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Wellness in the Workplace: What is it and How Can it Be Achieved?

Health and Wellbeing at Work Comes From Having an Ethical Culture

As mental health and wellbeing decline during these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to strive for human flourishing (i.e., happiness) and meaning (i.e., self-actualization) in the workplace through moral excellence. This is the key to achieving wellbeing in the workplace.

When employee wellbeing suffers, so does the organization’s bottom line. Employees must feel valued by their superiors, treated fairly in the performance evaluation system, but most of all they need to feel that the workplace provides the basic ingredients to build self-esteem. Employees need to feel their efforts make a positive difference in contributing to an ethical culture within the organization.

It has been pointed out that when leaders fulfill the four needs of followers—a sense of trust, compassion, stability and hope—they are more likely to induce resilience and performance. This makes sense because employees’ wellbeing is linked to how they are treated by leaders.

A Gallup poll indicates that 59 percent of employees who strongly agree that their organization cares about their overall wellbeing believe they can always bounce back after hardship. But only one in four employees strongly agree that their organization cares.

Jim Clifton and Jim Harter point out that, “employees who say their organization cares about their wellbeing are five times more likely to also strongly agree that when something goes wrong, their team looks for solutions rather than blaming each other. Leaders should build resilience into the culture and proactively tighten their team’s connections by asking the following:

  • What do team members say have changed for them, and what hasn’t?
  • When has the team been at its best during the last week?
  • How has the team used and recognized their collective strengths?
  • Who can I best partner with to create a positive change and move others toward action?

So why is it important to offer employee well-being at work? The online organization, WellSteps, offers seven reasons as follows.

  1. Well-being Programs improve employee health behaviors.
  2. Well-being Programs reduce elevated health risks.
  3. Well-being Programs reduce health care costs.
  4. Well-being Programs improve productivity.
  5. Well-being Programs can reduce absenteeism.
  6. Well-being Programs can help improve employee recruitment and retention.
  7. Well-being Programs build and help sustain high employee morale.

The graphic below shows the interaction of these elements. Wellness-works-here

I agree with everything the experts say about wellness in the workplace, some of which is discussed in this blog. I would like to address the ethical issues as well to round out the picture.

Wellness coincides with being an ethical person because it implies you are truthful, empathetic towards others, and responsible in doing your job. It really doesn’t matter if the seven reasons exist if employees find themselves in an organization that does not strive to do the right thing. They may feel the need to go along with wrongdoing to keep their job or advance in the organization. They may compromise their values to comply with what the organization expects, and they can lead to unhappiness and wellness issues. This brings on organizational dissidence where what an employee feels is the right thing to do is not what they actually do because of pressure to compromise their values.

We need to start recognizing the interplay between ethics and wellness. They go hand in hand. Employees that I have spoken to say that when they feel their opinions are ignored or the company itself does not play by its own rules, a sense of dread comes over them that is exacerbated by having a “kill the messenger” syndrome. An employee may want to step forward and report wrongdoing in the workplace (internal whistleblowing) but probably won’t if they feel their statements will be ignored or they might be retaliated against.

Here is something to remember: Wellness = happiness and meaning. An ethical organization=Wellness. An ethical organization = happiness and meaning, which leads to self-fulfillment.

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on September 29, 2021. Steve is the author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.

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