First published as a LinkedIn article during Mental Health Awareness Week: 27 September – 3 October, 2021.

This Mental Health Awareness Week we sat down with our founder, Jaime Gallocher, to get her two cents on wellbeing in the workplace and how to foster it.

Jaime recommends businesses focus on the Five Ways to Wellbeing as a framework to genuinely look after people, which in turn drives employee engagement, retention and a sense of community.

We hear some businesses talk about wellbeing like it’s a concept that you can tick off with yoga, meditation and eating bowls of free bliss balls!

But wellbeing is so much more than working yourself into the ground and then just taking the edge off with yoga. It’s about long-term sustainable change, creating positive habits, maintaining perspective, and leading by example.

Thankfully, we’ve seen a real shift in the last 18 months to understanding and valuing true wellbeing.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based mental health messages that can be applied to improving the wellbeing of everyone. Here are some practical ways to introduce Giving, Activities, Learning, Connection and Taking Notice into your business.

Five Ways to Wellbeing framework: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Give

Purpose feeds into wellbeing. We know that people need to feel they’re working for more than just a salary in order to feel satisfied, and this is especially true for our younger folk. Organise days out of the office where you volunteer together as an organisation. You could clean up a beach through Sustainable Coastlines, or cook a meal for families at Ronald McDonald House. Another way to approach this kaupapa is to encourage your people to work with a cause that resonates with them and provide time off when it suits.

Be active

Prioritise the health and wellness of your people, but steer clear from ableist messaging such as: “Sit less, move more”. Opt for more inclusive messages like “Be active your way” and “Unplug and play”.

We’ve all had the benefits of routines hammered into us, but just like rules, routines are made to to be broken. Give your people a surprise afternoon off, or even better, do it every week all summer 🌞

Keep learning

As humans we’re hard-wired to get satisfaction from taking on challenges and becoming masterful in a new area. Without challenge and learning woven into the fabric of our lives we run the risk of languishing and getting stuck in a rut. Give your people opportunities to grow and develop: you could offer te reo Māori lessons or start a library of business/self-development books where the titles are requested by employees and then purchased. Go out and ask your people what they want to learn and let that guide what you offer, within the constraints of your budget.

Another way to foster learning is to cultivate space for dreaming and passion projects. Allow your people the time and space to be creative, dream or work on something that sits outside of their day-to-day tasks and KPIs.

Connect

Communicate regularly and authentically with your organisation. Choose a method of communication that feels right for you and keep up the cadence. Get input from your communications team but let it be your true voice that people can hear. The thing to remember here is that real is better than perfect.

Listen to your people and be curious. Run an employee satisfaction survey and make impactful change with the results. Ask for feedback about your organisation’s culture so it’s constantly evolving 🌈

Take notice

Reward success and celebrate milestones. If someone has a win, take the time to congratulate and thank them in person. These aren’t groundbreaking initiatives, but in our ‘culture of busy’ they can be overlooked to the detriment of employee satisfaction.

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