Wednesday, 19th February, 2020

Courier Article

Wellbeing in the workplace

Over our working lives we could spend 80,000 plus hours at work!!!

So, it is important to recognise the impact of our work on our mental health and wellbeing. If you are spending your time desperately waiting for 5pm and Fridays to come around you may feel trapped and miserable, especially when Monday’s approaching. So maybe it’s time for change!!

It is pleasing to see New Zealand businesses realising the importance of wellbeing and the examples included of good practice are drawn from both formal and sophisticated policies and procedures in large organisations to family focused philosophies and simple applications in the smaller businesses.  Everyone benefits when there is a happy and healthy working environment and the ground swell of interest stems from employers recognizing the impact it has on an organisation. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case so small steps in the right direction is the place to start and this can be a useful suggestion to your boss or team leader.

Our employees are not just employees, they are our communities; they are parents, neighbours, brothers and sisters, volunteers etc. and fulfill a raft of key roles in our society. So, if we can make our workplaces healthier, we can also make our communities healthier.

Healthier and happier employees are more productive, this is an undisputed fact. When we eat better and exercise more, we are usually less tired and find it much easier to focus better and for longer. In fact, unhealthy lifestyles are correlated to unproductive workplace habits.

Wellbeing and a work life balance is also key to employee retention and while South Canterbury has such an extremely low unemployment rate and many businesses are citing shortage of both skilled and unskilled staff as one of the main impediments to growth. Employee attraction and retention becomes even more critical. In a recent Deloitte study, work life balance was the number one factor millennials considered when evaluating job opportunities, even higher than career progression!

So, what are the keys to wellbeing in the workplace. These include physical, social, personal and practical measures. From enabling an effective and inclusive work culture, flexible working hours, healthy eating, exercise and gym memberships, providing a work e-bike, ergonomic working environments, workplace projects, health schemes, social clubs, a ready supply of fruit for snacking on and a raft of other initiatives. Its about implementing what will work at your place.

The other element to happiness in the workplace is a feeling of self-worth, that employees are valued for their skill and ability. For many employees the degree of autonomy they have over their job directly correlates to their motivation and job satisfaction and ultimately to the success of the business. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that many of us learnt at school supports the idea that once our basic needs are met, we seek positive self actualisation and self esteem and this can be related to both our private and working lives.

Attention to the health element in Health and Safety policies will bring just as many benefits as attention to safety. The Chamber has recognised wellbeing as an integral part of doing business and is now offering a range of options in this space from one-hour workshops on wellbeing to mix and match sessions on courageous conversations and workplace behaviour.  We have also secured Tim Bean to speak at our Innovate Business Conference in April on healthy body – healthy business, helping to drive the message home.

 So, the challenge is do you have a healthy working environment with wellbeing as a core element to how you deliver and run your business?  If not start to make change – think why you would like to implement a wellbeing programme, talk to your team, create a plan and implement the plan; above all keep it simple to start with.