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  • Writer's pictureJaya Koilpillai Bohlmann

Workplace Wellbeing Hack #1: Work and wellbeing: Creating a holistic culture

One of the many reasons we work is to gain a sense of wellbeing. This all-important, pervasive rush of energy, calm, confidence and joy is so important that if it’s missing at work, studies show we can suffer from higher risk of disease, illness and injury and even a shorter life. And, we are highly likely to leave those jobs, costing our employers billions in lost productivity and turnover.

If we do feel a sense of wellbeing in our workplace, we are more engaged, healthy, positive and productive not only at work but in our lives overall. However, the state of wellbeing in American workplaces isn’t all that…well. A recent Gallup study of millions of Americans showed that only 33 percent of U.S. employees were engaged at work. ( . So, the vast majority are not physically and emotionally involved with their daily tasks and are not attentive nor focused.

In data that addresses engagement in public relations, the PR Council PRC Next Project ( reports that, to feel engaged, most PR pros want more training, feedback, flexibility, opportunities to advance, realistic workloads, and to spend less time at work. This is important to know now, as most companies are battling for talent and need to pay attention to their employer brands.

Wellbeing in the workplace means more than the trend of workplace wellness. While wellness has been an important HR trend for more than 15 years and mostly refers to physical health, wellbeing is holistic, referring to an overall positive view of life, satisfaction, positive functioning, fulfillment, and feeling good physically, mentally and emotionally. Factors contributing to wellbeing include health, money, relationships, safety and social contribution.

If you’re not experiencing wellbeing in your workplace this upcoming article series can help. In it, I provide five workplace wellbeing hacks that are based on the most important factors of wellbeing. These are proven strategies and tactics to help you feel better on the job. They address mental health, diversity, management, connection and culture.

The articles offer advice at the individual, leader and organization levels. At all levels, organizational culture is critical.

Culture is the set of beliefs and values an organization demonstrates by its employee’s behaviors, its strategic programs; its approach to daily tasks; and its symbols and language (tone, formality, vocabulary). Culture is the cornerstone of an organization’s internal environment, which supports how it interacts with its external environment – without culture, an organization cannot succeed.

To create a workplace culture that embraces wellbeing:

1. Listen to your employees. Provide programs and set standards for behaviors they tell you they want. See below.

2. Embed these into the accountability (rewards an recognition) systems of your organization.

3. Model expected behaviors from the top of the organization.

4. Train all employees for expected behaviors through formal programs, and through role modeling by mid- to upper-management employees.

5. Monitor and measure results. Do this through surveys, pools, ongoing feedback loops, and direct observation.

Know what wellbeing means to your employees. In your next employee engagement survey, include wellbeing-related questions. Be prepared to act on what they tell you. This could require some soul-searching and deep commitment to change - most factors contributing to employee wellbeing are behavioral rather than programmatic.

The wellbeing survey could include ranking statements like:

· My job provides me with a sense of meaning and purpose.

· I have the freedom to choose how to best perform my job.

· I feel challenged and stretched in my job in ways that result in personal growth.

· Most days, I see positive results because of my work.

· I feel like I belong here.

· I feel healthy at work.

· I work on tasks that interest me.

· I feel encouraged to learn at work.

· I have freedom to take the breaks I need at work.

· I am adding to my skills and knowledge at work.

To your survey, add questions about specific programs to know which are most valuable to your employees before investing in them. Programs don’t need to be flashy nor expensive to be helpful to your employees. There are many digital, flexible, on-demand wellbeing programs (including social media channels and apps) that deliver personalized experiences to employees across a wide array of interests and abilities across generational, demographic and geographic boundaries. These can support employee goals related to diet, fitness, sleep, stress management, financial management and more.

Communication is key to wellbeing programs

Once you have your wellbeing programs in place, communication is critical. Let your employees know about the programs, how to access them and what they are and how to use them through an integrated combination of in-person and technology-driven communication tools. Generally, a wellbeing communication program includes:

· rewards and recognition for employees who effectively use the programs.

· communication that includes education about wellbeing topics (using your most widely used tools such as intranet, employee blogs, employee resource groups, lunch and learns).

· workplace communities that support each other’s wellbeing goals.

Building a culture of wellbeing takes time, commitment, resources and leadership. Stay tuned for the rest of the articles in this series, and check for more information.

What ideas do you have for addressing the issue in this article? Let us know on Twitter #PRHACK.

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