Workplace Wellness Festival - Takeaway #1: Soft Skills are needed now more than ever.
PowerProv founder, Eran Thomson, hosted the Expo Stage and held a mini-workshop as part of the Workplace Wellness Festival.
There were so many wonderful, thoughtful, caring, leaders and speakers at this event – all of them dedicated to helping improve the well-being of their people, teams, and overall culture.
One theme was clear throughout both days of the festival and across the panoply of speakers: Businesses need new ideas and ways to get people feeling comfortable back in the office and better at collaborating in real life.
The Importance of Workplace Wellness
What is Workplace Wellness?
Workplace Wellness (aka Workplace Wellbeing or Corporate Wellbeing) is, according to Wikipedia, a broad term used to describe activities, programs, and/or organizational policies designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace.
This can often involve benefits such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs, or facilities, and even wearable health technologies, like a smartwatch, paired with a health app.
Other common examples of workplace wellness organizational policies include allowing flex-time for exercise, providing on-site kitchen and eating areas, offering healthy food options in vending machines, fun games, holding “walk and talk” meetings, and offering financial and other incentives for participation.
Over time, the definition has expanded from single health promotion interventions to describe a larger project intended to create a healthier working environment.
This latter definition is where PowerProv comes into play.
Our fun team-building activities and workshops help teams learn to communicate, collaborate, and innovate faster and smarter. And they help instill what we call an Ensemble Philosophy or mindset where everyone can come back to work and enjoy complete psychological safety – trusting, knowing, and believing that everyone on their team has their back.
And that by agreeing to support each other’s actions, choices, and decisions, and embrace failure as the opportunity for growth and learning that it is, they will make each other look – and feel – good.
If creating this sentiment across your leadership and teams doesn’t help improve workplace wellness, what will?
Why is Workplace Well-Being important?
The LifeWorks Mental Health Index reports that “the mental health of Australians has been at a negative level for more than two years, suggesting a “reset” well below the pre-2020 benchmark.”
Participants in our recent, in-person workshops all concur that a lack of “real” human contact, connection, and collaboration has taken a toll. With 100% of people saying how nice it is to be back in a room with colleagues – many of whom they are meeting for the first time (if you don’t count Zoom).
And nearly 100% of participants also agree that over the last few years of Covid, the basic skills of human communication and collaboration have gotten rusty. Everything from eye contact, knowing when to interject (if you really must), learning to build on each other’s ideas, and listening are all areas where most of your team, whether they will admit it or not, could use a refresher.
This creates a big opportunity for you to invite PowerProv in to run a workshop to help get your teams back in the game and playing to the top of their intelligence.
What are some free Workplace Wellness activities or ideas?
There were so many ways to introduce workplace wellness on offer at the festival. Some of our favourites include:
- Yoga and Pilates classes for the office from Virgin Active.
- Meditation workshops from Centred
- Apps from Unmind and Groov
- Exercise cubes from Floe
- Cool ways to motivate and reward staff from Perkbox
- And more
How do you define Workplace Well-Being/Wellness?
The Global Wellness Institute defines workplace wellness as:
“Any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior among employees and to improve health outcomes. Sometimes known as ‘corporate wellbeing’ outside the US, it can consist of diverse activities such as on-site health education/fairs; free medical screenings; health coaching; weight loss, stress management, and smoking cessation programs; wellness communiques, on-site fitness programs and facilities; health club memberships, on-site kitchens and healthy food options, company wellness competitions; mobile and Web-based education and social platforms; and financial and other incentives for participation. Workplace wellness has been expanded over the past decade to encompass the creation of a “culture of health” within the worksite.”
We define it a bit more simply:
It’s when everyone on your team is happy, thriving, and working collaboratively to meet the business (and their professional) goals.
How do you promote Workplace Wellbeing in the workplace?
Our friends at Perkbox (mentioned above) put together a great list of 16 things you can do.
1. Provide an Employee Assistance Program
An employee assistance program (EAP) provides confidential counselling to staff to help with personal or workplace problems that are affecting their wellbeing. While they can be accessed for virtually any issue a worker may have, they are growing in popularity as a way of helping employees with the effects of anxiety, stress, and depression. Find out more about employee assistance programs and how to launch one.
2. Help employees work towards long-term goals
Helping employees develop their careers and achieve their goals is a key way of encouraging mental well-being and ensuring that staff feels satisfied with their job. In fact, 94% of workers say they would stay at their company longer if they invested more in their careers. Unfortunately, the number one reason employees don’t engage in learning is a lack of time. This is a great opportunity for managers to step in and enable staff to dedicate time to learning and development.
3. Set friendly fitness challenges
A little competition never hurt anyone! Setting up fitness challenges for your team will help motivate them to care for their physical health and develop your company’s interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s steps per month or a distance challenge, you can give your employees a goal to work towards and allow colleagues to spur one another on.
4. Introduce wellbeing-based employee benefits
Does your employee rewards program include well-being benefits that enable staff to take control of their own physical, mental and financial health? Some examples of benefits that can improve employee wellbeing include:
- Discounted gym memberships
- Discounted healthcare
- Free access to meditation apps
- Employee Access Programs
- Discounts on everyday retail items
- Salary sacrifice schemes
5. Arrange regular get-togethers
Healthy relationships with colleagues are incredibly important for wellbeing. Women who say they have a ‘best friend’ at work are more than twice as engaged in their work as those who don’t. Having a close friend at work has been linked to improved job performance for both men and women, including fewer safety incidents, higher profits, and more engaged customers.
For business leaders, this means that enabling employees to build friendships with one another through regular social events can have a positive impact on wellbeing and business outcomes. Think about it: if staff feel comfortable with their colleagues, then they’re more likely to reach out for support from them when needed, as well as just having a more enjoyable workplace experience in general.
6. Introduce designated wellbeing leaders
If nobody is directly responsible for wellbeing, then it can be easy for programs to start strong and then gradually fall off everyone’s radar. A designated wellbeing leader can monitor and maintain the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives. They can also talk to their colleagues directly to find out what’s working and what isn’t, as well as increase uptake by getting people involved and excited.
7. Encourage real breaks
It’s an all too common sight to see workers sitting at their desks during lunch, eating with one hand and typing with the other. Australians are particularly susceptible to this, with the average employee working six hours of unpaid overtime each week – approximately two months every year!
Real, regular breaks are critical to wellbeing, so encourage employees to take their lunch away from their desks and to take other breaks throughout the day as needed. They’ll come back feeling physically and mentally refreshed, and are likely to be more productive.
8. Create a comfortable work environment
Our environments greatly affect our wellbeing, so creating a pleasant and comfortable work environment for your employees will improve their physical and mental health. Sit-stand desks, healthy food and drink options, ergonomic seating, and wellness or social spaces are just some of the ways you can improve the workplace environment.
9. Reward and recognise great work
Recognising and rewarding employees for hard work can increase confidence and make people feel valued for the contributions they’re making – both important for mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’ or a reward for completing a project, there are plenty of ways to demonstrate that you appreciate your staff and give them a happiness boost.
10. Encourage staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing
Creating a culture that talks about health and wellbeing, and supports employees taking steps to improve themselves will encourage staff to prioritise their own wellbeing. A key part of this is encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Limiting overtime, turning notifications off on the weekends and evenings, and encouraging holidays are some of the ways you can help introduce some balance to your team. But the best way is to lead by example. If their boss is clocking off at 5 pm, then staff are less likely to feel pressure to stay back.
Employee wellbeing programs can have a 230% return on investment.
Other workplace wellness initiatives include…
11. Consider offering unlimited holidays
While ‘unlimited holidays’ may fill you with fear, they’ve actually been shown to be more successful than you may initially think. While companies who have offered it did see a rise in leave days taken, they also experienced increased productivity and company growth. Trusting and empowering employees to take the leave they need actually appears to have better wellbeing and business outcomes.
12. Create stronger employee-manager relationships
Managers can’t support their employees unless they know what issues they’re facing. And they won’t know unless they take the time to build a strong relationship with their staff. Making regular one-to-one meetings between managers and employees a normal part of company life will encourage open, frequent conversation and allow any issues to be addressed early.
13. Arrange wellbeing workshops
Holding workshops on mindfulness, stress management, yoga, meditation or other techniques (like PowerProv) can not only help relieve stress but also introduce employees to new ideas and activities they may enjoy.
14. Make it easy for your staff to make healthy choices
Many of us love office snacks, but they’re not always the best choice of food. Offering healthy snacks will encourage your employees to prioritise their physical wellbeing, while also reducing any post-sugar rush slumps.
15. Tweak the working routine to work for your staff
Different employees will have different working styles, schedules, and preferences. Offering flexibility to staff to craft a work routine that suits them can reduce stress and burnout while offering a greater work-life balance. It also shows employees you trust them, which is always good for wellbeing.
16. Survey your teams to find out what’s working
Employee wellbeing initiatives are for your staff, so it’s vital that you discover if they are actually working or not. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting your time, money, and energy. Collecting regular feedback from employees to determine how they’re feeling and what programs they’d like to see will help you make effective decisions and focus on what’s most important for your team. We recommend using a pulse survey provider so you can get ongoing feedback instead of collecting at only one time such as during an annual survey.
Employee wellbeing is a significant part of your workers’ overall experience at work. To learn more about how investing in employee experience can benefit your company, download Perkbox’s Ultimate Guide to a Killer Employee Experience!
Why improv for Workplace Well-Being?
Organizational creativity is the hallmark of successful teams and organizations. And the rules of improv provide the tools for increasing individual creativity, dynamically improving team performance, and creating a corporate culture of innovation. And we can prove it.
PowerProv training can also help create an environment where people are more likely to feel like their ideas are welcome. Where they can put forward what may seem like a risky idea without fear. And do so with the full confidence that their team will build on their ideas to make them even better and, importantly viable.
Here’s the thing about risk though. Our brains are wired to avoid it at all costs – so the paradox is that trying new ideas and products may require an element of risk. The good news for you is PowerProv workshops are as de-risked as you can get from a vendor you may not have worked with yet. Check our reviews and see for yourself why 100’s of successful companies rate us #1.
Our fun team-building activities will help people get better at quickly responding to new information, situations, people – or any other kind of change by improving how their brains respond to ambiguity and uncertainty – which seems to be especially important in these days of COVID-19.
In the meantime, it’s up to business leaders to provide mechanisms and incentives to celebrate success – and embrace failure as the opportunity for growth and learning that it is.
PowerProv can help…
- Businesses struggling with ambiguity and uncertainty themselves, or perhaps encountering and dealing with change.
- Leaders who are ready to jumpstart their team’s creativity, problem-solving techniques, and emotional intelligence.
- Visionaries who are ready to put action into developing and inspiring people in their organizations to communicate and collaborate like legends.
Fun without pressure to be funny
At PowerProv we never put anyone on the spot or pressure people to perform or be funny.
Our work is all about helping people be more comfortable and confident in themselves and each other. It’s fun, but the goal is not about trying to be funny. It’s about learning to be present, aware, and React, Adapt, and Communicate – the famous R.A.C.
We’re here to improve your entire organization’s mental well-being. Think of us as personalized workplace wellness coaches, without the stripey shirts or loud whistles.