How to build resilience to boost well-being

Analysis by the Global Wellness Institute has shown that 76% of the world's workers are struggling with well-being issues. But there are ways you can prepare yourself to weather the current statistical storm.

Around the world, a growing number of people grapple with health challenges, and more employers are attempting to help. In fact, it’s estimated that the corporate wellness market in Australia alone is worth $61 million. Think yoga classes, weight-loss programs, health assessments, nutrition seminars, mindfulness, healthy snacks and much more.

Exercise can help

As addiction to our screens continues to grow, the need to move more has never been more critical, says Mark McKeon of Mischief, Motivation, Attitude - a company that works with more than 60 of the top ASX 100 companies to implement workplace wellness solutions.

Encouraging employees to take part in fitness activities, from team games to boot camps, or standing desks to treadmills, is fundamental to employee wellness and long-term productivity, says McKeon.

He believes taking regular stretching or walking breaks, as well as eating lunch away from the desk, should also be non-negotiables.

Stress and mindfulness

One in five Australians a year is battling a mental health disorder – anxiety, depression and immune suppression among the growing list of challenges.

On top of this, mental illness costs the Australian economy $60 billion a year, according to KPMG and Mental Health Australia3. Addressing the problem with corporate wellness programs offers enormous potential savings to businesses.

Resilience and positive psychology training, talks on stress management and work life balance, and even nap spaces are some program options.

Companies including Optus, Fitness First, IBM, Seek, Swisse, BP, Google and Virgin Australia offer their employees the chance to develop mindfulness while other leading employers, including CommBank, give staff access to psychological advice.

CommBank also provides employees with digital resources that allow them to check up on medical assessments, skin cancer checks and hearing tests; get nutritional advice; and access TED talks, articles and action plans on wellness.

The care factor

While any wellness initiative is good news for employees and employers – with the potential to return $1.30 to $4.70 for every $1 invested – studies now suggest it may produce benefits simply because it is provided. 

In the fight against mental-health challenges, what has a powerful impact on employees is identifying their company as “caring about their health/wellness,” says Susie Ellis, CEO of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

When they do, their overall health, stress levels and job engagement improve significantly, she says.

In a study on workplace wellness, the GWI found that the tangible aspects of caring, whether they were fair pay or a wellness-oriented workplace, were less important than emotional, intellectual and relationship intangibles, including work flexibility and an honest company culture.

The future of corporate wellness

McKeon agrees. “The workplace wellness movement is now going beyond initiatives such as fitness classes. Increasingly, it’s about engagement and making people feel valued, and recognition that one size does not fit all.

“If you offer healthy food or workout opportunities, but employees feel pressured to be at the office until 8pm every night, that underlying culture will still add up to high turnover and high costs.

“Employees need to feel they have control over what they’re doing.”

McKeon says forward-thinking companies are now drawing up “personal development plans” to incorporate all well-being touch points – physical, emotional and mental.

These new agreements encourage employees to take responsibility for all aspects of their work life, including not only career advancement but total well-being.