Workplace wellness has finally been recognized as the most important factor in determining sustained high performance. Coaching is one of the most powerful tools to create awareness about workplace wellness. It is an essential part of leadership development and coaching leadership styles. Fear, toxicity, and autocracy can produce spikes as steroids do and are as dangerous for long-term wellness.
Let’s look at Workplace Wellness in three categories of
- Physical Wellness
- Emotional wellness
- Systemic Wellness
In many countries today, minimum physical work safety factors take into account ergonomic and disability issues. This is in addition to hours of work and hazardous conditions. In the unorganized sectors in many countries, even these basic requirements are flouted. A far-sighted approach to wellness that should be legislated would need to include the following, in addition to common standards of safety:
- Ergonomic workspace design taking into account the emerging future of mobile and wearable digital devices
- Facilities to exercise the mind and body including guidance by using Yoga, meditation, and such practices to manage stress and anxiety, without the need for machines
- Access to affordable healthy nutrition that is designed to enhance mind-body performance
We see this in practice in companies like Google today. Their experiences in these areas, as they did with Project Oxygen and Aristotle, could go a long way in defining physical workplace wellness standards in the workplace.
Emotional Wellness is, for the most part, within the locus of individual control. However much we may like to pass the blame to others, our mental wellness is within our control. Lack of validation and sensory greed are major factors causing a lack of wellness. Work-life balance has become a favorite whipping post to allocate blame. Let’s look at these emotional wellness factors in greater detail in future posts.
Perhaps I am inventing the word Systemic Wellness, as I rarely see it used in this context. Systemic Wellness is about a positive work climate that individuals, their teams, and the organization create jointly. This would include
- A structure of well-defined values, purpose, work roles, job descriptions, engaged review, developmental feedback, and fair practices in DEI that define the culture of a company. Many companies aspire to this, and some practice it.
- Such a structure leads to collaborative teamwork without silos, and authentic and open communication in a psychologically safe space. This is not utopian. Many companies are working towards this.
- Allow people control in what they do with defined outcomes that are meaningful, impactful, and supported, which inspire them.
- In most cases, happiness and unhappiness, and consequently wellness, depend on the boss and the immediate team. Training all leaders in a coaching mindset of empathy and generative regard is the best way to achieve all these factors of systemic Wellness.
The leadership of an organization needs to include Systemic Wellness as an essential element of their cultural values as they would performance, engagement, and sustainability. Systemic Wellness includes how each member of an organization treats another, thinking, speaking, and acting with respect and empathy, creating a safe and trusted workspace. Once this is in place as a code of conduct, no manuals are needed.
Systemic Wellness is a mindset issue. Emotional Wellness follows. Physical Wellness factors will soon be law in civilized countries. The best way to Systemic Wellness cannot be by law, but through coaching. Our experience with corporate leaders at all levels shows that instilling a coaching mindset of communicating with intentional empathy and respect leads to a safe and trusted workspace, which in turn drives engaged and collaborative high performance.