Thinking about wellness.

Creating a culture of Wellness

Constantly striving to attain a feeling of wellness!

When we think about wellness. Many variations come to mind as it relates to being healthy and fit. In fact, there are as many definitions of “wellness” as there are organizations committed to its existence. Industry professionals describe wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” While others think about wellness as “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.” Wellness as described by The Wellness Councils of America or “WELCOA” also has included seven benchmarks that define wellness in a holistic vision: health, meaning, safety, connection, achievement, growth, and resiliency.

Other perspectives on wellness and culture include “a sense that one is functioning at his or her best level and a conscious and constant pursuit to live life to the fullest.

While definitions of wellness may vary, we observe common threads throughout each one. Wellness is regarded as an active process focused on behavior change that facilitates the development of an individual’s whole health. Therefore, creating a culture of wellness is also a conscious, active process that aims to foster an environment capable of supporting and nurturing healthy habits. A culture of wellness isn’t established or developed overnight. Rather, it is an evolutionary process that takes strategy, thoughtful consideration and culture coaching.

Judd Allen, Ph.D., and president of the Human Resources Institute, LLC, has focused his career on creating supportive cultures and believes that groups, communities, and organizations are more likely to achieve personal health and professional productivity objectives if they are supported at work. He claims there are five dimensions of creating a supportive culture of wellness:

  • Shared values or priorities
  • Cultural norms or established expectations within an organization or community
  • Touchpoints or social mechanisms similar to policies and procedures
  • Peer support or employees helping employees
  • Climate or sense of employee morale and teamwork

To Dr. Allen, these are all the elements that make up an organization’s culture. To read more about his insight, view his expert interview with WELCOA.

Here are some aspects to keep in mind as you engage in discussions surrounding good work within your own organization or community.

Step 1: Measure the Culture

Does your organization or facility have a “well at work” mentality? Conduct a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths and opportunities within your organization. This approach allows you to critically examine the existing culture. You might also consider using an instrument to gather quantitative data and hold focus groups to uncover the more qualitative aspects of the existing culture.

Step 2: Identify Your Wellness Warriors

Developing a culture of wellness takes a team approach. Who do you have in your organization that could serve as wellness warriors and champions? Seek out a group of three to five people who could be members of team wellness that can provide peer support to others.

Step 3: Define Wellness

As we’ve already seen, definitions of wellness and culture will vary by organization and entity. Wellness means something different to each individual. Therefore, your organization must define what a “culture of wellness” looks like at your organization. What does it entail? What does it look like? How will you know when it’s been achieved?

Step 4: Include a Broad Focus

When considering how to develop or enhance a culture of wellness, don’t limit your thinking to physical health parameters (including wellness blood draws, physicals, etc.). Employee wellness encompasses more than a single dimension. Rather, employee wellness is and should be considered holistic and requires a multidimensional approach that targets areas such as stress management, ergonomics, mental health, nutrition, fitness, and employee satisfaction.

Step 5: Develop Your Wellness Toolkit

After taking the initial first steps to examine the culture, identify wellness coaches or champions and define what wellness means to your organization, it’s time to put together a wellness toolkit or program that is as unique to your company as it is to the individuals within it. It’s not necessary to have the entire program developed and implemented from the start. Begin with small initiatives that grow over time and build upon each other so that eventually, wellness is the culture. Wellness is a unique journey and should be respected as such when shaping the culture of an organization. An organization is made up of individual people with varying needs and concerns; addressing those concerns holistically is paramount to nurturing a supportive culture of wellness.

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