Supporting employee wellbeing is becoming a popular strategic focus for organizations looking to retain top talent. As this article from last week indicates, the Great Resignation is continuing to sweep the country. Employees feel empowered to look for work that helps them meet their own goals. For employers looking to hire top talent, that provides incentive to focus on wellness.
There’s another reason this matters. Especially for those in helping professions, the threat of burnout is constant. These professionals have to practice self care in order to continue their work. As the saying goes, you can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty. Even if you’re not helping others directly in your job, this rings true. Employees have to stay well to do well. Wellness matters for productivity, as so many of my previous blogs have underscored.
Lastly, wellness connects directly to my earlier blog about hiring for diversity. This HBR article explains the link. Basically, groups that are underrepresented in the workplace often face unique challenges in staying well. They may not have access to great insurance. Some groups are at higher risk for psychological disorders like depression and anxiety. They may be less likely to have savings to fall back on. They’re also likely to have a harder time finding a community of people who “get it.” For all these reasons, some of the groups I’ve discussed deserve special attention when it comes to wellness programming.
That being said, the eight dimensions of wellness are the same for all of us. Now that you know them, you can start making changes. If you’re a leader at an organization, you can support employees with new or improved benefits. And if you’re an employee, you can start investing in yourself. This will help you become the best professional you can be!