Did you know that more than 50 percent of employees experience mental health issues?
Unfortunately, the percentage is increasing, making mental health a crucial aspect to focus on in the workplace. Poor mental health affects not only the workers’ ability to perform but also the overall productivity of the companies they work for.
Supporting and promoting mental health and occupational wellness in the workplace has become necessary to help employees thrive and achieve their performance goals.
Unfortunately, despite sky-high rates of mental health issues in the workplace, a considerable percentage of employees report that their organizations don’t have any mental health strategy. So there’s nothing that can help them with stress, anxiety, and depression at work. Note that tons of work-related risk factors can affect the employees' mental health.
Let’s plunge into the details to understand occupational wellness, its importance, and the steps HRs, leaders, and managers can take to promote staff wellbeing.
What is occupational wellness?
Occupational wellness refers to the ability to obtain a balance between leisure and work that can promote a sense of personal satisfaction, health, and financial rewards. It is a phenomenon that inspires employees to find enrichment in work.
The attitude employees have about their work has a significant influence on how they develop in their occupation.
In addition, occupational wellness programs gives employees or workers opportunities to explore different career options and motivates them to pursue professional opportunities they may be interested in. A concrete example of an occupational wellness program is job shadowing. Employees pair up with another employee for a day to understand what their role is like and it they’d be interested in pursuing it.
In essence, occupational wellness is a dimension that recognizes and acknowledges the importance of personal satisfaction and meaning via work.
Many think it’s just about mental health, but it expands to different areas too.
What is employee wellbeing?
Employee wellbeing can be defined as the combination of factors that affect employees’ quality of work, morale, team dynamics, responsibilities, and corresponding results. Wellbeing is a state of balance, where your employees are provided with an environment to optimize their sense of wellness and impact on the organization.
The most successful corporations and entrepreneurs are consistently regarded well by their employees, due to their focus on employee wellbeing and benefits. Platforms like Glassdoor are a testament to the growing importance of quality of work and benefits for employees. Lack of wellbeing measures and increase in stress among employees results in increased medical spending, voluntary turnover, and a decrease in productivity and outcomes.
Now that we know what occupational wellness and employee well-being are, let’s look at how they influence one another.
Why is occupational wellness important to employee well-being?
Occupational wellbeing is an aspect of mental wellness, which is a state of wellbeing every employee needs to deal with work-related stressors and productivity issues to reach their full potential.
Workplace wellness leads to mental peace that is crucial to demonstrating a quality performance. Note that workplace wellness programs are more than just creating running groups or testing workers for health risks. Examples of wellness programs aim to cultivate a healthy and supportive environment to help employees excel and thrive.
Occupational or workplace wellness is critically essential in the workplace to help workers cope with setbacks and challenges both at home and work. A positive mental state allows workers to identify and regulate their emotions. Plus, it enables them to empathize with coworkers and improve social and cognitive skills.
Moreover, workplace wellness programs allow workers to communicate their values by involving them in gratifying activities and tasks. Occupational wellness also plays a significant role in identifying workplace stress to incorporate conflict management.
It doesn't end here, as workplace occupational wellness helps workers cope with changing responsibilities and roles. Employees can successfully face complex challenges if they are in the best mental state.
10 Examples of occupational wellness promoting employee well-being
1. Talk about the importance of mental health
Burnout in employees is the real thing. It slowly undermines the quality of work an organization or company produces. The WHO (World Health Organization) officially recognizes the responsibility of organizations to incorporate strategies to help employees manage stress.
Economic conditions, rising inflation, and workplace competition have exacerbated the challenges. Leaders and managers need to build a burnout strategy. They need to explore comprehensive solutions to reduce employee burnout and make their workplaces thrive.
These solutions to promote occupational wellness can help managers build a culture of listening and communicate the importance of improving mental health. It can also help employees minimize distractions and reflect on their emotions, resulting in better mental health.
2. Encourage employee connection and camaraderie
Team and employees’ camaraderie and connection prosper in a culture that allows them to communicate openly in a positive manner. However, it occurs only when people feel a sense of appreciation and respect.
Leaders and managers can cultivate employee camaraderie and connection through a comprehensive mentorship program. It is an excellent way to establish trust among coworkers and team members. Thus, camaraderie among teams is an essential aspect of occupational wellness.
Through mentorship programs, leaders can teach shared commitment, mutual respect, and motivation to work as a team.
3. Make flexible work an option
A survey conducted in 2019 found that remote workers work 1.4 more days a month compared to in-office employees.
That means making flexible work norms benefit both organizations and employees. It not only boosts productivity but also widens talent pools and improves diversity. Many studies show that working flexibly increases productivity which translates into occupational wellness.
Moreover, a flexible environment forces leadership and managers to assess their workers on what matters instead of just their presence in the location. It facilitates a result-oriented culture and helps an organization thrive.
4. Support employee development and upskilling
There is no denying that upskilling your employees drive business and employee growth. High turnover has pushed companies to invest more in their employee development. When leaders put effort into elevating the employees’ skills to the next level, it gives them opportunities to advance their careers.
Though it is a long-term investment, it allows the workforce to grow professionally and improve their knowledge and competencies. Supporting employee development is a great way to strengthen the relationship with the employees and promote occupational wellness in the organization.
5. Encourage public recognition and praise
It is especially true when you praise your employees. Acknowledging employees’ efforts serves as extrinsic motivation they need to perform better.
Furthermore, employee recognition is one way to help retain employees, build vibrant, value-based culture, enhance their performance, and impact their mental health positively. Encouraging employees brings leaders and employees closer to each other, reducing hesitation and communication barriers.
Praising the performance of your employees boosts their confidence tremendously.
6. Expand health benefits to include wellness
With employees adapting to new life/work realities, remote working norms, and isolation, their anxiety levels have increased. They expect emotional and mental support from employers they have never needed before.
Expanding health benefits, like adding chiropractic care, for example, is essential to support and promote the employees' financial, mental, and physical health.
7. Survey employees and act on feedback
The survey is a tremendous mental assessment tool that helps managers, leaders, and HRs identify various mental health issues employees have to deal with. It can explore wellness solutions to benefit employees’ mental health.
Employers can use surveys in the form of:
- Mental wellness meter quiz
- Mental state questionnaire
- Work-life balance quiz
- Online mental wellness check-ups
- Mood analysis checklist
As diversity is critical to a progressive and growing culture, surveys can help organizations create a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Use employees’ feedback to promote inclusive behaviours or practical tips to create a diverse culture that boosts occupational wellness.
8. Connect employees with personalized wellness tools
Employees are an asset to any business. Taking care of their well-being should be a priority for employers.
Employees’ personalized wellness tools are an excellent way to keep teams healthy and happy to be at their best.
Tools and apps like Headspace and Calm are significant to leading mindfulness-based mental health advantages to teams. These apps and tools provide access to plenty of exercises and meditations for movement, stress, sleep, and focus.
Incorporating these apps into your work or making your employees subscribe to personalized wellness apps reduces burnout and stress.
9. Give back to your community and support volunteerism
Occupational wellness is also about supporting and helping communities to develop and thrive. When employees are in a peaceful mental state, they identify their corporate social responsibility in a better way and make efforts to support volunteerism.
10. Support worker autonomy
Many studies show that worker autonomy is a critical resource that can lower employee burnout. A sense of autonomy can help employees drive workplace satisfaction. Employees improve their performance when they control their own space. Therefore, supporting worker autonomy is one way to promote occupational wellness in the organization.
How do I create an employee wellness program?
There is no denying that employee wellness is mandatory to get higher employee productivity and engagement. It can benefit your organization in many ways.
That said, creating and executing an employee wellness program is an excellent way to ensure that your employees are in the right mental and emotional condition to give their 100 percent.
An employee wellness program assists teams with personal or work-related problems that can hurt their performance and productivity. It helps employees improve their mental competency and well-being they need to deal with traumatic events, professional challenges, wellness matters, workplace bullying, and legal problems.
The program also strengthens work-relationship and establishes an understanding between managers and employees. Enterprise mentorship programs can also help connect employees and guide them to become more productive and engaged at work.
If you’re looking to promote occupational wellness in your organization, ensure implementing mentorship and wellbeing programs.
Remember that a happy workforce is what keeps businesses on track to success. To improve the mental wellness of your workforce, you need to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts. Thus, the more your employees are mentally strong, the higher the pace of your business success will be.
Ready to promote wellbeing in the workplace?
Ensuring employee wellbeing at its core is all about building a balanced workplace and a working environment that helps employees thrive. And throughout this article, we’ve listed all the ways in which you can promote employee well-being and occupational wellness. Some organizations simply fail to acknowledge this basic necessity and eventually end up having an exhausted team with no energy to perform.
Remember, the key to growth is working as a team while being with the team. Your employees seek a leader in you, not a boss.