Success is guaranteed by a workforce that feels good

BY Archana Law

Are you eating right and exercising but still not feeling great? The answer may be that you need to improve your wellbeing. So what is the difference between wellness and wellbeing?

According to the WHO, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Wellbeing is a feel-good condition of existence a state that’s characterised by your health, happiness and prosperity as a result of deliberate efforts.

Research into the nexus between wellbeing and corporate performance continues to grow, and the findings look pretty conclusive e.g. low wellbeing results in higher absenteeism. A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development survey found mental ill health and stress to be the two main causes of long-term absence in UK workplaces and one of the reasons employees quit their jobs.

However, there’s mounting evidence that investment in wellbeing is producing results. A review by the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that counselling at work influences employees’ physical activity.

And research by Gallup concludes that already engaged employees experience even higher performance outcomes when physical wellness programming is added to the mix.

It’s no surprise then that businesses are beginning to focus on improving wellbeing through a range of innovative approaches.

While ‘happiness economics’ was developing, the field of positive psychology which is the scientific study of what makes humans flourish began emerging in the late 1990s. American psychologist Martin Seligman articulated a new paradigm to measure happiness known as the ‘Well-Being Theory.’

He identified five elements of happiness: positive emotion, which can only be assessed subjectively; engagement, which is the presence of a flow state when a person performing activities is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment; relationships that include friends, family, intimacy or social connection; meaning, or belonging to or serving something bigger than one’s self; and achievement that translates into accomplishment.

Here are some ways that organisations are investing in and succeeding with fostering employee wellbeing.

SUPPORT At Next Jump, which is an e-commerce company, help is offered in all aspects of health and fitness including managing energy, nutrition and mental health. Psychological and emotional coaching programmes are also on offer with an emphasis on being the best you can be.

THERAPY Buffer is a social media company that encourages its employees to be authentic. This means being their complete selves at work; and that in turn means supporting one another during the lows. The company provides access to online therapists with free subscriptions to health and wellbeing apps. It also has an ‘Unsick Day’ that’s dedicated to preventive care.

PRIVACY Accenture is a multinational professional services company that offers flexible work choices to its employees. Its app based ‘Accenture Active’ initiative encourages workers to choose a key wellness goal that matters to them, and supports and rewards them for accomplishing it.

A major emphasis on the mental wellbeing of its staff led to confidential support services – this acknowledges that work related stress can be closely linked to what’s going on beyond the workplace. And it provides help with issues like stress, substance abuse, depression and anxiety.

FEEL GOOD Hilton, which is an American multinational hospitality group, focusses on employee wellbeing. This is manifested through the ‘Thrive@Hilton’ wellbeing initiative in partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global startup.

It’s all about helping team members feel more resilient, focussed and optimistic about their work. Subjects such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation are regularly explored, and directors are provided with in-person global training.

Hilton has a ‘Give a Dream, Live a Dream’ monthlong sabbatical option too, which affords team members with over five years of service a chance to be chosen for either philanthropic work, to explore new interests or achieve a personal goal.

While these wellbeing initiatives demonstrate positive business outcomes for organisations that adopt them, improving bottom line performance is rarely the reason for companies to begin looking at the wellbeing of their employees. The benefits and end results are byproducts.

Businesses introduce wellbeing initiatives because they want to do the right thing by their employees and contribute to fostering happier lives. But they also understand that to have a successful workforce, longevity that’s assisted by wellbeing is a significant factor in the business of success.