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The Link Between Workplace Wellness and Workplace Culture


I have been asked a few times lately about how Wellness in the workplace is related to the Culture within a workplace.  That is a good question.  So good that I thought I would chat about it today.


Both positive culture and wellness levels are sought after in today’s workplaces.  It is hard to attract, keep and motivate good employees in our current market. Thus, adding value for employees within an organization is vital to thrive.


But …… what is the difference between culture and wellness in the workplace?


Workplace wellness is actually an element of the culture in a workplace.  Wellness, of course, speaks to any component of employee wellbeing and health.  Some elements include employee stress, mental health, physical fitness, nutrition, general health, work/life balance, fatigue (also a safety issue), health in regards to sitting / standing / computer use, shift work health and wellbeing as well as positivity in the workplace etc.  Wellness in the workplace can be addressed in many ways.  Some examples being events, dissemination of information, workshops, corporate challenges and other initiatives.

Culture encompasses the wellness of employees as well as a plethora of other things.  Workplace culture is the work environment in an organization.  The ‘feel’ of working there, how people communicate with each other, how leadership operates, how positive it is to work there, how much/how hard people work and what the unwritten rules are about working there etc.  Culture in a workplace cannot be implemented like an initiative can.  It just is.  It is determined by those that work there.  Many strategies can be used to help create a positive workplace culture, including wellness initiatives, but the employees must have full buy-in and put new beliefs to use in order for the culture to shift.


An example of how corporate wellness and culture intertwine:


I worked with an organization about a year ago that wanted to improve their corporate culture.  I was helping them implement some wellness initiatives as part of their bigger goal to improve their culture, and to try to prevent people from leaving.


We started out by assessing the employees to see what types of challenges they were having, what was currently working and what they would be interested in participating in.  The areas of challenge that emerged were stress, lack of balance, conflict and a rift between upper management and front line employees.  People indicated interest in corporate challenges, events, workshops on certain topics, wellness newsletters or wellness boards and wellness days.


After we had these answers, as well as more information, we made a plan and did a roll-out of a Workplace Wellness Initiative for all of their locations.  One of the most important elements linked to the success of this initiative was avoiding trying to ‘jam’ wellness down everyone’s throats.  It was essential to position it like a positive and ongoing initiative intended to address what people had asked for during the assessment.  This made people feel like they had been listened to and that they had a say in what happened in their workplace.  If employees had felt like this was a ploy by upper management to make them healthier so that they would work harder, and be more productive, the initiative would have fallen flat and caused more harm than good.  That would have had a negative effect on the culture of the workplace.  As it turned out employees felt appreciated.


After a year of this wellness initiative running it has been identified that there has been a boost in positivity and generally more work satisfaction among everyone. People have also indicated that they are experiencing an increase in positivity in regards to their view of management.  Generally employees say they feel like they are part of a team, instead of minions working for an evil corporation.  With all the events, challenges and workshops people in different departments have regularly been involved with each other in positive and fun situations.  This seems to have broken down barriers between departments and started to make employees feel more connected.  A huge ripple effect has occurred from this change.  Work has become more streamlined in many cases and there is a better vibe between people.  Many members of the organization previously viewed individuals in different departments as invisible people sitting in separate worlds within the company.  This initiative has helped to humanize the environment and build a stronger feeling of community.


As you can see corporate wellness initiatives can be a vital part of a larger initiative to improve the culture within an organization.  There is more to it than that though.  Corporate culture can be affected by any aspect of how an organization is run and the people involved. The culture of this particular company also needed some work in other areas.  A few things that they have been working on include communication systems between departments, leadership training for those people that are promoted into leadership positions and also processes that can be used to increase customer satisfaction.  Increasing customer satisfaction has helped cut down on the negative comments that had often been received by employees.  This in turn has decreased the stress levels of a significant number of people company wide.  Every organization is different, but I think this is a fantastic example of how workplace wellness and culture relate to each other and how wellness is a very key element of corporate culture.


How is your organization doing?



Over and Out

April Smith- Owner of Vitalize Initiatives Inc.

April Smith


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