LIFE

Why Wellness At Work Is Not Great For Every Office

A meditation room might be a hit in some places but not others.

17/12/2016 4:03 PM AEDT | Updated 18/12/2016 6:14 PM AEDT
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Yoga at work might be great for some people but others might not appreciate it being a 'work thing.'

Wellness in the workplace is pretty trendy right now, with many Australian organisations indulging in standing desks, fruit baskets, quiet rooms and weekly massages.

But there's a big question mark over whether wellness at work is the right fit for every company. Just because it works well for the offices in the fashion industry doesn't mean it will work at an accountancy firm.

Entrepreneur and co-founder of Basic Bananas, Franziska Iseli, told The Huffington Post Australia while all these practices are great, if they don't fit authentically into a business they won't be effective.

"It shouldn't be an over the top effort by companies to create cultures that are not only inauthentic, but difficult to manage, expensive to run, and unsupported by the wider staff," Iseli said.

"The culture of a company should come first to business owners, and a culture cannot be created simply by investing in wellness programs. It's through the culture of a company, that a culture of health, and wellness is created, and not the other way around."

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Many offices provide staff with weekly fruit bowls as part of a 'wellness at work' initiative.

Iseli believes, in many situations, wellness at work can be a waste of time. She said the wellness programmes are almost always a 'top down exercise'.

"That's why they so often seem to fail because the health and wellbeing of a company needs to be established from the ground up," Iseli said.

"That way team members can get behind the initiative, feel a level of authenticity and are responsible for its success and impactful change. After all, it's your staff who impact your culture."

Executive coach Muffy Churches told HuffPost Australia meditation rooms, weekly massages and fruit deliveries are a good way to let staff know they are valued, but each employee will perceive the message differently.

"Some people will be very grateful and enjoy it. Others will be cynical and think they're just being treated well so that they work longer hours," Churches said.

"I think in order to have a sense of wellbeing, we need to have a sense of personal control, a high level of confidence and level of comfort at work but that's got to start in our heads."

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It's not unusual for offices to provide work spaces where people can use a standing desk.

Iseli said she's been able to create a culture of happy staff without wasting money on expensive wellness programs the team might not care about:

"We shift the focus of the managers onto other team members. This ensures the responsibility of our employees' happiness falls onto one another, this in turn avoids the 'us and them' mentality faced by so many business owners, and we can all collaborate and unite as a team."

"For example, every week we have a Friday lunch team meeting, and we take the time to celebrate small wins for each of our staff. This allows everyone within the business to feel valued, rather than waiting until yearly reviews to acknowledge a job well done."

One way an office can practice wellness in a simple way is to change the work environment every now and then. Iseli said if you take your staff out of the work 'zone' it can really empower them and inspire bigger ideas.

"We like to host 'board' meetings literally, on surf boards in the ocean, so we're away from technology and can truly connect with one another, with nature and with our ideas," Iseli said.

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