Investing in Workplace Wellness is more than a ‘nice thing to do’ – it is sound business strategy! In fact, it is a “win-win-win”: a win for the employees (individuals), a win for the employers (organizations), and a win for the economy (community).
However, there are many definitions of “Workplace Wellness”. The type of Workplace Wellness I am talking about is based on “Whole-Life Wellness” – it considers the wholeness of the individual (addressing the 6 Dimensions of Wellness), and it flexes based on the individual’s life stage and circumstances. It acknowledges that employees are more than their roles, and must be treated as whole people in order to bring their best selves to work.
There is much discussion about the Return on Investment (ROI) of Workplace Wellness initiatives. While this is important, it can be misleading. Based on our current study of “Workplace Wellness Best Practices, Benefits, and Challenges”, local organizations reveal that they often don’t measure the ROI of their initiatives and programs – for a variety of reasons. In addition, at the 2013 Better Workplace Conference, the Conference Board of Canada (CBOC) reported that, while one-third of Canadian organizations measure impact to some degree, less than one percent measure ROI in a structured, rigorous way. If that is the case, how can we discuss the ROI and whether it is sufficient? How can we use that metric as an argument for or against such initiatives? Even in the absence of such data, however, the local organizations surveyed remain convinced of the many benefits of Workplace Wellness. And, incidentally, the CBOC reported a Canadian average ROI of 1.5 to 3.
Similarly, the expected value of Workplace Wellness can be underestimated because many initiatives are ‘one-offs’, or focused on only one or two aspects of wellness. In fact, most initiatives deal only with Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, or Stress Management. There is no doubt that these are significant factors, but they are only part of the puzzle. Evidence suggests that more holistic Workplace Wellness Programs have a much greater benefit for both the individuals and the organization. And the programs need to be appropriate to the organization and based on the needs of its specific workforce. This is where customization pays off.So, what are the specific benefits of Workplace Wellness for employees? They can expect greater energy, sense of purpose, better relationships – at home and at work, and greater integration of all the pieces of their lives. Therefore, they are more resourced, productive, resilient, and better able to seize new opportunities as they arise.
Finally, the economy benefits from Workplace Wellness: when the workforce thrives, businesses can thrive, thus leading to a thriving local economy. No longer do our youth need to move away to live an abundant life – it’s all right here!
Gail Godreau (MBA, CCP) is a Wellness Consultant, Coach and Speaker, and owner of Lighthouse Wellness Strategies. She is also a part of GHP's SmartBusiness Program. Her mission is “Helping Organizations THRIVE by Helping their People THRIVE!” through what she calls “Whole-Life Wellness”. Learn more at www.lighthousewellness.ca.