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Building a workplace wellness culture

Is building a “Workplace Wellness Culture” even possible when these are three separate and distinct entities of being?

Wellness, for instance, is defined as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. According to the World Health Organization “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Workplace, by contrast, is typically filled with the daily stressors and politics of combined social groups, various personality types, that by their very nature work in opposition to the state of optimum wellness.

And this is where Culture comes into play. The glue that binds. The creation of a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution, organization, beliefs, social forms, and material trails of racial, religious and social groups. Achieving this under the corporate umbrella is important, because, other than the home, the workplace is one of the most important social spaces in our day-to-day lives.

Understanding Workplace Wellness Culture isn’t simply a phrase to be bantered around, is it any wonder the last SONOFI survey outlined a significant knowledge gap between employer and employee expectations in this regard? While more than 54% of employees report having them, or someone in their family, suffering with a chronic disease, the employer “thinks” that less than 39% of the workforce are suffering. Added to this, employees utilizing three or more medications report being unhappy with their benefit plan because they can’t manage their disease and have lost quality of life. By contrast, more than 60% of employers are unwilling to increase benefits due to increased premium cost.

Ignoring the gap only leads to more absentee and eventual long-term disability claims. This happens when the employee can no longer work, because they cannot afford to pay for adequate health care on their own, topping up where the provincial plans and employer benefits cut back to conserve costs. And so, it is round and round the mulberry bush.

Communication, education, and messaging are key for all parties to get off the hamster wheel. Understanding the tax advantage of a benefit plan, verses paying out of pocket. Curbing back on the “wants” and covering the “needs” will streamline plans and ultimate save corporate dollars through a healthier workforce, less absenteeism, and more importantly reduced disability claims. Building benefits as a compensation, rather than continuing to slot them in the commodity column is necessary to achieve this end.

So why is building a Workplace Wellness Culture important?

  • Like attracts like…businesses want top talent to move the corporate strategies and goals to fruition, then a well-rounded culture will attract these people into the organization. 
  • Once you have the talent at the table…engage them for retention. Keep the communication ebbing and flowing to interact, cope, and change as required.
  • Building a workplace which sustains a satisfied, motivated, actively engaged in the organization’s success will promote that employee to then attract more to the team and hence a “culture” is created.
  • With the culture team self-sustaining, employee performance levels increase and the organization will out perform competitors.

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