Wellbeing in the Workplace

“Wellness is a multidimensional state of describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by the quality of life and a sense of wellbeing.”
-Charles B.Corbin of, Arizona State University

Wellbeing is a hot topic at the moment and Australia seems to be hot on the heels of the USA in terms of making wellbeing a priority, especially in the workplace. What is wellbeing? Is it real and tangible? and how can it really make a difference in the workplace? I know for many wellbeing is a word that conjures up images of hippies dancing around flower filled fields and isn’t yet taken very seriously.

Wellbeing for me has always been a serious topic and one that is close to my heart. I was born and grew up in London. I spent years being one of over 3 million people that commuted to work via the London Underground. Hey, I’m not complaining! In terms of getting you from A to B quickly and cheaply it’s fantastic.  One journey in particular really set my alarm bells ringing. Let’s just say the Northern Line and I became  firm friends over a 6 month period where I literally sat underground on a packed Tube for an hour and a half each direction every day… eek I hear you cry!

Those six months were enough to make me seriously rethink what was important and what kind of life I wanted to lead from then on. In those 6 months I was never well with colds, flu and just plain exhaustion from a combination of traveling and long hours at work. I had a ‘Ah-ha’ moment and made a stronger commitment to myself to change everything that was not supporting my personal wellbeing. I like to call this a ‘Wellbeing Inventory’.

My Wellbeing Inventory consisted of the following:

–  Removing any unnecessary stress

–  Making my health my number one priority

–  Having more time to myself

–  Creating more space in my life for spending time with family, friends and hobbies

A simple looking list of things to try and implement more effectively into my daily life? Well not quite. It was hard and it took commitment like every other project does.  Some parts were easy to put into practise like eating better, exercising more often. While areas took more effort, like looking for a new role where the commute was less and didn’t involve being squished between strangers on the tube.

What has all this got to do with my workplace? In the 6 months I spent enduring long commutes and suffering from repeated health problems. How much did that cost my employer in terms of absenteeism, presenteeism and loss of productivity? These issues really do have a direct economic cost on employers and recent research has shown that the implementation of wellbeing programs in the workplace considerably help reduces these costs.

The cost to the Economy and Organisations
(source: http://www.medibank.com.au/Client/Documents/Pdfs/The-Cost-of-Workplace-Stress.pdf)

  • $25.7  billion is lost from the economy annually
  • $10.11 billion is lost by employers annually

That equates to approximately 1.36% loss in labour productivity.  Although this doesn’t sound like much it is the equivalent to 6 million working days lost due to health and wellness issues. These statistics do not reflect additional hidden costs associated with health and wellness issues.

For example: An employee in a state of mental/physical distress may not deteriorate to a clinical state. It is only once a person reaches clinical state that there is any formal monitoring of their condition and their reintroduction into work.

Hidden costs to the workplace include re-staffing, re-skilling and recruitment as well as additional duties that are incurred by team members to compensate for the person not performing or being able to perform their role 100%. This in itself has a ripple effect on the team and can further induce wellbeing related issues.

My journey so far has guided me in the direction of studying Naturopathy part-time and this has allowed me the great opportunity to introduce some of the areas I am learning about at college to the work environment here at Be Learning. In June this year Be Learning – Wellbeing was born.  I thought it was a really important for us to have a Wellbeing Program and if there was a company that would commit to doing this well it is definitely us! Be Learning is based on very strong core values where innovation, collaboration and conversation are key. In order to keep us all happy, well and keep the creativity flowing it was obvious to me a Wellbeing Program and Advocate was needed.

Here at Be Learning we have implemented our own Wellbeing Program which includes:

  • Weekly Health and Wellbeing tips
  • Healthy snack options for the office
  • Stress & Relaxation Management
  • Team Building & Social Events
  • Flexible working options

Here’s what the Be Learning Team are saying about the Be Learning – Wellbeing Program:

“I never thought I’d look forward to a fruit bowl as I do in the office. I always read the weekly Health & Wellbeing Top Tips sheet Alisha puts on the fridge and as a result, floss a lot more because I’ve learnt that diseases can stem from gums.”  – Gina Zoia, Senior Consultant

“Bad eating habits have turned into new healthier ones here at work and at home, for me and the whole family”
Tony Sloman, Sales Director

“I don’t pay too much attention to my wellbeing but at work when you do something as a group. Whether its reiki or even just eating fruit..it is a great way to acquaint oneself with better ways of caring for oneself just by learning from what others are doing..and that’s what the well-being Programme at work does for me”
Deepti Sachdeva, Production Manager, Films & Digital

“Our Wellbeing Program at work has even encouraged one of our team to quit smoking…what a great result!”
Karissa Fletcher, Marketing Manager

Over the next few months we are making Wellbeing a focus at Be Learning and looking at ways we can build on our current program. The age old adage still rings true. Prevention is better than cure.

That is what wellbeing is all about, it’s about supporting yourself, your family and your team. It’s about keeping everyone healthy, happy and well.

Keep up to date online with Be Learning’s curated Scoop.it series on Wellbeing.