The Fundamentals of Workplace Wellness

Workplace wellness is multidisciplinary; it requires a diverse team of people that are valued, respected, heard and fulfilled

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An increased focus on corporate wellness is a trend on the rise with businesses realising that a healthy ecosystem in the workplace leads to productivity, securing and keeping talent at the top level, and the overall success of a company.

Although there is room for misinterpretation on what corporate wellness really means. HR initiatives like Friday night knock-off drinks, or table tennis at lunchtime are fun for sure, but mistaking such workplace perks for workplace wellness will put your organisation on the hedonic treadmill unless your foundations are rock solid. Even the most talented HR teams can't fix a toxic office environment with office perks.

So, how can businesses avoid tokenistic offerings and manage corporate wellness effectively?

In the Maori culture, there is a holistic approach to wellbeing known as "te whare tapa whā' or, the four cornerstones of the house – being mental, physical, spiritual, and family health. When one cornerstone crumbles, the foundation of the house collapses. The health of a business is built on the same model, where each cornerstone takes care of the other. It can easily be thrown off balance when at its core; workers are not satisfied only with each cornerstone.

Workplace wellness is multidisciplinary; it requires a diverse team of people that are valued, respected, heard and fulfilled. And it is the tone at the top, which trickles down throughout the organisation and ensures these requirements are met.

It should come as no surprise that mental health plays a monumental role in good work. When our brain is happy, it means we are focused and ready to tackle challenges head on. As a leader, you are solely responsible for the energy in the workplace, so take the time to create space for group and individual discussions that allow you to connect and ask meaningful questions.

Actively listen to the answers and draw on your experience in the roles you have had before CEO to practice understanding, empathy and constructive feedback. An effective way to do this is by keeping an open-door policy, allowing yourself to be seen and heard beyond the emails and conference calls.

Physical health in corporate workplaces is often put on the backburner when employees feel overworked, exhausted and stressed. Be mindful of moving your body and lead by example; take a walk on your lunch break and invite the team along. This allows you to reset the day and for conversation to flow around passions outside of work.

As a leader, it is paramount that you encourage big picture conversations with individual employees and where you can support their goals and ambitions to ensure the work they do for you is fulfilling to them. Keep your team accountable to their goals and level responsibility to foster purpose and drive in the workplace.

Leading an organisation means that you intrinsically know how it operates; when there is a problem, you help to fix it. Structure collaborative problem-solving discussions, where open dialogue from diverse and multidisciplinary perspectives and roles is encouraged. Workplaces need respectful, healthy debates and exchange of ideas to ensure things run smoothly and keep the ecosystem as strong as possible.

The aloof CEO is not the CEO of the future. Fostering leading workplace wellness is multi-faceted and cannot be addressed by any one single department; rather, it is a function of a combined organisational effort supported by a strong leader who is present and mindful of their workplace culture. Their house must be in order.