Workplace wellbeing – fact or fiction?

Technology, offshoring, and the heightened global competition has led many organisations to expect more, for less, from their employees. An interesting trend that has emerged off the back of this, however, is an interest in workplace wellbeing.  In case this trend is yet to hit your office, workplace wellbeing essentially refers to organisations taking a holistic approach to the health of their employees – wanting them to be happier, healthier and less stressed, both inside, and outside, of the office.  But why would an organisation care about their employees being happy outside of the office? Because, as a plethora of research shows, employees who are happier and healthier overall are more engaged, productive, and, overall, cheaper.

Whilst logic would dictate, then, that all organisations would be jumping on the wellbeing bandwagon, there is much evidence to the contrary.  If organisations really cared about their employee’s wellbeing, they would be prioritizing their work-life balance, not letting it diminish over time, or at the very least, they wouldn’t be letting them literally die from exhaustion.

So which way is the pendulum really swinging? Is workplace wellbeing an established fact, here to stay? Or is it a merely a fiction, preached by some organisations, but not ever really practiced?  Let’s have a look at both sides of the coin and find out.

Wellbeing – surely a fact?  

 

Upon initial inspection, it looks like wellbeing is definitely fact.  Research recently completed by Virgin shows that 78% of employers have now implemented a holistic wellness program, which includes not only physical wellness, but also other areas such as financial wellness, and mental health.  This represented a 6% increase from last year, and the researchers were hopeful that the number of employers implementing such a program would continue to increase.

In addition to physical, financial, and mental wellbeing, many organisations have also begun to introduce programs on mindfulness and meditation, which often includes training on resilience and emotional intelligence, in an attempt to assist their employees not only to reduce stress, but to develop the resilience and perspective required to better deal with it.

It would appear, then, that wellbeing is entrenching itself rapidly as a ‘fact’ of the modern workplace – however, are organisations practicing what they preach?

Wellbeing – fiction masquerading as fact

If organisations want their employees to be well, it seems that they want to do so with some conditions – such as their employees continuing to work long hours from the office.  Research has shown that even though employees find long hours, and commutes, stressful, organisations continue to value ‘facetime,’ even though technology has made flexible working ever-more feasible.  Furthermore, wellbeing ‘benefits’ such as onsite childcare, chefs, and beds, can, upon closer inspection, also look suspiciously like instruments designed to promote ever-longer working hours – if you provide your employee with everything they need in life, it can all become work! It seems, therefore, that employers may want employees to be ‘well’ – but only on their terms.

But does it really matter what conditions employers pose, as long as the programs are working? The real problem is, however, that the programs don’t seem to be working.  If they were, workplace stress probably wouldn’t be at an all-time high and far less than 80% of people would hate their jobs.

The final word

 

It is a little difficult for us here at Teazl to have the final word on this issue, as our workplace, just like our product, is fun, flexible and innovative, and we believe the wellbeing our of employees is central to upholding this culture.

So over to you – is wellbeing in your workplace fact, or fiction?

Author: Janine Cahill

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