Wellness In The Workplace: Wellness Matters Event – April 22nd 2021  Find out more

Wellness In The Workplace: Event Summary

7th May 2021

Thank you to all our speakers, panelists, sponsors and attendees.  I hadn’t planned on an online event when we first decided to do another Wellness in The Workplace event.

Despite a few technical challenges, the feedback from the day was positive, and reiterated this years theme….wellness matters!  We looked at some more tangible safety related topics:

  • Psychological health and safety in the workplace
  • Fatigue and it’s impact on our bodies and the workplace
  • Entrepreneur burnout
  • Bullying and harassment

Many of our blogposts have touched on mental health concerns, and solutions.  Our speakers made it clear that mental health continues to be a leading concern in the workplace for a number of reasons.

One of which is the sheer numbers.  1 in 2 Canadians will be affected by mental health concerns to varying degrees, and there is real risk that workplaces can add to the mental strain of some of our staff.


A Little Less Ordinary

Some themes that came up between speakers, in the audience comments, and throughout the day were less obviously safety related. I believe these themes have a role to play in workplace health, safety, and wellness.  Below are some of the less conventional themes that came out of the day:

Community 

Particularly as workplaces grapple with the influence of COVID-19, we have heard and seen examples of how a strong sense of community can make a difference. We discussed community during the event and touched on:

  • Needing to connect the concept of community to culture as well
  • Having a strong safety culture that is focused on worker health, safety and wellbeing can help foster a strong sense of community, togetherness
  • That sense of community can also help manage wellness when facing adversity
  • Having an engaged and diverse workforce can strengthen the sense of community.

Don Parman at Actsafe identified that during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic the film and live events industry benefited a strong sense of community.

The industry benefited from coming together, sharing, and leaning on each others diverse experiences and skill sets to help provide solutions, and resilience in the face of adversity.

Resilience

Most of us have days that are just tougher, or even more challenging than days, are weeks, or months of adversity.

The idea of resilience from a wellness perspective, is finding ways to reduce the impact that these tough moments have on our wellbeing.

Dan VanderSluis identified that resilience is our ability to bounce back from a difficult situation.  How well we manage adversity and resiliency can be influenced by our health in the following areas:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Nutritional
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Psychological

When employers can predict there will be adversity coming up (think accountants at tax time!) considering how to support employee resilience is an important part of creating a sense of wellness at work.

Jason Ng identified that entrepreneurs need to consider their own limits, and needs when working through adversity.  Being aware of our limits is part of the resiliency equation, as is asking for help when needed.

Respect

Taking time to understand different perspectives, skills, and ideas in the workplace can also foster a sense of respect.

Respectful workplaces were identified throughout the day as being key to developing an inclusive, and engaging workplace, and the concept of equity, diversity, and inclusion as part of a respectful workplace generated a lot of discussion during, as well as after the event.

The panel discussion touched on the importance of challenging leadership (respectfully) to encourage diversity, inclusion, and equity, which are all clearly connected to understanding and respect.

Creating respectful workplaces requires change management, will take time, and needs strong leadership, however it can create an environment of trust, commitment, and loyalty.  It’s also the right thing to do.

Understanding

Another key theme that came up was the simple idea of understanding, and empathy.

Recognizing what others do,  and being aware of challenges and successes that our employees, colleagues, and teams face can build a better understanding of their role in the workplace.

Being open to listening to colleagues, and  taking the time to understand different perspectives within our workforce builds appreciation, understanding, and relationships.

Understanding and empathy can also make workers feel safer in their work environment if they feel understood and supported.

Understanding aspects of our employees and colleagues day to day work life can enhance feelings of value and provide insights into how to best support wellness in our workplaces, particularly when it comes to discussing and listening to safety concerns.

Gratitude

The topic that surprised me the most, was gratitude.  It was mentioned by three speakers, and also by attendees, and was a thread that ran throughout the day.

Just appreciating what people have done, or are doing within your workplace can go a long way towards supporting wellness. Some thoughts:

  • Showing that you are thankful for the work done, the effort made, or the value that employees or colleagues have can be powerful
  • A.J. Jacobs Ted Talk on his gratitude chain is an interesting 15 minute listen
  • He touches on how being thankful can really make a difference in how workers feel
  • There are various arguments that gratitude can have positive physical impacts on our wellness
  • Even if you don’t necessarily feel the thanks as genuinely as you’d like, A.J. Jacobs says fake it till you make, and it will come

So the next time you recognize something you’re thankful for, don’t just think gratitude, show gratitude.  Say thank you.  It could be a significant difference in someone’s day


In Short

I was pleased to see how many underlying aspects of wellness were raised by our speakers, and that connected various aspects of safety and wellbeing.

There’s a simple concept that I think sometimes gets overlooked when we discuss safety.  Be kind and respectful in the workplace, and you might just find a host of benefits that add value to your workplace, and enhance the health, safety, and wellness of your work teams.

Consider the simple fact that if we’re feeling good about ourselves, and are in a positive, rested, and energetic state of mind, we’re already taking care of our health and wellness, surely that goes a long way to helping with our safety as well?

In closing, here’s an 8 year old article that seems to believe safety and wellness are intrinsically connected.

I think wellness is much more than what was touched on in our event, and is touched on in this article, and I also think that workplaces need to keep exploring the connection between wellness and workplace health and safety.

Check in over the next few weeks as we update our website with resources and videos from the wellness event to help navigate and continue the discussion within your workplace.

Resources

Don Parman

EDI Panel

Clinton Marquardt

  • Presentation Video – coming soon

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