Everyone is talking about workplace wellbeing at the moment, but it’s vital that companies do more than simply pay lip service.
We spend a lot of our lives in our workplace, so it’s extremely important that we feel well and healthy while we’re there. While people can be great at looking after their wellbeing outside of work, it’s important to make sure that this doesn’t dip in work.
However, this is not just the responsibility of employees. As we move away from the dreadfully unhealthy attitude of maximum productivity and working until you drop, companies are starting to pay more attention to the positive image they get for being ‘pro-wellness’.
However, in much the same way that any positive move happens, it starts with companies desperately trying to tick a box to prove that they’re ‘one of the good ones’. The box-ticking exercise is very much putting on a show rather than putting actual processes in place that will make things better. It happened with diversity and inclusion, it happened with meaning and purpose, and now it’s happening with workplace wellbeing.
So, what exactly is workplace wellbeing? According to Kemp Technologies’ Niamh McNamara, it’s an all-encompassing term that includes anything from promoting employees’ physical health and fitness to good mental health. “It also includes creating a good office culture where staff enjoy coming to work, have a good working relationship with their colleagues and are not afraid to have a bit of fun as they work,” she said.
McNamara added that it’s extremely important that companies take ownership of workplace wellbeing and don’t just leave it up to employees. “At the end of the day, your employees are your company. Without their knowledge, skills and talent, your company would not be where it is today,” she said. “Taking responsibility for your employees’ wellbeing is a way to show your appreciation for your employees’ commitment and hard work.”
At Kemp, McNamara said the company takes its own workplace wellbeing very seriously, with benefits such as free healthcare for staff as well as their spouses and dependent children, quarterly wellness reimbursements, and classes with a local fitness instructor in Limerick.
The company also hosts an annual wellness event in line with National Workplace Wellbeing Day (12 April). This year, it includes a range of activities such as a healthy snack desk-drop, fitness challenges and a health self-monitoring station.
Promoting workplace wellbeing
McNamara said one of the major trends she has noticed is the increased emphasis on mental health and mindfulness. “There is a lot of talk around promoting positive mental health amongst employees. Kemp actually sent me on a mental health first aid course towards the end of last year run by Mental Health First Aid Ireland,” she said. “I am now a mental health first aid responder in Kemp so that means if anyone is struggling with mental health issues, they can come to me in confidence to talk through their struggles and I can help assist them in getting the support they need.”
It’s important for all companies to remember that it’s not enough to passively promote workplace wellbeing or to simply offer healthcare packages – there’s a much bigger picture. “Companies need to start looking at different wellbeing initiatives they can offer to employees that cover a range of these different factors. It doesn’t have to be costly, it just needs to be something that shows you care about the wellbeing of your employees. Employees appreciate the little things,” said McNamara.
Employers need to do more to support their employees, but employees do have a part to play, too. McNamara said it’s important to make use of the facilities that are on offer, whatever they may be. Additionally, if there is something you need that isn’t on offer, talk to your employer about it and see what they can do. The best way to help a company improve is to tell them what you want, and the best way for companies to deliver initiatives and benefits that their employees really want is to ask them.