The New Wave of Corporate Wellness: How CEOs, HR Departments and Employees Are Benefiting 

0 77

COVID-19 was a catalyst for many things, but corporate wellness was at the top of the list. It revealed the fact that most business leaders are ill-equipped to truly integrate wellness into their everyday practices, both for themselves and for their company as a whole. Today, searching the term “Corporate Wellness” can inundate the reader with a myriad of media hits ranging from “wellness benefits” to “breathwork in the workplace.” For leaders across the globe, it has left them overwhelmed and confused as we all work together to create new societal norms surrounding the need and expectations for employee mental health and wellness.  

As a licensed therapist, wellness consultant, and the owner of a six-facility healthcare group, Shelly O’Neal has a first-hand look at not only the influx of demand for wellness programs but also the challenges companies face in integrating wellness into their culture. Shelly says, though, that it begins with the C-Suite. 

The C-Suite has an opportunity to lead their staff on the new “Wellness Frontier,” and it’s not easy. It may not even be popular or feel natural. But we are built to do hard things, and for the sake of our staff and future generations, they need us to lead the charge.

I lead a team of around 100 employees across six locations, and it’s strenuous requiring a lot of energy. Early on, I learned that if I’m not healthy, my team and company aren’t either. 

Leaders who are not at their peak mentally can’t perform at their highest level. Recent studies have shown that C-Suite individuals who report poor mental health often feel less engaged, distracted and apathetic and experience decreased productivity. This can impact a company’s short-term and long-term success when entire teams and departments are not being led efficiently or in a healthy way.                                                                                                    

Another layer of concern is that C-Suite executives and company leaders often carry the responsibility of more than just their position. They carry the responsibility of each employee who reports to them as well. That’s a heavy burden for anyone to carry. A tell-tale sign of the company’s wellness culture can even be predicted based on the wellness practices of the C-Suite. In my experience, this is primarily why so many C-Suite professionals are heavily shifting their attention to mental well-being in the workplace. A savvy corporate wellness consultant can help identify the current company culture, identify mental health pain points, and help develop a customized, sustainable plan to improve productivity and retention. Wellness incentives such as offering wellness coaches, stipends to offset the cost of mental health services, earning self-care days, and flexible work schedules are just a few of the now standard wellness benefits most large companies offer. 

Though an effective wellness culture begins with the C-Suite, it’s important to then focus on creating staff engagement across the company. 

Our company had a mindfulness competition one month, which is somewhat of an oxymoron, but we rewarded staff members who implemented mindfulness techniques while “on the job.” This was a fun, engaging, and inexpensive option that staff still reference. This was accomplished by using an app that guided and tracked the mindfulness minutes the employees conducted. Our goal was to help our staff both professionally and personally by developing habits they could easily incorporate into their everyday work lives. 

Most of us limit our wellness stereotypes of gym use and physical checkups. The reality is that it’s learning to regulate and organize our thoughts, behaviors, and actions that make us successful, productive, and a great asset to a company’s mission. This means giving staff opportunities to learn and practice emotional regulation and activities that address what I call the Four Areas of Wellness. 

I developed this concept in response to what I witnessed across my various clients. For decades, I’ve worked with children, teens and adults from varying backgrounds, struggling with various issues. I have worked with the CEOs and presidents of companies. I’ve worked with the workers on barge decks. I’ve worked with the 9-to-5ers. Here’s what I noticed: employees who were more resilient, more productive and had more overall joy were healthy in these four areas of their lives.  

Emotional Health: learning to identify, organize, process and regulate emotions.

Physical Health: incorporating ways to improve and increase physical activity and movement to increase physical health and performance.

Spiritual Health: developing a practice of gratitude, mindfulness, and exploration of a faith-based mindset.

Financial Health: setting financial safety and security goals and moving from focusing on basic needs to future fiscal prosperity. 

By offering activities that address these four areas, you’re on track to building a more productive, healthy work environment. But, these activities must be personalized to your company’s industry, human resources issues, and staff. What works for my marine industry groups will not work for my surgeon friends.

This mindset is replacing the office ping pong tables and arcade games set-up of yesterday. While once enticing, these types of recreational office activities do not address, nor improve employees’ mental health. They may add a layer of novelty, but they don’t address some of the real reasons for decreased productivity, attendance, and performance.

How does a company redesign not only the wellness culture but also the physical space to accommodate the landscape of the ever-growing hybrid in-person and remote work options? 

You start by finding an economical way of replacing the outdated, traditional office space with its floor-to-ceiling gray cubicles and harsh fluorescent lighting. It’s by redesigning what work physically and emotionally looks like to encourage productivity and improve staff wellbeing. 

After working in inpatient hospital psychiatric units for many years, I became aware of how subtle changes such as music, colors, art, scents and live plants could impact the mood of chronically ill patients and veteran staff. 

Once I started my own company, I took this knowledge and applied it to our various outpatient facilities. It wasn’t long before our “vibe” became a hiring tool, as many new employees shared that they factored in the appeal of the physical environment they would spend long hours working in. Transforming small spaces into “quiet areas” or “charging stations” is especially helpful for most industries and allows employees to have a space to gather their thoughts, reduce chronic stimulation and practice regulating their thoughts, moods, and behaviors. 

The goal is to decrease stress and employee conflict. It’s realistic to say this can be achieved by simply carving out a tiny space and a few minutes daily. Think about the appeal of a resort or spa immediately after you enter. The physical components prepare you to change your mindset to relax and recharge. No, you aren’t building a spa-like atmosphere but a space that sometimes promotes creativity, productivity, teamwork and even rest. It’s important to note that a recent study by Work Mind said that 95% of in-office employees would like to see improvements made in their physical office space. These were minor changes like paint colors and textures and creating areas to charge their phone or to take a moment to break away from the glare of a computer screen or busy public clientele. 

For the most effective results, it’s important to request input from a wellness consultant to decide what areas of wellness you can successfully focus on and provide a change for your staff. I encourage any company of any size to prioritize employee wellness, learn about the various options, implement the resources and tools in an inexpensive but effective manner, and encourage the C-Suite to be the leaders in the new “Wellness Frontier.” But, even if you’re not in the C-Suite, you can still be the leader in your own life and family for wellness. The new frontier will be the key to employee productivity, performance, retention, and satisfaction. It’s time for your company and employees to live their best life.   

Article written by Shelly O’Neal –Wellness Consulting

Shelly O’Neal is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, therapist and wellness consultant. Her undeniable understanding of the corporate landscape has made her one of the most sought-after wellness counselors for C-suite employees, entrepreneurs and other high-profile leaders and individuals. Throughout her career Shelly has refined her processes to reflect instruction by leadership rather than motivation, believing motivation is an internal response, while leadership promotes external action.

The post The New Wave of Corporate Wellness: How CEOs, HR Departments and Employees Are Benefiting  appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.