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Defining Wellness to Support the Whole Employee

In recent years, our industry has been seeing a shift of creating wellness programs focused on “health” to crafting “wellbeing” strategies in a more inclusive and holistic approach. But what does it really mean to support the “whole” employee?
A good place to start is to define what “wellness” and/or “wellbeing” means to your organization. You will find these terms defined in a multitude of ways, but the common theme is that wellness is a layered and multi-dimensional concept that taps into people’s potential to thrive in all aspects of life. The key questions to ask: How does your organization define it? What pillars or categories are most important to your leaders? Is wellness embedded in your company’s vision, mission, and values? Does it connect with the overall business strategy?
Some definitions to consider:
  • Definition of Wellness (WELCOA)
    • The active pursuit to understand and fulfill your individual human needs--which allows you to reach a state where you are flourishing and able to realize your full potential in all aspects of life.
    • Health, Meaning, Safety, Connection, Achievement, Growth, Resiliency
  • 5 Elements of Well-Being (Gallup)
    • Career, Social, Financial, Physical, Community
  • 6 Dimensions of Wellness (National Wellness Institute)
    • Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.
    • Physical, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual, Emotional, Occupational

Need inspiration? WCWI has a Well Practice featuring a collection of vision statements created by wellness committees throughout Wisconsin to support their organization's wellness program.  View WCWI Resource

With guidance from your organization’s definition of wellness, how are the initiatives, resources, and policies within your organization supporting its employees’ wellbeing?  A few examples are provided below:
  • In collaboration with the scheduling department and floor managers, production employees get an extra break each week to utilize the on-site clinic to visit with the physical therapist.
  • Employees are encouraged to participate in a mentorship program to provide skills and foster autonomy to move up in their role, or expand their skillset in other areas of the company.  
  • Company-wide volunteering opportunities can not only strengthen relationships among colleagues, but also provide connections with the local community.
  • An organization valuing mental wellness and resiliency may fund employees to receive peer support training so they can be facilitators to talk with colleagues about high-stress experiences, struggles, and challenges.
  • A company that values compassion and empathy might provide paid family leave and bereavement leave policies to support employees during time of loss, such as BSG | BSGA | HJI. View WCWI Resource
In what ways can your organization support employees in multiple aspects of their life?

Angeline Day, MPH, CHES
Program Manager
Learn more about me.

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