Wellness and well-being are two words that are often used interchangeably. While one is all about the physical state, the other expands above and beyond. Read on to understand this from our regular columnist, Harini Sreenivasan with inputs from Himani Kende.
Even in the midst of the pandemic and the lockdown, somethings must go on, I thought, as I read the last pages of a book before falling asleep. A few minutes later I heard loud voices, almost like two people were engaged in a heated argument. Curious to know more, I craned my neck and twitched my ear in the direction of the sound. My old colleague, Mr. Wellness was in a verbal duel with our newly on-boarded Mr. Well-being.
Wellness: Look here, I am the most important one around. In my presence, there is no worry. It is extremely important that I am taken care of very well. There is no compromise on my maintenance irrespective of budget cuts. Why do you think annual medical checkups happen and are taken so seriously?
Well-being: I do get it. But all that I am saying is that simply spending on diagnosing the health of employees is not enough. It certainly calls for investment on their holistic healthy future in the organisation. And that is precisely why I am here!
Wellness: Hah! Isn’t it obvious that if I am around, your presence will be automatically felt? I just don’t get what the fuss is all about making this investment to get you on-board!
Well-being: Don’t get so judgemental my friend. You are of course very important. But talking about work and workplace stress, it is beyond you to repair the damage caused. Let me explain how and why this is so.For organisational excellence, having healthy employees at work is not enough. They have to be happy as well. Click To Tweet
Rather than focusing on physical health alone, an employer’s understanding of how I am present i.e. its workforce’s “well-being” should expand to include elements such as mental health, emotional health, financial security, professional fulfilment and social connectivity.
Now, to answer your question, “Should the business adopt a well-being initiative? I am sure you will agree, the answer is yes. When an employee brings her or his entire self to work, there is engagement. That happens only when I am around.
Wellness: Hah! So you think you can do without me? Healthy employees alone will make happy workplaces.
Well-being: No, no! you have got me completely wrong. What I do is expand the view of wellness to cover more than the physical body, encompassing an employee’s mental and emotional state as well as their productivity and ability to perform at the peak of their capabilities. Haven’t you heard of some organisations that even consider employees’ financial health and the strength of their social networks to be part of their overall well-being?
Because my scope is more inclusive than yours, well-being programs are essential for relieving stress at the workplace.
Wellness: It will help if you can throw more light on your initiatives.
Well-being: Ok, let’s take vacations, as an example. It is always associated with an escape from work but in reality, it is the best teacher that helps employees reflect on their work and return rejuvenated. Making vacations an integral part of the employee lifecycle is one to start with. While travel not only exposes one to learn about its surroundings but also learns to adapt around people. Various camps more or less have the same learning outcomes, it’s the environment and its activities in which they will be exposed to that matters. Wildlife opens your conscience to all Nature’s elements. Art & Culture gives your creative minds a chance to be exposed to the history and community. Adventure and High Altitude Trekking brings confidence and responsibility. Travelling provides employees with the essential break that’s required to rejuvenate and get back to work with a better mind.
Wellness: So you say vacations improve well-being. What about the loss of productivity due to such absenteeism? How does one handle all that? Instead, if you have healthy employees, they wouldn’t want to take a break at all. Won’t that help?
Well-being: Haha, again you are missing the point. Letting employees take vacations is just the methodology. The underlying message is actually a lot deeper.By letting employees plan their work and leisure on their own, the organisation is actually reinforcing trust. Managers who trust that their team members understand the deliverables and can plan their work have fewer problems. Click To Tweet
See the impact on the behaviour of the employee when the manager is extremely trusting. He or she takes the complete initiative to drive work and takes complete accountability to complete it too. Here is a team that scores high on well-being than on mere wellness because each person is able to bring his or her whole self to work. Isn’t that great?
Wellness: I am still not sure how it will work. Inducing behavioural changes is not an easy task. And how are you going to be a part of this change management? I don’t see the connection.
Well-being: Well, it is all about changing the perspective of what I am all about. I need to coach people at all levels that a feeling of well-being comes when organisations treat people as people. organisations will need to prioritize interactions over processes, keep guidelines for people so that they are able to work with freedom. They would be required to be able to move away from rigid procedures and practice evolving procedures on the go. It doesn’t come that easy though. It requires organisations to re-think the way they work. Just a mere re-thinking won’t bring me in and keep me retained. It has to be followed diligently as practices.
I look forward to co-existing with you, my friend. Together, we make a great pair…imagine an organisation that has both Wellness and Well-being working in unison! Wouldn’t that be an organisation to dream about?
Of course, that was a dream! The last few words by Well-being shook me up from my sleep and I jumped out into another new day to convert this dream to a reality!