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Three new trends in workplace wellbeing

Wednesday, Apr 5, 2017, by Sheryl Blythen

Measurability, personalisation and a multi-faceted approach are some of the new trends for companies addressing workplace wellness, says expert Louise Thompson. Thompson works with many organisations who are investing in workplace wellbeing initiatives to reap the benefits of better staff engagement, higher productivity and a lower workforce turnover. “More businesses are coming to the realization that a healthier workforce means more productive employees who come up with better ideas and ultimately make more money.” And as businesses invest more in this area, workplace wellbeing programmes are becoming more sophisticated and offering real benefit to employees, she says. More is more Workplace wellness has evolved from covering the health and safety basics, such as how to lift a box without hurting your back and how to put a healthy lunchbox together, Thompson says. “In the past, wellbeing programmes have focused almost exclusively on the physical aspects of exercise and diet. That’s important, of course, but true wellbeing looks at the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as well,” she says. Thompson says it’s encouraging to see workplace wellbeing programmes becoming more multi-faceted, encompassing areas such as energy management, financial wellbeing, altruism, life-work balance and connecting with passion and purpose. “Leaders are asking, ‘How could meditation or mindfulness practices be helpful for our people? How can people improve sleep quality? How can we help our people be more emotionally resilient?’” The personal touch When it comes to wellness, HR departments have realized that a “one size fits all” approach won’t work, says Thompson. “We are seeing more personalisation of employee wellbeing options. Different ideas are presented to different departments or employees at different life stages.” Companies are also tailoring the way they communicate their initiatives – social media might work for one group of employees but others might prefer a face-to-face discussion with a manager. “As a result, people are more engaged with these programmes, and more likely to take control over their health and wellbeing.” Made to measure Organisations are much more focused on measuring the impacts of their wellness programmes, Thompson says. “Data is becoming more ‘real time’ than a once-a-year engagement survey. Wellness is no longer a feel-good, fluffy concept. Business leaders want to see results such as improvements in retention figures, increased productivity, and fewer sick days across the business.” Having better data is improving wellness programmes, Thompson says, because what gets measured gets done, and gets paid for. Diversity Works New Zealand is partnering with Thompson to run a Wellness Works workshop, aimed at giving people practical strategies that will improve their wellbeing at work and at home. It will be held in Auckland on May 9. For more information or to book your place on the workshop, visit www.diversityworksnz.org.nz

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