How are you doing? Are you feeling okay?
2020 was a year like no other. Offices were closed, jobs were lost, and the world was forced into isolation. It was hard—really, really hard. Particularly for EAs, your worlds were turned upside down. For people who are used to planning, organising and mitigating risk, the unpredictable nature of this new ‘normal’ might feel unnatural and it’s okay if you’re feeling affected by that.
Handling the crisis that is going on around you is no easy feat and everyone in this world has been affected by it. You might feel like last year’s remote working kept you isolated from your executive; you might feel like your connection was affected by that. Or you might just be struggling to handle the uncertainty of it all. And that is completely okay.
But what is your organisation doing to help you? Are they looking after your wellness? Your wellness at work and outside of work should be top of your company’s list of priorities. How you feel and how you’re handling this new world matters the most and taking care of your wellness isn’t just up to you.
With the average Australian adult spending 1/3 of their life at work, it’s imperative your companies are investing in wellness. As your company begins their business recovery remember that crises leave a lasting impact far past the business’ recovery alone. Now is the time to re-evaluate your company’s approach to wellness and consider whether your executive’s and their companies are doing all they can to look after their employees. Do they have a corporate wellness program in place? Are they trying to boost team morale and connectivity? Have they provided the necessary support you need to look after your health?
While it may sound easy, corporate wellness programs aren’t an afterthought. A good program isn’t just a day off or a team dinner; the amount of wellness categories is abundant and each one plays a different role in boosting employee wellness and productivity.
What is a corporate wellness program?
The goal of a wellness program strives to keep employees healthy to facilitate a better work environment and can span a range of health categories. Once before it might only have been important to consider physical health, but now a healthy worker means they need to take care of themselves mentally and emotionally, maybe even spiritually, too.
Every organisation is different, which means that each wellness program will be different, too. It’s important to consider the wants and needs of your own employees and customise the program to benefit the company as best it can. Online job seeker siteIndeed’s Career Guide outlines four main points to consider when planning a program.
- Consider the size of the business
When planning a wellness program, the size of the business will be a huge factor in deciding what to invest. Consider which options will be the most cost-effective for the company but will also be the most beneficial for employees. Larger corporations will obviously be able to invest more money into wellness but that doesn’t mean smaller corporations can’t have a highly beneficial program. It’s all relative to the company and its employees.
- Ask employees what they want
This step is imperative in the planning stage. Without consulting your company’s employees, you’re almost guaranteed to waste money on a program that won’t be effective. While generously providing gym memberships to all staff might seem like a great idea, not every employee will utilise this benefit. The easiest way to tackle this is to send out a survey and have the employees tell you exactly what benefits they want and need.
- Make the program simple
This point relates to a couple of different factors when planning. Whether your company decides to provide an ongoing benefit like a gym membership or fitness class reimbursement, make the process easy. Don’t make your employees jump through hoops just to get the benefits because nine times out of ten they won’t be bothered to go through with it. On the other hand, if you’re planning a corporate wellness retreat or event, make the itinerary simple, too. Wellness can mean a lot of things but most importantly, it’s all about taking a step outside of the fast-paced, pressure-riddled atmosphere of the office and improving employees’ health. Don’t pack the program with activities from 6am to 8pm—allow them the chance to breathe and take it all in.
- Add it to the employee handbook
Like point number three, benefits should be easy. All of the wellness benefits your company decides to provide should be outlined clearly in an employee handbook or somewhere that everyone can access. Clarify exactly what employees are entitled to and how they can access it all. After all, wellness benefits shouldn’t create more stress and anxiety.
Prevention vs Cure
With 2020 forcing the world to slow down and take a break, it became evident just how easy it is to become trapped in the rat race that is modern life. It’s become the norm to work long hours, not take breaks and view time off as laziness. But what is this rat race doing to your health?
The world has become conditioned to view hard work and burning yourself out as the same thing and if you’re not prepared to do that to be successful, you mustn’t want it bad enough. But with the lockdown forcing people back into their homes, it brought with it a realisation of how dangerous this mentality is. Many businesses have been looking after their employees’ health by offering a cure for health and wellness issues. But shouldn’t the priority be offering options to prevent a decrease in employee wellness?
International wellness company Vantage Fit’s guide to wellness points out that many organisations offer a corporate wellness program that offers paid insurance covers, extended medical leaves or subsidized healthcare services. While these benefits are generous, they are only helpful after an employee has suffered from major health issues.
Modern organisations should be designing a corporate wellness program that focuses on preventing health issues in the workplace, not just curing them. Ideally, a corporate wellness program will focus on the long-term benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. They should provide examples of healthier lifestyle choices that can be easily sustained and managed, and directly improve employees’ health before the inevitable burn out—offer a method of prevention, not a cure.
Healthy living is a long-term project, not a snap solution to fix an immediate problem. Your organisation’s corporate wellness program should be a pathway to a lifestyle that can be sustained beyond the office walls.
What are the wellness options?
The term ‘wellness’ might make you think of day spas, massage treatments, and yoga, but wellness is a multi-faceted concept that covers many areas. Each form of wellness provides an opportunity to look after employees, in and outside the office. Yoga might work for one company, or nutritional and fitness advice might work for another. It’s all about researching the different options, talking to employees and considering what will have the best impact on the organisation. Here is a list of wellness categories that could suit your workplace.
On-site mobile massage service
While a spa day for the whole office sounds like a dream, it often is only that. With time spent in the office increasing every year, most organisations and employees don’t have the time to spare. But the benefits of a massage are undisputed. Massages help to reduce stress and improve employee satisfaction. Massaging is a trusted way of bringing energy and positivity back to your employees, but how do you find the time to book in each employee for a massage off-site?
But one option to consider is a mobile massage service that travels directly to your office. Delivering on-site chair massages is an easy way to reduce employee stress without the hassle of travelling to or from a spa or trying to take a chunk of time off work. This way all staff have to do is walk from their desk to the massage chair for a little break from the everyday stress. There’s no need to change, shower, or leave the workplace. A mobile massage service is normally a 10–30-minute treatment administered by a professional that relaxes the body and delivers an energy boost to employees. What better way to stay productive throughout the day? Not only will this massage benefit employees mentally, but also physically. Spending hours a day sitting down isn’t good for the body. A massage will relieve any back, shoulder or neck pain and get the blood circulating again.
While the benefits of this treatment are effective, it’s also super easy to organise from a business perspective. The logistics and cost of organising this benefit on-site makes it simple to implement.
Yoga and meditation
The wellness benefits of yoga and meditation are undeniable. Similar to massages, it allows employees a break to de-stress and resume their day in a more positive and productive mindset. There are a number of different ways yoga and meditation can be incorporated into your workplace wellness programs.
- On-site classes
If your company resides in a large office space, you’ll most likely have a spare room to offer on-site yoga classes. Whether it be in the morning, lunchtime or after work hours, yoga is a great way to get employees moving and to de-stress from the pressure of work. Even if your organisation is working from home, virtual yoga classes are an option to offer employees to make sure their health and wellbeing is being looked after outside of the office, too.
- Yoga retreat
If your employees aren’t that keen on taking regular yoga classes, a yoga and meditation retreat could be an option that the whole office can partake in together. While logistically it may be harder to organise, setting aside a day or two for staff to step away from the office completely and focus on their wellness will only have positive impacts. While the retreat is short-term, the impact could last far longer and teach employees new habits they can carry with them back into their day-to-day lives.
Yoga and meditation might not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. But for those employees who do enjoy it and want to reap the benefits, perhaps reimbursement is a better option. By offering this benefit, it allows employees the freedom to organise their own classes and takes the pressure off your organisation to sort out the logistics of it all. But nonetheless, offering reimbursements could encourage employees to make a habit of it.
The benefits of yoga and meditation are both mental and physical. They help to relieve stress, enhance focus, and increase productivity. But they also improve your posture and digestion. Sitting or standing for long hours is hard on the body and improving posture will only make employees more productive. As for digestion, long and stressful hours in the office can lead to employees overeating or skipping meals, which confuses the digestive system and affects metabolism. Yoga is a great way to eliminate toxins and improve eating habits.
An article by AJ Agrawal on news site Huffington Post outlined 5 simple reason as to why corporate retreats are beneficial in the workplace. A corporate retreat isn’t easy to organise, and it might be difficult to nail down a day or two for everyone to step out of the office, but the benefits far surpass the negatives. If your organisation is serious about employee wellness, a retreat is the way to go. Here’s why:
- Team Building
Agrawal explains that the modern world is geared mainly towards the individual. It focuses on individual success and hard work and experiences—which can be problematic when trying to bring a team together. In the competitive world that is 2021, people are always looking for better opportunities to progress in life and this can make retaining employees difficult. But an effective way to increase employee satisfaction and retention is to make them feel like they’re a part of a family. Retreats are great way to bond and get to know one another outside of the office. Shared experiences always make a group feel closer and therefore, more trusting and productive in the office. And after many days in isolation last year, employees are craving connection. This is also something to invest in inside the office and on a regular basis, too.
- Escape the environment
While it may be easier for a company to offer on-site wellness benefits for maximum convenience, getting out of the stress ball atmosphere of the office is a valuable tool. Removing employees from a stressful environment allows them to fully relax and decompress, therefore making them happier and much more productive when they return to work.
- Boost company morale
The mindset of employees is the difference between succeeding and not. Just because someone is being paid to be there, doesn’t mean they’re happy to be there. A common employee mindset is that they’re doing their job because they ‘have to’ not because they ‘want to’. This mindset will never allow an employee to reach their full potential and will therefore prevent an organisation from doing the same. A corporate retreat shows that your company cares about the wellbeing of employees and is happy to reward its workers for all of their support and hard work.
- A chance to reflect
Employee performance won’t improve without some time to reflect. If your staff are always on the go and working non-stop, there’s no time for reflection at all. Without looking back on their performance and considering things that went well, what didn’t and how they can improve, the organisation’s performance is bound to plateau, or worse. A corporate retreat encourages employees to reflect individually and as a team—which will set the performance of your company on an upwards trajectory.
- Get to know your team
With employees spending majority of their time around their peers only while at work, it doesn’t allow for the most authentic bonding experiences. They know each other’s work personality but that’s not necessarily who they are in life. Doing the same things day in and day out removes the chance to realise their peers’ talent and potential or even friendships. Corporate retreats allow employees to engage in experiences that wouldn’t normally occur in the office. This allows people to bond over shared interests and get to know one another on a personal level. This creates trust in the team and helps employees feel more comfortable and happier at work.
Fitness and nutritional advice
There’s no denying that nothing makes you feel happier and more productive than a rush of endorphins and healthy eating and water consumption habits. But as good as it feels to have a regular routine, it’s also one of the hardest habits to get into. Healthy eating and drinking along with exercising regularly have numerous benefits, both physically and mentally. When stress takes over, these particular habits seem to be the things that suffer first. Similar to the yoga and meditation option, there are a few different ways your workplace can incorporate fitness and healthy living into a wellness program.
This is always the easy option. If your executives and colleagues are interested, consider offering complimentary gym memberships or reimbursing them for any fitness classes they attend. After all, taking these steps to get their bodies moving will only benefit employee wellness.
- Nutritional advice
Nutrition is a highly underrated concept, especially to busy and stressed people. If your executives and colleagues are rundown or stressed, they’re most likely not drinking enough water and are just eating for the sake of fuelling their body to work harder. But more often than not, people have no idea the importance of staying hydrated and putting the right foods in their body. Get a nutritionist into the office and educate the company as a whole. While it will benefit employee performance in the long run, it’s also going to improve employee satisfaction at work and will help them lead a happier, healthier life outside of work, too.
- On-site classes
Like mentioned in the yoga option, if you have a spare office space then why not utilise it? You can set up a fitness schedule that is flexible around working hours right next to employees’ own office. This way employees can start, continue, or end the working day with a hit of endorphins and a limber body.
- Wellness challenges
To inspire employees and executives to develop healthy habits, create some health, fitness, or even water drinking challenges. This makes it a fun experience that employees can participate in in a team or individually. Tracking these challenges could even make employees eligible for a health-related prize at the end of the month.
Mental health support
While most of these benefits have been physically based, mental health support should be the number one priority at all times. Especially after such a trying year in 2020, your company needs to be offering the adequate support to help employees take care of their mental health. Ensure that managers, EAs, executives and any senior figure is equipped to respond to mental health issues and that any adjustments to work are carried out. It’s also imperative that employees have access to counselling services, whether your company offers on-site sessions or is willing to reimburse employees for off-site support. Looking after your physical health is important, but your mental health is a major part of your overall wellness: make sure you and your workplace is making this a top priority.
While all of these wellness benefits are great additions to the company wellness program, there’s one thing that is easy to implement and costs no money at all: flexibility. Being understanding of employees’ needs and adjusting the business accordingly is paramount to looking after employee wellness. Whether that be allowing employees to take stress leave, extra time after a lunch break to recharge with a short nap, a walk outside, or quiet reading time, these small things are going to have the biggest impact on employee wellness.
Wellness is a mammoth concept with many different elements and factions to it. These are just a few simple, but effective, ideas to help your company kickstart their most effective corporate wellness program yet. While all of these suggestions will help improve your wellness, don’t forget the simplest way of connecting and supporting others: talking. Talk to your colleagues, your executive, anyone who you feel might be struggling. Even those who don’t seem to be—people are very good at hiding their true feelings. Taking the time to ask, “are you okay?” or “how are you doing?” can be all it takes to help
The Sunshine Coast ethos is wellness
The Sunshine Coast has one of the most sophisticated ranges of wellness experiences in Australia—probably spurred-on by the fact that the spiritual Glass House Mountains, which dominate the landscape, deliver earthly energy from their volcanic hearts.
The region is a natural choice for companies wanting to rejuvenate and recalibrate.
Spicers Tamarind in Maleny and Spicers Clovelly in Montville are popular with board retreats and executive training groups, who seek out time together and time away. Exclusive use of Spicers Tamarind is well suited to groups of up to 22 people who can have their private villas and come together for wellness activities, team building, fine dining, meetings and executive training. Yoga classes on the lawn are a popular activity to start the day.
The largest hotel in the region, Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort, can provide their guests with a range of on-site activities including outdoor pool and spa, catamaran sailing and kayaking on the private lagoon, water sports, mini golf, stand up paddle boarding, Xperience segway tours, bike hire, outdoor fitness centre, Twin Waters Spa, plus nearby tennis court and 18-hole golf course.
Most Sunshine Coast event management operators offer a wellness component to corporate clients. After a recovery breakfast on the beach, First Class Functions suggest creating a mini triathlon involving Noosa’s Surf Lifesavers or a guided walk in the National Park. Groups can split between activities to try something new like surf lessons at Coolum Beach or stand up paddle boarding on the Noosa River.
Guests that want to get active before or after lunch, can take part in a specially created team building challenge with Noosa DMC in a ‘Great Race Noosa Style’ or ‘Beach Olympics’, perfect half day or full day specially created events to get the heart pumping. Ikatan Spa can take care of any aches and pains with massage and treatments in their rainforest setting, and for corporate groups they customise packages depending on the schedule and budget.
For corporate groups that prefer to get active together, there is a ‘surf and cycle’ activity option from the Ohana Group. Starting with a private hot breakfast on one of the region’s many beaches, groups then have the option of taking to the waves with private guides—suited for all levels of ability. After a cold pressed juice, healthy corporates can begin their cycle, either along the coastline or inland to rainforests, cane fields and boutique villages.
For more information visit: https://www.sunshinecoastincentivetravel.com/