Although wellness and well-being are concepts that are often used inter-changeably, there is a stark difference between the two. Simply put, wellness relates more to an employee’s physical state and health. Well-being on the other hand is concerned with an employee’s holistic state and overall happiness. ‘Workplace wellness’ is usually characterized by programs like nutrition, fitness and smoking cessation that focus solely on employees’ health.
But despite placing heaps of importance on workplace wellness programs, why have almost 95% of them either failed or not had much of an impact?
The answer lies in the fact that wellness programs do not address the well-being of employees as a whole which means taking into account their health, happiness, emotional state and mood. Companies that focus on employee well-being report a higher engagement score mainly because a well-being culture fosters productivity and creates a sense of purpose at work while also lowering employer healthcare costs.
Why Moving from Wellness to Well-Being Matters
Companies often end up restructuring and reinventing various aspects of work to suit changing business needs. The way employees navigate their emotions, deal with shifting work patterns and respond to pressure are important factors for high-performing organizations and leaders today. Even though workplace wellness programs have their own merit, they are not as impactful as a well-crafted well-being program.
The current trends in employee experience dictate that employees are acutely interested in how companies can enhance their lives both professionally and personally. They rate their overall experience by taking into account life at work as well as how it impacts their physical, emotional and financial well-being. The inclusive, yet diverse nature of well-being programs means there is something for everyone and have a greater chance of success, both from an enrollment and an engagement perspective.
Make Way for Well-Being
Companies that already have wellness programs in place will benefit from shifting their focus to well-being and incorporating initiatives at work to boost employee happiness. Since well-being means being mindful of physical health as well, offering exercise and fitness programs, yoga sessions, and healthy office snacks along with emotional well-being and de-stressing initiatives will help promote a holistic work culture.
- Flexible working hours – To encourage work-life balance and incentivize productivity
Opportunities for flexible work and remote work need to be part of a company’s well-being structure. Since employees have different demands outside of work, a flex policy will help reduce burnout and encourage satisfaction.
- Mindfulness training- To help reduce stress and facilitate creativity
Mindfulness is directly linked to motivation at work. Providing mindfulness training helps employees pause and reprogram that thoughts in a healthier, less stressful way. With nearly half of employees in India experiencing stress at work, mindfulness acts as a great technique to combat negative emotions, balance people-related issues and increase empathy for others.
- Counselling services- To support mental health
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer confidential mental health support for issues like stress, anxiety, depression and other emotional concerns. Workshops around mental health awareness, stress management, resilience and happiness have a positive impact on performance, employee retention and create happier places to work.
Let’s look at it this way. By focusing on weight loss, yoga and nutrition, employees might lose a couple of kilograms but will not immediately become more engaged and productive at work. From an ROI standpoint, by putting structures in place that are aimed at reducing stress, anxiety and depression, will benefit both, the employer and employee. The need of the hour is to shift focus from employee health to overall well-being.
Jim Clifton, Gallup Chairman and CEO hit the nail right on the head when he said “The most important dial on any leader’s dashboard for the next 20 years will be well-being. The money that well-being improvement means for companies—both for performance and productivity gains as well as healthcare cost reduction—is substantial.”