Getting workplace wellness right

Workplace wellness programs are nearly always a top down exercise, which is why they so often seem to fail – the health and wellbeing of a company needs to be established from the ground up so team members can get behind the initiative.

“Wellness in the workplace” is a huge present trend, with many Australian companies fighting it out to offer their employees the best, most innovative workplace wellness solutions from standing desks, fresh fruit deliveries to resilience training and weekly massages.

But while all these practices are great, if they don’t fit authentically into a business they won’t be effective.

Wellbeing in business should become business as usual – not an over the top effort by companies to create cultures that are not only inauthentic, but difficult to manage, expensive to run, and unsupported by the wider staff. The culture of a company should come first to business owners, and a culture cannot be created simply by investing in wellness programs.

It is through the culture of a company, that a culture of health and wellness is created, and not the other way around. Workplace wellness programs are nearly always a top down exercise, which is why they so often seem to fail because the health and wellbeing of a company needs to be established from the ground – up that way team members can get behind the initiative, feel a level of authenticity and are responsible for its success and impactful change. After all, it’s your staff who impact your culture.

Here is some advice for business owners looking to create an authentic team culture, without wasting money on expensive wellness programs the team doesn’t care about:

1. Value happiness

In order to flip the management triangle on its head, it’s important to share the responsibility of staff with others.

By appointing someone in the team to be responsible and aware of other staff’s wellbeing you are immediately allowing more junior employees the opportunity to shine in ways other than what their job description may outline. Help them succeed by allocating a small budget – whether that’s simply to shout the team coffees once a week, or buy flowers for someone in the office who’s having a tough week, acknowledging each individual staff member beyond the work that they do can in turn reflect greatly on their quality of work and loyalty to your business.”

2. Mindfulness matters

Studies show that mindfulness can increase productivity and generate better results. We all know how draining the 3pm slump can be, so instead of stocking the office cupboard with sugary treats to get staff through the afternoon, opt for a daily meditation to reawaken your staff and give them the reboot they need to get through the last few hours in a productive way.

But be consistent. There’s no point in saying you’re going to do it and getting too busy. You need to take the charge, and commit to those 10 minutes every day so that even when you’re out of the office, the staff prioritize this and understand its value to their own work.

3. Celebrate the small stuff

Every week we have a Friday lunch team meeting, and before we get into action points we take the time to celebrate small wins for each of our staff, allowing our employees to take the floor and share with us their win for the week, or perhaps something they’ve noticed another colleague has done well. This allows everyone within the business to feel valued, rather than waiting until yearly reviews to acknowledge a job well done.

4. Enjoy nature – change your environment

Whether you’re in a busy corporate office space, or on a worksite, pulling your staff out of the work “zone” can really empower staff and inspire bigger ideas. At Basic Bananas, we host “board” meetings literally, on surf boards in the ocean, so we’re away from technology and can truly connect with one another, with nature and with our ideas – some of our best concepts were formed while bobbing on a wave.

Franziska Iseli, entrepreneur and co-founder, Basic Bananas

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