Annalie Howling, London’s leading Executive Coach and Director of Incasa Consulting Ltd writes for WL about the impact of corporate wellness.

It is well known that in today’s workplaces the subject of wellness is having its time at the top of the corporate agenda. Organisations have an ethical responsibility to ensure that their workforce is physically and mentally able to deliver to increasing demands of their energy and time.

In a world where absenteeism is no longer an issue (when did you last actually have a day off sick without checking an email or taking some calls) it is a new term ‘presenteeism’ and how we navigate this successfully that has become the responsibility of our leadership teams. We need to increase performance of our employees and organisation whilst ensuring that our people aren’t facing burn out.

Organisations are increasingly adding wellness benefits to their reward packages for employees. However, these benefits are often seen as entitlements and most wellness initiatives become little more than a passing fad with no tangible improvement in employee’s overall health and especially work / life balance being achieved.

The subject of wellness is edgy and it can make people feel very vulnerable. When you hear the term wellness we often think of mental and physical health, weight & fitness. These are all extremely personal subjects and we are being asked to share them with our peers and bosses when most people would struggle to share these with their own friends and families. With the rise of social media especially highly visual platforms such as Instagram readily on hand to remind people of the ‘ideal’; corporate wellness needs to be handled with care.

Wellness is not one, but many elements relating to a healthy state of body and mind that are completely unique to each individual. Organisations have the tricky task of finding broad health & wellness initiatives and programmes that can meet as many core elements of the wider wellness agenda for all of their employees whilst working within budgetary restrictions.

Leaders should look at using the new wellness initiatives as an investment in forums for development.  What information is being shared here that is not available in more formal settings? Can new ideas be generated and relationships with the senior leadership team strengthened and new lines and styles of communication built and resilience for difficult times established?

Employees in turn should challenge for improvements that will boost the culture of wellness whilst moving away from the culture of entitlement and instead acting as champions of the wellness initiatives. By creating shared accountability and internal support networks employees will be able to meet their individual, team and organisational wellness goals.

It is a courageous act to change the status quo and for employees leaving early for the first time in months to get to a gym class or diarising a talk on mindfulness and declining a meeting invitation for most is a leap into the unknown. Courage is an external force and we learn this from the actions of leaders who can ensure that employees feel not only encouraged but empowered to thrive whilst enjoying the support and continual development that corporate wellness offers.

Contact Wellness London for more information on Annalie’s Leadership Programmes here.

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