Special Report

Managing workplace wellness

Why workplace wellness should be about a lot more than an occasional event or promotional day

 

“Anyone with a workplace wellness day should be shot,” says John Ryan, chief executive of Great Place to Work. “The very idea of being well for a day is a joke. You need strategy around workplace wellness but our research shows that only 9 per cent of organisations have such a strategy.”

Great Place to Work is seeking to address this deficit through the introduction of a new standard for workplace wellness. “We have been working on this for the past three years,” he says. “It’s a different way of looking at health. For way too long, we have looked at it from a physical point of view with a bit of nutrition thrown in. People with mental health issues were left to flounder.”

He points out that research has shown that one of the biggest drivers of poor health is relationships. “If your relationships are bad then you feel bad,” he says. The new standard will cover areas of mental wellness not previously taken into account such as self-efficacy, which Ryan explains is our confidence in our ability to engage with our job and career.

RCSI has a comprehensive wellness programme for staff covering the four areas of physical, nutritional, mental, and occupational health, according to director of human resources Barry Holmes. He believes such programmes don’t necessarily act as a recruitment tool but they certainly help with retention.

“Will it be a reason for a person to be attracted to go to work in one place over another?” he asks. “They might still go for higher salary. Where it does help is retention. If you are there or thereabouts with salary other things will make a difference. We see it in terms of retention and looking after our people.”

Iconic Offices chief commercial officer Althaea Federlein believes demand from the new generation of workers is driving the wellness trend. “Companies are prioritising wellness now in areas like work life balance and stress reduction,” she says. “That is one of the great things about the younger generation of workers. They expect so much more than a pay cheque at the end of the week. And it’s not just Google doing it. Smaller companies are having to do it because it’s expected of them. We have a co-working space and we do a lot to promote the wellness of the community there. We partner with gyms, health food outlets and so on. People demand that now, they want to work in an environment that give them a wellness solution.”