Corporate wellness programs typically bring to mind images of treadmills and salads. However, physical health is just one dimension of overall wellness. What about other dimensions of wellness, like emotional health? For instance, are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or disconnected on a regular basis? If you are, you’re not alone. Many people exist in a constant state of stress and anxiety, just trying to make it through the day. That’s why many forward-thinking wellness programs are shifting to a much more holistic approach that includes emotional, occupational, social, intellectual, spiritual, and financial dimensions in addition to the traditional physical wellness people normally associate with good health. If we are to successfully serve and help the employees working within our organizations, the future of corporate wellness will need to move beyond the physical to focus on the integration of all of these dimensions.
As a leader in the construction industry, Miron Construction utilizes green building standards such as WELL and LEED to create sustainable built environments that bring company cultures to life and encourage positive, healthy behaviors of occupants. One of the three pillars of sustainability—people—focuses on enhancing human health and wellbeing. We believe the future of corporate wellness, and the facilities that these programs take place in, will be multidimensional and holistic. These programs and spaces will need to encourage a conscious lifestyle approach to enhancing personal health and wellness. According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is defined as, “An active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” Similar to Miron’s philosophy that sustainability is not only about reducing energy use, wellness is not just about physical health. Holistic wellness is a lifestyle, a culture; it encompasses the seven dimensions of occupational, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, and physical health. These dimensions are explained below in context to wellness in the workplace.
- OCCUPATIONAL wellness focuses on creating a healthy work environment that minimizes stress, increases comfort, and encourages healthy behaviors such as proper nutrition and exercise/movement. From an emotional viewpoint, this also means leadership takes action to enable employees to recognize the value and importance of the work they do and support investment in career development.
- INTELLECTUAL wellness focuses on education and promotes skill development in areas that include critical career skills, personal skills, and lifestyle skills. Setting aside time for continual education and growth creates positive lifelong learning habits.
- EMOTIONAL wellness focuses on emotional intelligence and feeling good about one’s priorities. The organizational culture, supported by corporate policy, needs to promote work-life balance, ensuring employees properly manage time for work, family, personal, and volunteer activities.
- SPIRITUAL wellness goes hand-in-hand with emotional wellness, focusing on the importance of human life, the community, and the environment/planet. It focuses on what is truly important to oneself, whether that’s placing an emphasis on personal values and faith, being a humble, kind, caring, empathetic and giving person, or feeling fulfilled with one’s life and experiencing life to the fullest.
- SOCIAL wellness focuses on creating and maintaining strong, healthy relationships with the people one interacts with both personally and professionally. Social health is also inclusive of diversity, requiring employees to acknowledge and respect the different cultures and backgrounds of others.
- PHYSICAL wellness or “health” focuses on a person’s physical body, where “health” is determined by physical fitness/activity, sleep quality, nourishment, hydration, genetics, disabilities, and illness. The classic corporate approach to measuring employee health includes Health Risk Assessments and age-appropriate (preventive) check-ups and health screenings. While there is debate regarding the accuracy of the metrics, the biometric health scores are intended to provide people with a snapshot of their health, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors/actions, or to seek medical help to avoid future negative health-related consequences. Today, sitting is the new smoking. Low physical activity and lack of movement on and off the job have deadly consequences. Corporate wellness programs strive to educate employees on the importance of movement and physical activity. The environment needs to be properly designed and built to encourage regular physical movement and avoid occupational disease.
- FINANCIAL wellness focuses on financial security. It involves educating people on how to be fiscally responsible and properly manage their money, both in the short- and long-term. From the workplace perspective, this means providing financial programs, resources, and tools to enable employees to make sound, secure, financial decisions today and in the future.
For a building to be truly sustainable, its systems must be interdependent, meaning one feature or system cannot simply be removed without having an impact on the building as a whole. The same holds true for wellness programs. When a person applies the seven dimensions of wellness to their life, they become aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension, experiencing a “total” optimal healthy lifestyle.
Personal Wellness Assessment
Take a moment to assess your own health and wellbeing based on four of the dimensions (emotional, spiritual, social, and physical) of wellness. What do you need to work on to create a holistic, healthy, and balanced lifestyle?