While many recent corporate wellness trends focus primarily on promoting physical health and wellness, there are many other dimensions of wellness that should be considered by the employer when contemplating a corporate wellness strategy.
The University of California at Riverside defines seven dimensions of wellness, which they highlight to potential and current employees on their website. These dimensions are defined as follows:
Social Wellness – the ability to relate with those around us, including developing and maintaining positive relationships.
Emotional Wellness -the ability to cope with life’s challenges, acknowledge and share feelings, and understand oneself.
Spiritual Wellness – the ability to live in accordance with one’s values; to enjoy a sense of peace and harmony.
Environmental Wellness – the ability to take responsibility for the quality of the things that surround us; be it air, water, or land.
Occupational Wellness – the ability to find fulfillment in one’s career or job, maintain a balanced life, and have a positive impact on one’s organization and society at large.
Intellectual Wellness – the ability to pursue new ideas and experiences and incorporate learning into our personal and communal decision making, to improve skills and grow through challenges.
Physical Wellness – the ability to maintain a good quality of health and life; to recognize and adopt healthful habits and avoid harmful ones.
These seven dimensions serve to illustrate the complexity and depth of the topic at hand. By taking a holistic approach to corporate wellness and thereby incorporating as many of the above components as possible, organizations will be able to experience the benefits that come with the good practice of taking into account an individual employee’s wellness from multiple perspectives.
By considering all possible factors that contribute to an individual’s motivation and working ability, employers can recognize when a situation or condition is decreasing the overall state of wellness of the worker, and hopefully, intervene or find a solution that can benefit both parties.
Consider an organization whose wellness strategy focuses solely on promoting physical health among employees. This organization may have one employee, who serves as an excellent role model of health and fitness. This person is in excellent physical shape, eats a balanced diet, exercises regularly, and maintains a generally healthy appearance.
However, this employee has an anger management issue that is causing him trouble with his colleagues. Members of his team avoid speaking to him in fear of setting him off on an angry tirade. This causes anxiety in other employees, deteriorates the man’s sense of belonging within his organization and likewise his motivation, and decreases the overall performance within his department.
By failing to consider the other dimensions of a person’s total level of wellness, organizations may fail to recognize when a condition or situation is severely impacting an employee, team, or company as a whole. It is often times in these situations, when problems like this go unaddressed, the culture of the organization suffers and as a result, both the individuals and company involved fail to actualize their full potential.
David Holman’s work on employee wellbeing can provide additional insight as to the interrelated health and wellbeing factors of the organization and employee. He recognized that organizational wellbeing includes factors such as a values-based working and management style, good communication, teamwork and cooperation, clarity of purpose, work-life balance, support, flexibility, fair negotiation for work and pay, and fair compensation; individual wellbeing encompasses factors like a physically healthy body maintained by good diet and exercise, positive attitude, self-confidence, resilience, sense of purpose and meaning, alert and curious mind, and a supportive relationship network.
There are many theories on the nature of wellness and wellbeing, and several researchers have defined the concept in different ways: slicing up the wellness pie in a way that is relevant to their approach. However the multidimensional content of wellness theory remains largely open and therefore, largely unchanged.
Holman, D. (2002), Employee wellbeing in call centres. Human Resource Management Journal, 12: 35–50.
the, Regents of. “Wellness: Seven Dimensions of Wellness.” 2014. Accessed December 8, 2016. https://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html.