Wednesday, 16 October 2019

What's Happening in the World of Wellbeing

This week, I had the opportunity to connect and grow at a wellness conference. The focus was ‘wellness at work’ and featured a plethora of presenters sharing their wellness journeys and tips. It was inspiring to hear of all that’s occurring around New Zealand workplaces and the implications this has for our future. It is also heartening to see a nation with strong desires to see it’s people be well. Here is a summary of ideas that appeared time and again across the different presentations:

Remove barriers so that we can talk about our wellbeing
This idea, focused primarily on our mental health. In essence, employers are aware that an individual needs to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work. This includes potential facets that people fear will deter their progression or highlight them in a negative way. Ensuring that people can talk freely and truly bring all of who they are will go a long way to improving our wellbeing.

The use of technology in supporting people to engage with wellbeing practices
There were several cases of organisations who have begun tapping into their technological resources in order to distribute (knowledge), track and improve wellbeing. There were some innovative ideas of how the masses can be reached and educated, as well as incentivised. If you’re looking for a small step: podcasts and webinars are great tools to share ideas that need to be widespread.
Having wellness first aiders, people who have skills and tools to address different facets of wellbeing 
This idea centred around equipping those in the workplace to support one another. A first aider volunteered for this role and was upskilled with the tools and knowledge needed to help those they work with. This took shape in different ways, such as a wellness window, a wellness first aid kit and a centralised place to share information about practices and events. Essentially, it is the next step after forming a wellness committee.

Ikigai: supporting people to find meaning and purpose in their work
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that looks at aligning the challenges and needs of the world, with passion, values, skillsets with remuneration. A quick google image search will display an organiser that shows the relationship between four aspects. If all of these aspects can be met, then purpose and meaning can be achieved, impacting positively on the wellbeing of an individual.

The tension of wellness being a tick box/another thing to do vs. being authentic
With wellbeing making a mainstream appearance, it can be difficult to purposefully and sincerely introduce practices and incentives in the workplace. It can quickly become another thing we need to do or appear as though boxes are trying to be ticked. A word to the wise suggested that weaving initiatives and ideas into the existing fabric and organisation of a company is the best way to ensure that practices are authentic.

Te Whare Tapa Wha: a model of holistic wellness
This model was mentioned several times and for good reason. The focus on ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ within workplaces has evolved throughout the past three decades, eventually settling on a holistic approach. This model captures the essence of holistic wellbeing, using the model of a whare (house) to describe how the different aspects of an individual relate to one another.

People drive, leadership supported
Like a double-edged sword, if wellbeing is to be achieved, there needs to be an alignment between leadership and its people. Effectively, ideas need to arise from within an organisation, validating the voices of those whose wellbeing we’re trying to improve. If leadership are able to support ideas that resonate with our schools, then we have a higher chance of success. 

Understanding the language people use to describe their challenges/pressures and responding appropriatelyThis one also focused primarily on mental health and suggested that the way in which we discuss this aspect of our lives doesn’t use words you may expect, given the connotations attached to them. To use the term ‘anxiety’ to describe your feelings towards elements of your job may not come naturally, but people will attempt to capture this idea using more work-friendly terms. Understanding what these phrases are and responding with care, concern and grace is essential.
Reframing stress and pressure in the workplace through language to improve the culture
The excellent presentation discussed the nuances between conscious and subconscious brains. He discussed how stress arises and how your body and mind respond to certain cues, as well as ways to reframe this. A memorable example suggested substituting the word frustrating for fascinating can do wonders for dealing with more challenging situations and people.

Data-driven and evidence based
This may seem rather obvious but centred primarily around the idea that it’s difficult to quantify something as complex as wellbeing. While no answers were reached, this is an excellent question to consider when trying to improve the wellness of your colleagues: how can we continue to measure success and know we’re doing better than previous years?

Don’t reinvent the wheel
There are a myriad of organisations, toolkits, ideas, initiatives, practices and resources available to us. It is easy to try and recreate the aforementioned, but where you can, use what’s already available.

Centralise our documentation and policies to ensure that wellness know-how is readily accessible and available
While this idea applied more so for larger organisations and corporations, it is still essential. The reality is, this is a call to the ministry of education to provide every school in our nation with what they need to improve the wellness of every person who serves our young people.

As you can see, we are well on our way to ensuring our lives have more purpose, more joy and more health. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Nice summary Andy. I especially like the Te Whare Tapa Wha reminder and thoughts on how to remove barriers.