I believe that the biggest advancement in the modern workforce is that well-being is the key to unlocking the potential of our most valuable asset–our people. It is our people who are the #1 most critical factor to our success–not technology, not automation and not process optimization. When we make our people the priority, all other business objectives fall into place. The most successful companies realize this, and this trend is taking hold among the employment market at large.
Well-being is far from a new concept. The practice of wellness can be traced back to 3000-1500 BC in various cultures throughout the world with the advent of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Greek and Roman societal cultures. In America, conversations about wellness began in the 1950s when companies were thinking about worker safety. Wellness at work has become such a hot topic because the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance has increased so rapidly. Rising health care costs have transformed wellness over the last decade to become a booming business industry on its own. Though we have known about the importance of well-being for thousands of years, somewhere along the way we’ve lost sight of its true purpose–to help people become the best versions of themselves.
If anything good could have possibly come from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that employers were jolted into understanding exactly why well-being is so important for their companies.
Pre-pandemic, we would hear wellness described as a fluffy human resource program that cannot be measured or have real impact on health outcomes. In fact when mentioning wellness, organizations would preach walking clubs, getting your biometrics screening, healthy eating guides, seeing your primary care physician, and the ever important smoking cessation program.
Fast forward through the throes of a pandemic and now companies not only understand, but acknowledge well-being is an imperative and multi-faceted. Today we realize the need to focus on the whole person if we want a healthy and productive workforce. Some areas where forwardthinking companies are focused are mental health, burnout, substance abuse, financial stress, spirituality, comorbidity management, flexible work, and healthy employeemanager relationships…just to name a few.
“Don’t Be Confused With Wellness Programs Of The Past And The Importance Of Modern Day Well-Being For The Entire Organization”
My definition of well-being is this: to be able to live your best life. It’s that simple. For me, it’s a balance between my mental, physical, and spiritual self.
The mental health crisis and growing burnout have exacerbated our world’s well-being. Society needs to understand the importance of our individual and collective well-being and begin to find our way back to making well-being central to our lives, both inside and outside of the workplace.
As leaders, this mindshift starts at the top. Create an environment of safe and open communication. Whatever you do, don’t guess and follow the trends you read about. As a leader, there are actions you can take right away. Lead with empathy, build trust with your people and respect them as individuals who have individual needs. This supports people’s mental health, which for many is significantly taxed due to their daily work environment. Make sure your people are taking time off from work. Be flexible so they can balance their work with their life obligations. Make sure they understand all of the supportive resources they have through their employer. Begin meetings with individual recognition for people who go the extra mile, or even small talk to cut tension and to help everyone to feel connected. These things, while they may seem little, go a long way to cultivate healthier, happy employees.
Wellness has clearly begun its transformation to well-being at work. There is no one size fits all approach that will tackle the complexity of one’s personal wellbeing. The fact is, life and work have always been intertwined. It took a pandemic to force employers to realize the hugely blurred lines between work life and personal life, and the great influence that physical and mental health can have on both. While a by-product of this reawakening has been a greater degree of attention on well-being, let us not forget why it is important. Our businesses are all about people, and we are not successful unless they are successful.
I am not sure about you, but I am more than excited to see where we go from here. Be well and live your best lifeBob.