Leadership: The Wellness Endeavor.

tim-goedhart-334149-unsplashPhoto courtesy of Tim Goedhart on Unsplash.

Care for the whole man (woman) and you will have a healthy and productive organization.

Effective leaders understand that they are no longer simply dealing with a scientific process of managing the worker to improve productivity, reduce inefficiency, and mass produce products as Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford once thought.  Based on time and motion studies, and subsequently high rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, Taylor and Ford  discovered that workers needed more than higher wages and more automated processes in a small defined space in order to remain productive.

So, imagine a room filled with cubicles staffed with software programmers.  For hours they sit immersed in computer code developing industry software, games, and more.  But, there are frequent complaints from supervisors about the sameness of the software, the lack of creativity, and the length of time that it was taking for programmers to produce work.  After consulting with a wellness expert, they decided to introduce mandatory 15 minute breaks every 2 hours for the programmers.  They were encouraged to go to a gaming lounge equipped with pool tables, table tennis boards, and foosball machines.  After just 15 minutes the programmer  is refreshed.  Productivity levels increased in content as well as volume.  Also, absenteeism rates eventually declined.

 Imagine an organization with an increasing number of women becoming mothers.  In time they realized that these new moms were distracted when they returned to work because they could not see their child or breast feed during the day.  So, they set up a newbie facility where new moms could return to work with their babies in a fully staffed nursery on the premises.  Moms could take a break and breast feed their babies in the middle of the day, as well as visit with their older child(ren) in the day care.  Mom would be comfortable and her child(ren) would be happy.  One new mom praised her organization because it helped her to be effective on the job while giving care  to her growing family.

Research shows that leaders who can create a culture that values the whole person generally gets more productive workers.  They are even to make requests of their employees like assuming extra responsibilities and staying late to meet a project deadline and are met with willingness and no need for additional compensation and be rewarded with willing service.  

Consider these statistics on employee wellness programs:

  1. 61% of employees are burned out on the job. (CareerBuilder)
  2. The top five stress symptoms causing missed work days are constant fatigue (29%); sleeplessness (26%); aches and pains (24%); high anxiety (23%) and weight gain (18%). (CareerBuilder)
  3. Stress-related absences cost Canadian employers about $3.5 billion each year. (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services)
  4. Six in ten Canadians believe “their employer has some responsibility in ensuring their good health.” (Buffett National Wellness Survey)
  5. 53% of organizations want to create a culture that promotes health and wellness. Currently, 60% of organizations offer wellness programs. (SHRM)(https://risepeople.com/blog/fascinating-workplace-wellness-statistics/).


Photo courtesy of Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

Globally, as the world of work progresses, one of the signs of a top-notch employer will be a workplace wellness program. Big or small, all businesses can benefit from some sort of wellness program. Here are a few examples that show the range of the wellness endeavors made by good leaders:

(1) On-site fitness centers.  For example, the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and locally, some financial centers and telecommunications companies.  A local spin on this is sports teams which are entered into business house league competitions, like basketball, cricket, tennis, dominoes, table tennis, darts, and much more.  Other organizations do other activities to encourage fitness, for example, I know of a school that invites gym instructors several times a week, and the senior management joins in with the staff for gym classes.  

(2) Transit options.  Reimbursing employees who take public transportation instead of driving to work.  In some environmentally friendly organizations, bike sharing is encouraged, for example, Facebook at it’s Palo Alto facility.  Locally, some organizations provide employee shuttle that will pick up employees in designated spots at a reduced fare or completely subsidized, for example the nurses working in public hospitals, airport staff, university staff, and more.   

(3) Employee assistance programs.  Organizations valuing the whole person recognize that life can be stressful and provide some additional support for employees who need it to get through the hassles, for example, stress, substance abuse, depression, or anxiety.  One of Jamaica’s leading banks has partnered with a local counselling service to provide this service to their staff.  

(4) Naps.  It may sound strange to some, but siestas are common in traditional Latin culture.  So, some western corporations have gotten the hint and now provide special nap rooms for employees who need it after lunch.  Especially with flexible work schedules, naps allow the employee to be refreshed and reinvigorated to return to work.  In Jamaica, there are some professions which dictate that such facilities be made available.  For example, lounges are provided for doctors who are on call so that they can nap during the long nights to be ready for whatever emergencies may arise.

The wellness endeavors are as numerous as there are cultures and organizations.  For more innovative programs visit https://risepeople.com/blog/workplace-wellness-programs/ .  As long as employees have needs, leaders in organizations can make wise decisions about what kind of investments to make in employees wellness.

In Jamaica, the 5K Run/Walk has become synonymous with some organizations who want to identify themselves with a cause, for example breast cancer, children with disabilities, heart health, fathers and so much more.

Incorporating a wellness program into a conscientious organization will ensure that employees feel valued, feel as if they are being heard, and will believe that their organization is truly in a partnership with them and their families.

So, as you lead your team to greatness do not forget the importance of wellness.  You can begin with the teens in your life and review Dear Little Sister and Dear Little Brother at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD and https://youtu.be/zfPWaPCJ0vE .


rawpixel-577480-unsplashPhoto courtesy of rawpixel on Unsplash

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