When it comes to providing workplace health and wellbeing programs, today’s employers would do well to heed the advice of Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

While health and wellness benefits are nothing new, more employers are acknowledging that a healthy employee is one who has access not only to sick days and a dental plan but also to services that take care of their physical, mental, social and financial needs.

Health. Wellbeing. Wellness. There is growing awareness and appreciation among people managers that these three words have a tangible connection to employee productivity, engagement, absenteeism, workplace safety and performance in a competitive business landscape. But where to begin?

First, the fundamentals

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Acknowledging the key points needed to support a robust employee wellness program is the first step towards success. They include the following:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Social wellbeing
  • Financial wellbeing

Let’s take a closer look at these key wellness components.

Physical health

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. NCD include cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and cause 65% of all deaths in Canada. By encouraging and facilitating physical activity for employees, employers support individual health and wellbeing, a key factor for an organization’s innovation, output and success.

Mental health

Every year, one in five Canadians face a mental health or addiction problem. By the age of 40, 50% of Canadians experience mental illness, and mental health is a significant challenge in the modern workplace. According to the 2017 Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces study, 44% of surveyed Canadian employees reported experiencing a mental health issue.

Financial wellbeing

Being financially savvy isn’t often thought of as a wellness indicator, but it is, and Canadians need to brush up on this. We are overwhelmed by debt and a recent BNN article noted that Canadians don’t even know basic financial terms and definitions. (Take the financial awareness quiz here!) Additionally, a 2017 survey by the Canadian Payroll Association found 47% of employees are living paycheque to paycheque and nearly half (48%) would be short if their pay was delayed by just a week.

Social wellbeing

The need to interact with others is key to the growth and success of individuals and cultures. Unfortunately, with more Canadians living alone than ever before, loneliness is a serious issue—and workplaces are not immune. A 2015 study found employees with low levels of autonomy felt lonely, while half of CEOs feel lonely in their roles. Furthermore, the rise of the gig economy and innovations like telecommuting can reduce personal interaction and increase isolation.

Teams build solutions

All of the above may seem like a collection of daunting statistics and facts. Take heart: people managers have a wealth of resources available to them, and by working together with employees, they can design meaningful health and wellbeing programs without forsaking practicality or the bottom line. By ensuring all facets of employees’ health are considered, companies can reap the productivity and performance rewards of a healthy, engaged workforce.

Does your organization have a health and wellness program? Are you taking a holistic approach to wellness to ensure optimal benefit for both your people and future business growth?

Get more insight into harnessing the power of holistic employee health and wellness programs in the workplace by downloading our ebook, Health & Wellness in the Workplace: Boosting the Bottom Line.

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