Workplace wellness

What is workplace wellness, and why is it important?

By Miemie van Loggerenberg

Recently, workplace wellness has been a buzzword in the business world. And rightly so. Although awareness already started in the ’50s, the focus was more on safety. After the covid-19 pandemic, the world became hugely aware of mental health. Workplace wellness is essential for your health and productivity. It can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. There are two ways to address the issue.

Firstly, it encompasses efforts made by your employer to promote physical and mental health in the workplace. When companies prioritise employee wellness, they create a positive work environment that fosters productivity, reduces stress, and promotes job satisfaction.

In second place, you are responsible for your mental health at work. And taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial for performing well and leading a fulfilling life. Therefore, when you understand and prioritise workplace well-being, you improve your quality of life.

In this article, I will cover the following:

II. What is workplace wellness?

Let us start with a definition to enable us to understand what it involves. It is also interesting to see how the idea has evolved.


Workplace wellness refers to the efforts made by employers to promote and improve their employees’ physical and mental health at work. It includes a variety of strategies and initiatives that aim to support employees’ overall well-being. These programs often relate to physical health, mental health, and work-life balance. Additional aspects of workplace wellness may include financial education or support for parents or caregivers. The programs aim to promote and support healthy habits at work and in your personal life. An essential aspect of workplace wellness is your willingness to take responsibility for your health.

How workplace wellness has evolved over time

Workplace wellness programs have existed for decades, starting with a focus on physical health and safety in the early 1900s.

Over time, programs expanded to include initiatives such as smoking cessation and weight loss in the 1950s and 60s. Stress management, mental health, and disease prevention became eminent in the 1970s and 80s. By the 1990s and 2000s, many companies offered comprehensive wellness programs that included fitness classes, health screenings, and coaching.

Workplace wellness has become a critical topic recently, and many employers recognize the benefits of supporting employee health and well-being.

workplace wellness,

Companies now offer various wellness initiatives. These include mental health support, work-life balance programs, and resources for managing chronic conditions. With remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have shifted their wellness programs to focus on virtual help and support.

As employee needs continue to evolve, workplace wellness programs will likely adapt and expand to provide comprehensive support for employees’ well-being.

But why is workplace wellness essential for you?

The importance of workplace wellness for personal and professional life

Workplace wellness and programs are vital for several reasons. It is beneficial for workers as well as businesses.

A healthy work environment enhances the general well-being of workers. Wellness programs improve physical and mental health. It allows workers to balance their work and personal responsibilities more effectively. It lessens stress and increases fulfilment in individual lives.

Wellness programs also have a positive impact on businesses. When businesses prioritise health and well-being, they see increased productivity and job satisfaction. Absenteeism and healthcare costs are reduced. Employee retention rates also lessen.

III. The benefits of workplace wellness for employees

Participating in workplace wellness programs can provide you with a variety of benefits. I will now discuss some benefits of participating in workplace wellness programs.

  1. Improved physical health: Wellness programs can help you to adopt healthy habits such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and disease prevention. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Additionally, participating in fitness classes or health screenings helps you to stay accountable and motivated to maintain physical health.
  2. Better mental health: Programs provide resources to manage stress, anxiety, and depression. It will improve your overall quality of life. In turn, you can feel more engaged and productive at work.
  3. Increased job satisfaction: When you feel supported in your well-being, you are more likely to be satisfied with your job. Workplace wellness programs provide a sense of community and support. It leads to greater job satisfaction and a more positive work environment.
  4. Higher productivity: When healthy and engaged, you are more likely to be productive at work. It reduces absenteeism, improves focus and concentration, and enhances daily energy.
  5. Reduced stress and burnout: Workplace wellness programs help you manage and avoid burnout. Resources such as meditation sessions or stress management techniques help you better manage work-related stress. Therefore, you can prevent the adverse effects of burnout, such as fatigue and decreased job satisfaction.

Joining workplace wellness programs can provide many benefits that can improve physical and mental health and reduce stress and burnout.

How workplace wellness initiatives have benefited individual employees

Let us look at a few examples of how wellness initiatives have benefitted individuals.

Improved physical health: Sarah was overweight and had high blood pressure. Her employer implemented a workplace wellness program with nutrition coaching and fitness classes. Sarah participated in the program and lost weight, lowered her blood pressure, and improved her overall health. She reported feeling more energized and confident, and her improved health allowed her to be more productive at work.

Better mental health: John struggled with stress and anxiety due to work-related pressures. When his employer implemented a mindfulness program, John participated in the program. He found that the meditation sessions and stress management techniques helped him manage his stress and anxiety. He reported feeling more relaxed and focused. It allowed him to be more engaged at work.

Increased job satisfaction: Maria participated in a program with team-building activities and flexible work schedules. She was feeling burnt out and dissatisfied with her job. The program helped her feel more connected to her colleagues and more in control of her work. She reported feeling more satisfied with her job and more motivated to perform well.

Higher productivity: Alex struggled to stay focused and productive at work due to poor sleep habits. A workplace wellness program that included resources for improving sleep hygiene helped him get better quality sleep. He felt more alert and focused at work and was more efficient.

These are just a few examples of how workplace wellness initiatives can benefit individual employees in real-life scenarios. Organizations and businesses should prioritise strategies to improve workplace wellness.

IV. Strategies for promoting workplace wellness

There are numerous strategies that employers can use to promote workplace wellness in their organizations. Let us look at a few examples.

Encouraging breaks: Encourage employees to take regular breaks throughout the day to help improve productivity and reduce stress. Provide designated break areas and urge employees to take short walks or stretch breaks throughout the day.

Engaging in physical activity: Physical activity is essential to workplace wellness. Employers can offer fitness classes or provide access to on-site gym facilities. Encourage employees to participate in physical activity outside work by offering fitness incentives or organising group activities like hiking or yoga classes.

Practising stress management techniques: Stress significantly contributes to poor health and decreased productivity. Offer stress management resources such as mindfulness classes, coaching or counselling services. Encourage employees to practice stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation.

Promoting healthy eating: Nutrition is another critical component of workplace wellness. Offer healthy food options in on-site cafes or vending machines. Additionally, provide nutrition counselling or offer healthy cooking classes.

Supporting work-life balance: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for overall well-being. Flexible work schedules or remote work options will help workers. Additionally, employers can provide resources for managing work-related stress, such as time management training or support for caring for dependents.

Encouraging regular check-ups and screenings: Regular health check-ups and screenings can help identify health issues early on. It allows for prompt treatment and improved health outcomes. Offer on-site health screenings or provide incentives for employees to schedule regular check-ups.


One well-known company that prioritises employee wellness is Google. Google’s employee wellness program, known as “gFit,” offers a wide range of resources and initiatives to promote physical and mental health among its employees. This includes on-site fitness centres and classes, healthy food options in the company’s cafeterias, mental health counselling services, and even a nap pod for employees to rest and recharge. Google also encourages employees to take breaks and prioritise work-life balance by offering flexible schedules and paid time off. By prioritising employee wellness, Google aims to create a positive work environment that fosters productivity, creativity, and well-being.

How can you incorporate these strategies into your daily work routine?

Incorporating workplace wellness strategies into daily work routines can be challenging. However, it is essential for improving overall employee health and well-being. The following are tips to accomplish it:

  • Identify specific workplace wellness strategies that are most relevant to your work routine. Create a plan for incorporating them into your daily routine. Set goals and track your progress to ensure that you are making progress towards them.
  • Incorporating wellness strategies into your daily routine can be overwhelming. So start small. For example, take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break or incorporate stretching during the day.
  • Set reminders on your phone to take breaks, engage in physical activity, or practice stress management techniques.
  • Find a colleague to partner with for encouragement to prioritise your health and well-being. Hold each other accountable and provide support and motivation to stay on track.
  • Encourage your employer to promote workplace wellness initiatives and create a workplace culture prioritising employee health and well-being. Participate in workplace wellness programs and inspire your colleagues to do the same.

With some planning and effort, you can prioritise your health in your work environment.

V. Barriers to workplace wellness

While prioritising workplace wellness is essential for overall well-being, you may face several barriers that can make it challenging to incorporate into work routines. Let us look at common obstacles that you may encounter.

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Time constraints: It may be challenging to take breaks, engage in physical activity, or practice stress management techniques due to time constraints. Heavy workloads and tight deadlines can make it challenging to prioritise wellness.

Workplace culture: Workplace culture can also be a barrier to workplace wellness. Workers may be discouraged from incorporating wellness strategies if the organisation does not prioritise employee health and well-being. A culture of long work hours and high productivity expectations can also create a stressful work environment.

Lack of support from management: With permission from management, it is easier to prioritise workplace wellness. Management can support workplace wellness initiatives by providing resources like coaching, counselling services, and a supportive work environment.

Financial constraints: Engaging in physical activity or healthy eating can be expensive. Financial constraints can make it challenging to prioritise wellness.

Lack of knowledge or awareness: Employees may need to be aware of workplace wellness initiatives or realise the importance of prioritising their health and well-being.

Personal barriers: A worker may face additional obstacles to workplace wellness, such as health conditions, disabilities, or caring for dependents.

Both employer and employee share responsibility for wellness at work.

  • Employers can help by providing resources and support for employees.
  • Employees can take small steps to incorporate wellness into their work routines.

With a little effort and support, it is possible to overcome these barriers

Strategies for overcoming these barriers

Fortunately, there are several strategies that you can use to overcome the barriers to your workplace wellness:

  • Manage your time effectively by setting realistic goals, prioritising tasks, and delegating responsibilities. This creates more time for wellness activities.
  • Advocate for workplace wellness by promoting the importance of health to your co-workers and management. It builds a culture that prioritises employee well-being.
  • Attempt to find innovative solutions to overcome financial barriers, such as finding low-cost exercise options or preparing healthy meals at home.

There are additional strategies that employers can use.

  • An employer can provide education and awareness programs to help employees understand the importance of workplace wellness and provide them with the necessary tools and resources.
  • Employers can offer flexibility in work schedules and allow employees to attend wellness programs, take breaks, or engage in physical activity during work hours.
  • Employers can make accommodations for employees with personal challenges. They should provide accessibility options for employees with disabilities or offer flexible work arrangements for employees who are caregivers.

By using these strategies, employers and employees can overcome the barriers and increase health at work.

VI. How employees can promote workplace wellness

It is necessary to highlight the responsibility of workers or employees to take responsibility for their own health.

If your organisation does not prioritise employee health and well-being, advocate for workplace wellness initiatives. Speak with management about the benefits of workplace wellness and the need for resources and support.

Many employers offer workplace wellness resources such as fitness classes, mental health counselling, or health education programs. Taking advantage of these resources will benefit you.

Find ways to incorporate wellness into your work routine. Take breaks to stretch or walk around the office, practice stress management techniques during breaks, or bring healthy snacks to work.

Start small and make incremental changes to your work routine. Use time blocking and try taking a five-minute break after each block to stretch or walk around the office. Blocks of 90 minutes are the most effective.

Setting boundaries can help you prioritise your health and well-being in the workplace. Set limits on working after hours or taking work home with you.

Prioritising self-care outside of work can help you manage stress. Make time for activities you enjoy, such as exercise, spending time with friends and family, or hobbies.

Seek support from colleagues or friends to help you prioritise workplace wellness. Consider forming a wellness group at work to support each other.

Remember that small changes can have a significant impact over time. Prioritising your health and well-being is essential for personal and professional success.

How employees have successfully advocated for workplace wellness in their own workplaces

One example of employees successfully lobbying for wellness is the case of Starbucks baristas in New York City, who pressured the company to provide them with more predictable work schedules and access to healthcare. The baristas formed the group “Starbucks Workers United”. They staged protests, eventually leading to Starbucks implementing a new scheduling system that gave workers more control over their schedules and better access to healthcare. This case demonstrates the power of collective action and advocacy in promoting workplace wellness.

But there are numerous ways to lobby for a healthy work environment.

Start a wellness committee: Employees at one company formed a wellness committee to promote healthy habits in the workplace. The committee organised events such as nutritional eating challenges, yoga classes, and mental health workshops.

Lobby for gym equipment: A group of employees at a manufacturing plant lobbied management to install gym equipment on-site. The employees argued that access to exercise equipment would improve employee health and increase productivity. The administration agreed and installed the gym equipment.

Implement flexible work arrangements: One employee advocated for flexible work arrangements, such as the ability to work from home or adjust work hours. After presenting a compelling case to management, the company implemented flexible work arrangements for all employees.

Encourage healthy eating: An employee at a large corporation started a healthy eating initiative by providing healthy food options in the company cafeteria.

Support mental health initiatives: Employees at one company successfully advocated for implementing mental health initiatives such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and mindfulness workshops. These initiatives helped reduce stress

Employees can create positive change in their organisations and promote a healthy culture. And even small actions can have a significant impact.

VII. Conclusion

Taking care of your health and well-being is essential for success inside and outside work. This post has provided valuable insights and practical strategies to prioritize your wellness in the workplace and advocate for positive change within your organization.

If you found this content valuable, please share it with your colleagues and friends who may benefit from these insights and strategies.

Additionally, I invite you to subscribe to Klaen magazine, where you can find more articles and resources on health, wellness, and personal development topics.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your continued engagement with Klaen magazine!


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