The evolution from wellness to well-being
Both wellness and well-being have been gaining momentum over the past years, especially as companies focus on creating great places to work for their employees.
However, while these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to different aspects of health. In fact, when it comes to fueling employee engagement, productivity, and happiness, well-being can be considered the evolution of wellness.
So, what’s the difference between wellness and well-being? Which one should you be focusing on? And, more importantly, how can they help you boost employee performance? Let’s find out.
What is wellness?
According to Merriam-Webster, wellness generally refers to “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”. This term is associated with healthy practices that can range from physical activity and balanced diets to disease prevention.
Companies have historically fostered employee wellness through workplace programs involving initiatives such as health assessments, flu vaccinations, or yoga classes. The idea behind these programs was that the healthier an employee was, the better their work performance would be.
However, being in a good physical state is not enough for employees to perform at the peak of their capabilities. Employees who have a balanced diet, sleep 8 hours a day, and practice yoga regularly might still be unwell at an emotional level. This unhappiness translates to burnout and low productivity, taking a toll on their performance as well.
That’s why the industry has gradually shifted from wellness to well-being.
What is well-being?
Well-being is a more comprehensive concept, encompassing employee’s mental health across different aspects of life. We can therefore talk about emotional, physical, social, environmental, financial, and occupational well-being. By combining these different elements, you get a thriving, prosperous life.
Wellness is a part of well-being, and it’s the key to boost employee performance: a thriving employee is highly engaged, productive, and resilient. Along the same lines, workplace well-being programs are more inclusive than wellness programs, going beyond nutrition and fitness to also cover stress management, workload assessment, and mental health awareness, among others.
What are the benefits of improving employee well-being?
According to a recent Gallup study, employees who only thrive physically are less satisfied with their work because they feel unaccomplished and lack motivation.
Improving well-being leads to an overall balance in employees’ lives, bringing a variety of benefits, from boosting employee performance to ultimately improving a company’s bottom line.
Here are some of the top advantages of fostering employee well-being:
- Higher engagement and productivity: employees are more committed to their work. By better assessing their stress and time management skills, they are able to further gain ownership and participate more actively.
- Increased retention: happy employees are more loyal to the company, and are therefore more likely to stay longer at their position.
- Improved company culture: employees who feel supported are more open to collaborating with their teammates, connecting with company values, and generating a better work environment.
- Reduced absenteeism: mentally and physically healthy employees are less likely to miss work.
- Higher job satisfaction: the sum of all of the above.An engaged employee takes pride in every project, enjoying their time at the company.
How can you boost employee well-being?
- Conduct regular mood assessments: mood tracking helps to identify employee burnout or stress at an early stage. By understanding these patterns, employers can assess whether a mood trend is happening at an individual or collective level—and take action to offer effective solutions.
- Encourage team connectivity: create a work environment that makes your team eager to come to work every day: schedule weekly syncs or plan team-building initiatives—whether offline or online! Employees who feel comfortable with their team will work better together.
- Promote honest conversations about well-being: don’t let mental health become taboo. It’s ok to mix well-being data with performance. After all, mental health is intrinsically connected to productivity and engagement.
- Foster trust and transparency: in line with the previous point, keeping an open mind and being an active listener will help you increase trust and transparency within the team. The aim is to get employees to actively provide feedback and ask for help when necessary.
- Track your team’s workload and stress level: let your team know that it’s ok to take breaks. Focusing for 5 hours straight doesn’t make you more productive, it makes you closer to burnout. Make sure to manage employees’ workload by defining which are the top priorities they should be focusing on.
- Give recognition/praise for important dates & achievements: recognize employees for their effort and contribution. These initiatives not only let your team know how much you value their work, but can also help drive self-confidence and motivation.
- Keep it consistent: don’t let your efforts towards employee well-being be a one-off. While hosting a well-being program is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s not a solution to the problem. Company well-being needs to be measured continually to provide a dynamic and comprehensive view of the state of your team’s health and how satisfied they are with the company.
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