What is corporate wellness? Sometimes referred to as “workplace wellness,” corporate wellness is usually regarded as any company-promoted activity or policy that is designed and implemented to improve the health and well-being of the organization’s employees.
This could include everything from the water cooler in the corner and a healthy vending machine to a company gym membership or mandatory exercise in the workplace. The policies and activities that make up corporate wellness vary greatly between institutions and no two corporate wellness programs are the same or equally effective.
Corporate Wellness and Carol Dweck’s Growth-Mindset
Research psychologist, Carol Dweck’s popular theory of the “growth mindset” first focused on students, education, and the ability to successfully learn. Her theories were quickly and effectively translated to the workplace.
If you are not familiar with the growth mindset — the theory Dweck presented in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success — Dweck posits that individuals who regard their intelligence and abilities as dynamic and flexible, rather than static or fixed, are more likely to learn, improve and achieve greater levels of success.
In a corporate setting, a growth mindset can be a little tricky to implement due to traditionally risk-averse business practices, such as seeking talent (rather than potential), rewarding results (rather than attempts), encouraging workplace competition (rather than collaboration), and only implementing tried-and-true ideas (rather than encouraging innovation).
In a recent article, Dweck wrote:
“A company that plays the talent game makes it harder for people to practice growth-mindset thinking and behavior, such as sharing information, collaborating, innovating, seeking feedback, or admitting errors.”
When a company implements a true growth mindset, it eliminates stress and anxiety related to the fear of failure and inadequacy. The growth mindset creates the space that allows individuals to freely develop into the best employees they can be, learning and succeeding through collaborations, attempts, and failures.
So, what does this have to do with corporate wellness?
Growth Mindset and Its Role in Corporate Wellness
Corporate wellness goes beyond incentives. While providing employees with fair compensation and bonuses will improve the overall morale in your office, it will only go so far. True corporate wellness focuses on the whole individual, as a person not just an employee. Instituting a corporate wellness program that seeks to improve every aspect of your staff’s health will be much more impactful, than a one-time monetary bonus, to your employees in the long-run.
A successful corporate wellness program not only evolves out of leadership having a growth mindset, but encourages that same mindset throughout the company. A healthy corporate wellness program begins from a healthy corporate culture.
You can begin to create a positive culture in the workplace with work-centric goals, a focus on the growth mindset, and ample incentives and opportunities, but a true corporate wellness program goes further than rewarding employees and encouraging them to better themselves for the good of the company. Workplaces with true corporate wellness programs focus on the overall maintenance and well-being of their greatest asset — their employees.
The Mental and Emotional Approach to Corporate Wellness
Stress, fear and anxiety are all normal emotions. Though typically perceived as negative, these emotions can sometimes be beneficial: letting you know when you’re in a dangerous situation, helping you escape or motivating you to overcome challenges.
Chronic stress, however, experienced regularly (perhaps every day) can hinder cognitive function (reasoning, memory, and focus) and takes a serious toll on physical health. In fact, chronic stress suppresses the function of the body’s major systems, such as the digestive, reproductive and immune systems. In addition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, individuals subject to long-term stress are more likely to develop conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.
Safeguard your employees from stress in the workplace, reduce their sick days, and improve their creativity and productivity by taking steps to promote employee well-being. Depending on your specific workplace, these efforts will vary, but might include:
- Offering team-building activities to strengthen interpersonal bonds and work through conflicts
- Creating clear systems of communication
- Expecting a reasonable balance between work and home life
- Planning corporate activities and events
- Providing opportunities for growth and improvement
The Physical Approach to Corporate Wellness
Even if efforts to reduce work-related chronic stress fall short, physical exercise might actually protect the body from the harmful physical side effects of stress and anxiety, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health. During exercise, the body releases hormones which help protect and block the body from the harmful hormones produced by stress.
In addition to releasing the feel-good hormones that improve your mood and shield your body from stress, physical exercise also imparts other health benefits, such as:
- Reduced risk cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes and metabolic disease
- Reduced risk of certain cancers
- Weight control and reduced risk of obesity
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Improved confidence
To encourage better health and more productivity, many companies in Japan have introduced exercise, stretching, and increased activity into the workday. Since making the change, companies with mandatory exercise during the day have employees with fewer sick days, improved customer service, and reduced health insurance costs.
If your company simply can’t fit exercise into the day, consider starting a workplace wellness challenge, transforming an unused space into an office gym, or offering opportunities for wellness checks and health monitoring. You could also talk to your local health clubs about special workplace promotions and corporate memberships.
3 Pillars of a Comprehensive Corporate Wellness Program
1. Focus on Physical Health
To keep your employees’ bodies in top shape and provide them with the fuel they need to function, corporate wellness should promote daily exercise and stretching, as well as proper nutrition, sleep, and hydration.
2. Foster Mental/Emotional Well-Being
This is a big category, as it involves mental and emotional health, happiness, and satisfaction in the workplace and at home. For employees to achieve a true sense of well-being, they must have the ability to meet their priorities, fulfill their goals, and maintain a healthy work/home life balance. Well-being involves mitigating stress and anxiety during the workday, providing ample opportunities for growth and improvement, and creating a healthy corporate culture.
Implementing an effective corporate wellness program is not an easy task for anyone — neither management, nor employees. Be sure you take the time to reflect on the company’s achievements as a whole, as well as providing recognition for individual wellness achievements throughout your organization.
So What Is Corporate Wellness to Your Company?
So, now ask yourself again: what is corporate wellness for you? When it comes to implementing a corporate wellness program, there’s no wrong place to begin, except not to begin at all. You might offer healthy snacks, join us for the next Whole Life Challenge, or maybe build a gym and meditation room in the office.
No matter where your organization starts, when it comes to corporate wellness, even a little effort is better than no effort. When you care about your employees’ health and well-being, then your employees will know they are truly valued in their positions and will be motivated to work even harder.