4 Ways to Build a Wellness Culture at Work

In today’s modern workplace, contributing to the wellness of your employees goes far beyond offering health and fitness programs. Sure, coworking with your dog, having an onsite gym or providing catered healthy lunches can be nice perks. But they carry little value when employees are stressed, not engaged in their work, or don’t have enough time off.

A truly healthy workplace begins with a company culture that prioritizes wellness. These days, wellness isn’t limited to fitness and nutrition, but instead extends to mental health, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. While this hasn’t always been the case in previous generations, today’s workforce is largely comprised of millennials. The millennial generation is shaking up traditional workplace environments and encouraging companies to rethink their current culture and business practices.

While a wellness culture may appear to be solely focused on the happiness of employees, it’s also beneficial to the company in the long run. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, 89% of employees at companies that support employee wellness are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. Not only will your employees be happier with a strong wellness culture, but your company will develop a positive reputation--a win-win all around.

If you want to create a healthier and happier workplace, then here are four ways to build a wellness culture at work.

Prioritize autonomy 

Employees today seek more autonomy, or freedom, in the workplace. Research has shown that job satisfaction increases when employees have more responsibility over their work. This is largely due to the fact that more and more, people are placing greater emphasis on producing meaningful work that contributes to the bigger picture of an organization, or even the world.

To solve this, it’s important that leaders and managers refrain from micromanaging their team. Not only does micromanaging cause added stress, but it can also limit an employee’s creativity and freedom. By offering more autonomy in how and when someone does their work, you’re giving them the chance to work at a pace that’s most productive to them which will result in them producing their best work.

Encourage time off and activities outside of work

Work-life balance is a major contributing factor to an employee’s well-being. In today’s workplace, research shows that 61% of employees are burned out at their job. Burnout--which is the result of working too much--can lead to a decline in both physical and mental health, which can drastically affect an employee’s overall happiness. A happier, healthier employee will no doubt be more engaged at work, so strive to implement practices that support this.

Instead of encouraging more hours spent on a project or at work, provide your team with manageable deadlines and provide plenty of opportunity for breaks. It’s also necessary to allow employees plenty of time away from work, whether that’s for vacation or a personal day.

It’s also easy to make work your entire life. We spend the majority of our time at work, so it’s only natural that we spend a lot of time thinking about it when we’re not at the office. This is why it’s important to have hobbies, activities, or side hustles outside of work--and even more important for a company to encourage this in their culture. When employees feel like they have the support and freedom to enjoy activities outside of work, they’ll return to work feeling more satisfied and engaged.

Offer more flexibility 

More and more, employees are seeking greater flexibility at work. Not everyone is able to function on a 9-5 schedule. By offering more flexibility, you’re opening up the opportunity for employees to get work done when they’re the most productive which will result in an overall productivity boost for the entire company.

Allowing employees to work outside of the office some amount of time during the week can give them a little breathing room and ease some of the burdens of everyday life while boosting productivity. You can even purchase coworking memberships to give employees an added perk. Even just one day a week can give them more time to be with their families and enjoy working from the comforts of home, while also boosting their happiness and morale upon their return to the office.

Inclusion and collaboration 

Everyone enjoys feeling like they are a part of the team. Feeling more included in the workplace can directly impact the well-being of an employee, so it’s crucial to make sure everyone knows they have a voice. Meetings can play a big part in strengthening relationships and promoting an inclusive environment by making sure everyone's voice is heard. Try experimenting with different meeting styles and group sizes to find a combination that is optimal for your team. For example, meetings with a large group size may lead to only the loudest people being heard, while smaller groups can allow more reserved teammates a chance to communicate their ideas.

Office design can also contribute to a more inclusive environment. Thanks to startup culture, there’s been a rise in open office design in recent years. (Like our coworking space, Impact Hub Austin). While this type of design is intended to encourage a more unified and collaborative environment, it’s not conducive to everyone’s work style. If you have an open office design, then it’s important to carve out other spaces in the office where people who prefer a quieter environment can retreat to. This ensures everyone has a chance to be their most productive, no matter their preferred work style or environment.