Wellbeing at work: What should you expect? And what can you do to encourage it?

It’s a brand new year of work.

Safe to say, over the past couple of years work has looked very different. Thanks to Covid, how and where we work has been royally turned upside down and taken a toll on our sense of wellbeing.

But it’s not just our wellbeing at home which took a battering – thanks to home-schooling kids, strange new routines to navigate, mask-wearing and very little social contact – so too did our wellbeing in the workplace.

Today wellbeing is being taken so much more seriously by employers globally, as they strive to put in place programmes to drive wellbeing for their pandemic-weary employees.  

Which leads us to ask: “What should we expect from our employer? And how can we encourage wellbeing if we aren’t getting what we think we need?”

What does workplace wellbeing look like?

Employee wellbeing is about how your job (duties, expectations, stress level and environment) affects your overall health and happiness.

And while it certainly includes things like exercise and nutrition, wellbeing isn’t just about physical health. It’s also about your mood, your sense of optimism and less tangible factors like having a sense of purpose. Basically, it’s employers understanding their employees from a holistic perspective and considering their overall quality of life.

From the employer’s perspective, it also makes good sense to keep their employee’s wellbeing a top priority. Our 2021 Work Wellbeing Index showed a score of just 62/100 for overall wellbeing within Kiwi businesses, so there is a definite opportunity in 2022 for Kiwi employers to create a higher level of wellbeing in the workplace.

If this is needed in your workplace, perhaps a nudge in the right direction is called for!

Jane Kennelly, GM Wellbeing, Skills Consulting Group

So what could you expect from your employer?

Many employers have a workplace wellbeing programme in place to help achieve a good work and life balance. This could include flexible working opportunities, yoga classes, webinars, resilience training or practical seminars on ways to manage stress.  

Some businesses have even added technology tools to identify precisely what their employees need, so they can deliver exactly what’s required to the right people.

There are also Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) which many businesses provide – so employees can access specialist help for those times when they are dealing with a big life issue that can get in the way of being productive at work.

What can you do to encourage workplace wellbeing?

Even though wellbeing is a hot topic right now, the fact is you should expect to be taken seriously and treated with respect by your employer. So take a look and see if any of the following ideas might help encourage wellbeing in your workplace.  

  • Recognition: suggest a way to recognise colleagues in your workplace for their efforts and achievements
  • Fitness: how about a fitness challenge with your teammates to kickstart the year?
  • Virtual: suggest a weekly virtual wellbeing session, eg. mindfulness
  • Host ‘lunch & learns’: to talk about wellbeing ideas
  • Connecting: create a new-hire buddy system, take a full lunch break, create team traditions
  • Walking meetings: get the blood flowing by holding meetings on foot.
  • Flexitime: ask for flexible work hours to improve work/life balance
  • Stand: standing while you work burns energy (your leg, core, and back muscles tense to balance).
  • Personal development: No one wants to stand still. Arrange a development discussion with your manager
  • Volunteering: Set up a volunteering programme and volunteer days
  • EAP: If it’s not on offer already, suggest EAP support.

Ultimately, employers want to have happy, healthy employees – most truly do care about that – so don’t be afraid to be bold and check in with your employer. After all, happy employees are more productive employees!

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