The importance of well-being at work has shifted increasingly to the forefront since the pandemic began. Now, with many workplaces still adapting to the “new normal” – in which everything from how colleagues interact to the way ideas are generated to company culture has drastically changed – is it time for employee well-being to take center stage in business?
Founder of CEO Wellness Club and certified brain health and wellness coach Candy Calderon and workplace wellness consultant and founder of Fit City Project Jordan Cieciwa say yes. Check out their expert insight into how to better incorporate wellness into your business and boost your team's effectiveness, balance, and innovation while you’re at it.
What Does “Workplace Wellness” Mean?
We’ve all gotten a lot better at thinking about personal well-being in a holistic way in recent years, but the same rules are much less often applied to the workplace. To draw a clearer picture of workplace wellness, though, it can help.
“It’s imperative to consider not only physical health, but also the emotional and mental well-being of employees,” Calderon says. “Small-business owners should be asking themselves questions such as: Is my organization safe? Does my workforce have access to health care, opportunities for personal and professional growth, a positive work culture, and a good work-life balance?”
Wellness in the workplace is about so much more than simply offering a membership to the nearest gym or healthy food options in the cafeteria.
—Candy Calderon, founder, CEO Wellness Club
Cieciwa believes that for too long, humans have been moving forward at the cost of our overall health. “To be able to work and be encouraged to care for our health at the same time is where the world needs to be – after all, the most important resource at a workplace is the humans who do the work,” he says.
Is Wellness in the Workplace at an All-Time Low?
Not necessarily, reflects Calderon. “There are layers to this question. As a wellness expert delivering in-house wellness programs, I get to see how much things have improved over the past few years. But what I do still see is that unless pushed to address concerns such as toxic work environments, harassment, racism, and sexism, organizations too often play it safe in their response instead of looking deeper into implementing a more well-rounded internal wellness practice to support employees.
“Wellness in the workplace is about so much more than simply offering a membership to the nearest gym or healthy food options in the cafeteria,” she adds.
Why Is Health and Well-Being Important in the Workplace?
There is evidence showing that the culture of a workplace is as important – if not more important – than the pay staff receive. “Healthy staff are productive, there’s no question about it,” Cieciwa says. “True productivity isn’t mandated; it’s achieved through staff who want to succeed. Caring for someone builds a relationship and sets the overall tone for the culture in a workplace.”
Calderon also believes this to be the backbone of every organization. “An employee who doesn’t feel their well-being is prioritized is one who will rarely perform efficiently or collaborate effectively. This means that making the well-being of employees a priority is a win-win.” she says.
Better workplace well-being can help to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and attrition, and even lower health-care costs – all things that can be even more important for small businesses with smaller workforces.
How Can Small-Business Owners Prioritize Employee Well-Being?
Make sure you have clear and balanced wellness practices that are an established part of your standard operating procedure, and reinforce them even when it’s uncomfortable or when it challenges any pre-existing beliefs or biases.
“Wellness practices written on a piece of paper that are not consistently actuated, enriched, and revisited when needed are a waste of time and a disservice to the workforce,” Calderon says.
What doesn’t work is a one-size-fits-all offering, Cieciwa says. “A ‘cookie cutter’ approach that only supports your healthy employees with things they already do can push employees who need help away. Most successful workplace wellness programs offer resources for the entire team, as well as having an open-door policy to help those who need extra support feel comfortable asking for it,” he says.
How Do You Look After Your Own Well-Being to Stay Balanced and Focused at Work?
Calderon listens to her body, always making sure she eats well and gets plenty of rest. “As a small-business owner running a busy wellness organization, you can imagine how important it is for me to lead by example,” she says. “I can't pour from an empty cup, so I make sure I prioritize myself and stay tuned into the cues that my body gives me. My non-negotiables are 6-7 hours of sleep (preferably 8!), feeding my body with nutritious foods, proper hydration in support of my demanding lifestyle, daily intentional movement, and physical exercise to help keep my body and brain sharp.”
For Cieciwa, it’s focusing on the health of his whole family that keeps him grounded. “I do regular marriage counseling with my wife to ensure we’re communicating and addressing stress as it comes up. It’s invaluable and covered by my wife’s benefit plan,” he says. “I’m also fortunate enough to love what I do. My job is to encourage people to prioritize their health and utilize benefits at work, and so naturally this is something I also practice. My health and my family always come first – once you see how important this prioritization and communication is in your personal life, you’ll be sure to implement it everywhere,” he says.