THE ‘WHOLE BEING’: TAKING A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO EMPLOYEE WELLBEING

It’s no secret that a happy, healthy and engaged workforce is key to improved corporate performance – and recognition of this has led to workplace wellbeing becoming a “must-have” in most organisations. However, investing in employee wellbeing should go beyond absence management, illness prevention and physical fitness. 

Wellbeing is more than just getting regular exercise and eating healthy foods. Yet many health and wellbeing programs still only look at these physical aspects. It’s time we zoom out and look at the bigger picture of holistic wellbeing and consider the ‘whole being.’ 

Why take a ‘whole being’ approach to employee wellbeing?

While wellbeing has become essential for many organisations, it’s common to focus mainly on physical and/or mental health. While these are two important components of an individual’s wellbeing, there is more to be considered. 

Someone may take excellent care of their mental and physical health through healthy eating, meditation, and exercise, but if they’re unhappy in their career, they aren’t fulfilled in their relationships, or their financial situation is out of control, this can have a domino effect on their overall wellbeing. 

Organisations need to adopt a holistic, or ‘whole being’, approach to wellbeing in order to make a real difference. A holistic approach considers the many different factors that make up a person’s wellbeing and is more likely to be successful in terms of impact on individual employees and the business at large.

What are the five key pillars of a holistic wellbeing strategy?

At Springday, we’ve identified five core pillars which affect overall wellbeing. These pillars are physical, emotional, social, career, and financial. The reason a holistic approach is so important is that these pillars of wellbeing do not exist separately, they are interconnected and directly impact one another.   

1. Physical Wellbeing

Physical wellbeing is probably one of the first things your mind goes to when you think of wellbeing. It’s your physical health – including fitness, energy, sleep and nutrition. 

Corporate physical wellbeing programs have been around for a long time, with the traditional approach thinking that offering a free gym program ticked all the boxes. Thankfully, physical wellbeing initiatives have now expanded to incorporate not only corporate gym memberships, but also step challenges, sleep programs, alcohol and drug information, access to recipes and nutritional education, and access to on-demand workouts. 

2. Emotional Wellbeing

Emotional wellbeing is the state of your mental health, such as positive emotions and stress levels. Emotional wellbeing has come into the spotlight more than ever over the last few years, and many organisations have started implementing wellbeing initiatives that aim to strengthen employee mental health and prevent burnout.  

Many organisations will offer company-wide ‘wellness’ or ‘recharge’ days, or mental health seminars as a part of their emotional wellbeing program. While these initiatives can be beneficial, you need to be doing more if you want to make a real difference in the emotional wellbeing of employees. 

You should actively work to create an inclusive work culture by destigmatising and increasing awareness of mental health in your organisation, providing a space where employees feel safe to open up. 

You may also need to address the root cause of stress and burnout by assessing your organisational culture and job structures. The Global Burnout Study, which was published early this year, found that burnout is predominantly caused by work design and culture.  

Allowing for flexible working arrangements and promoting work-life balance through flexible working policies, encouraging staff to take regular breaks and limiting email hours, can also be beneficial for reducing stress and burnout. 

3. Social Wellbeing

Social wellbeing comes from satisfaction in your social relationships and a sense of belonging, both within and outside of the workplace. Although it’s an often-overlooked pillar, social wellbeing is a vital component of your overall health and wellbeing. 

Social wellbeing in the workplace can stem from relationships with colleagues, alignment with company values, and feeling valued as a person, colleague and employee. It’s the role of HR leaders and managers to ensure the work environment is a suitable place for employees to foster positive relationships and develop lasting friendships, many of which can transcend beyond the office. 

Nurturing the social wellbeing of your people comes down to creating a sense of belonging and showing your employees you care about them personally (not just how they impact the bottom line) and appreciate the work that they do. It’s also beneficial to encourage social interactions and make time for fun outside of the workplace as well (e.g., team lunches, virtual catchups). 

4. Career Wellbeing

Career wellbeing is all about your level of satisfaction in your current job, including how often you feel positive, engaged and productive. It’s also about how you feel about your career prospects tomorrow and how your work is helping you achieve what you want out of life. It’s about having a sense of purpose and direction and feeling satisfied with where you’re at in your career. 

Leadership programs, coaching and mentoring, skills training and career progression opportunities all help to nurture an employee’s career wellbeing. On top of this, you can also provide them with resources from experts that can help them learn the skills to better manage their time, reduce their stress levels, find purpose in their work and feel more satisfied in their career. 

5. Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is how satisfied you feel with your current financial situation, including managing your finances. It’s about having the financial freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.  

Financial wellbeing is intrinsically linked with all other areas of wellbeing. Poor financial wellbeing can negatively impact mental health and stress levels. On the other hand, having good financial wellbeing has a positive flow on effect on all other areas of an individual’s life. 

Yet, how can you help employees take control of their financial situation when even talking about money or salaries can feel taboo? By providing resources to help employees learn money management techniques, such as tracking spending and budgeting, securing their financial future with investments and superannuation, and how to tackle debt.  

A custom wellbeing platform built by Springday allows you to implement initiatives and provide expert resources for employees that address all five pillars of wellbeing, tied together by a holistic wellbeing strategy. Learn more about our solutions or chat to us about how we can help you. 

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