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It’s no secret that the workplace has a huge impact on the physical, mental, economic and social wellbeing of employees. With the average full-time worker spending around 40 hours a week at work, it can be easy to see how the hours spent working can play a vital role in shaping a person’s overall wellness experience. Combine this with a global pandemic and the topic of ‘employee wellness’ becomes ever so crucial.

COVID-19’s impact

With COVID-19 signalling a huge shift towards remote working, many employees found themselves juggling work, home schooling and house duties. The pandemic has led to less separation between professional and personal activities, increasing the risk of exhaustion and burnout and simultaneously exposing the stress that many employees face in balancing demands. With one in three employees in each Australian workplace currently experiencing some kind of mental health challenge, mental illness is the leading cause of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity in Australia.

Wellness beyond the physical

Employee wellness is no longer a fancy perk packaged neatly into a lunchtime yoga session or subsidised gym membership – it’s an all-encompassing concept that can create real positive impact in employee’s lives. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that organisations – both private and public – need to prioritise and support employee wellness, both during and outside work hours.

It’s one thing to recognise that employee and workplace wellbeing are important – taking strategic action is another matter, and we know this isn’t easy. Globally, 80% of public organisations believe that wellbeing is important, yet only 38% feel ready to address employee wellness. Not only can a robust wellness strategy create happier and healthier workers, but it can also drive productivity and overall efficiency in an organisation.

Wellness equals success

Senior lecturer and researcher Dr Amanda Allisey at Deakin University has been studying mental health and wellbeing in the workplace for some time now. The results are clear – happy and well-balanced employees are more productive and agile, so it’s in an organisation’s best interest to facilitate an environment that supports wellbeing.

‘When employees enjoy a happy, healthy work environment, you start seeing exciting innovations in business. It’s the difference between an organisation that’s simply functioning and an organisation that’s capable of making huge leaps. It really comes down to the people who are working within it,’ Dr Allisey says.

With innovation and productivity relying so heavily on employee wellbeing, implementing a holistic wellness strategy is the key step to ensuring organisational success.