• Why Is Workplace Wellbeing so Important?

Why Is Workplace Wellbeing so Important?

I was first exposed to the idea of wellbeing 20 years ago by a somewhat progressive lawyer. They introduced me to concepts such as neuro-linguistic programming and mindfulness; the value of encouraging physical health in your team; and the intrinsic satisfaction of continuous improvement. I didn’t realise at the time just how progressive he was. The concepts introduced as “Employee Benefits” by this lawyer, are today considered vital to organisational performance. This was highlighted more than ever, during my attendance at the Think Tank Corporate Health and Wellbeing Summit, earlier this week.

This Summit highlighted an array of individuals, from neuroscientists and psychologists through to ex-CEOs of facebook and RBA Managers. Each speaker discussed the changing environment of employee engagement and the importance of nurturing a wellbeing culture. Employee engagement goes beyond completing a survey. Wellbeing, on the other hand, goes beyond providing just a fruit bowl. It needs to be attacked from a number of angles, driven by leaders, and given time to develop.

What, therefore, does a successful wellbeing program look like? For me, my take-home messages from the conference can be summarised into the following:

We only have one body, so take care of it!

As expected, exercise was a strong theme throughout the day. Dr Jenny Brockis developed 12 key aspects of higher productivity thinking, and one of these aspects is exercise. She stated, “exercise primes your brain for higher performance”. Pushing ourselves physically, helps us push ourselves mentally. Wellbeing programs must empower and encourage, employees to be physically active. Dr Jenny also mentioned the importance nutrition plays in the workplace. Gut health contributes to our energy levels, mental health and sleep. Which leads me to my next take-home message.

Our mind is continually stimulated, so rest it!

Every speaker touched on mental health needs to expand beyond traditional Employee Assistance Programs. There is a range of strategies available to assist staff with mental health. One-third of our population is sleep deprived, therefore educating staff on the importance of sleep will provide value. Breathing and mindfulness exercises can bring instant relief to an anxious or stressed team member. And positive psychology can provide value. Surprisingly, traditionally psychologists were only educated on negative emotions at the university. There is now, however, a shift to teach positive emotions as this prevents and promotes wellbeing, especially in the workplace.

We have an adaptable brain, so challenge it!

We like to be comfortable, but often we are happiest when we look back on challenging situations that we overcame. Neuroplasticity research shows we can break habits, but it takes persistence and practice. Just as athletes train to win races, we must also train to improve our brain, and in turn our wellbeing. Physical activity and mental health both contribute to brain health. The mere act of pushing ourselves to start a fitness program actually increases our mental wellbeing (it seems like a win-win!)

Workplace culture

In addition to the above, it is incredibly important organisations don’t simply drop wellbeing programs into their HR strategies without considering alignment with their values, policies and cultures. Your team may feel engaged initially, but for long-term value from the program, it needs to be embedded in the workplace culture.

Personally, I will continue following the philosophies of wellbeing in my life. For me professionally, I’m looking forward to encouraging and supporting our clients to do the same.

The biggest hurdle is starting, and I encourage everyone to start today!

Kylee Randall

Head of Consultancy & Special Projects

Kylee Randall has spent the last 17 years in roles focussed on developing high productivity, resilient cultures in corporations. She has successfully delivered complex projects that integrate technology and people. Kylee has witnessed the value wellbeing provides to organisations, striving to promote this mentality in all projects. Kylee’s qualifications include a business degree, Master of Business Administration (Sustainable Business) and she is currently studying a Post Graduate Diploma in IT.

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