While there’s no denying that wellness and wellbeing are connected, the two terms are also distinctly different. For instance, wellness focuses on your physical health while wellbeing encompasses your entire lifestyle. Over the past few years, wellness programs have begun to shift the focus from solely improving the health of their employees to enhancing the entire wellbeing of everyone at the company.
The main benefit of focusing on wellbeing instead of wellness is that it covers a greater spectrum. Wellness is just part of wellbeing, after all. While wellness covers the physical side of health, wellbeing also takes the psychological, emotional and financial health into account. In fact, the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index lists five areas that together create a strong sense of wellbeing: career, financial, social, physical and community.
Wellness programs have traditionally only been concerned with the physical aspect. By encouraging participants to exercise more, eat healthier and abstain from high-risk behaviors, wellness programs of the past thrived at improving physical health but rarely touched on the other parts of wellbeing.
From “Wellness” to “Wellbeing”
In order to better understand why businesses should be concerned about more than just their employees’ physical health, let’s take a look at how these other wellbeing categories can affect the happiness and productivity of the individual.
- Career/Purpose – Everyone wants to feel like they have a purpose in life. Employees who like their job and feel valued by their employer tend to have a strong sense of purpose. As long as they enjoy coming to work every day and feel like they have an important role to play in the success of the company, the needs of this category will be met.
- Financial – It’s no fun balancing the budget and paying the bills but it’s something that everyone has to deal with. By having a strong grasp on your financial health, it helps to ease your stress levels and gives you a sense of security. Help your employees manage their finances by offering assistance and they’ll have more time to work and less time to worry.
- Social – Surrounding yourself with a support group of friends and family makes it easier to navigate life’s challenges. At work, this need is met by having a welcoming and friendly company culture. Plan social activities to foster friendships among employees and you’ll find that people are more excited to come to work each day.
- Community – Being a part of a community adds to your wellbeing at home and at work. Offer a work environment where people feel safe and secure by not allowing discrimination. Create a place that people are happy to work at and have a sense of pride in their job.
By maximizing each of these areas, in addition to physical health, employees are more likely to thrive in the workplace. A Gallup poll found that people who feel satisfied in all five categories take 41 percent fewer sick days and are 81 percent less likely to want to change jobs. Yet only 66 percent of people are thriving in at least one area and only 7 percent are satisfied in all five.
How Can I Increase the Overall WellBeing of My Employees?
The first step is to take a look at how your existing wellness plan fits into your company’s culture. Make sure that the health and wellness of your employees is a top priority by setting realistic goals and providing the resources needed to reach them. Be sure to set a good example by participating and offering encouragement.
Next, discover what is most important to your employees and make sure that these needs are met, whether they’re related to physical, mental or emotional health. Consider taking a poll to learn how your employees feel about the workplace environment and ask for suggestions on how to make improvements and boost the company’s morale if needed.
Now that you’ve thoroughly examined your company and asked for employee’s input, you can start to make changes to improve your company’s wellbeing. Remember, a happy employee is a productive employee so revising your wellness plan to include wellbeing is a win-win for everyone.