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STRONGER TOGETHER: Inclusive Wellbeing - Shifting from Self-Help to Community Empowerment in the Workplace

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Last updated: 01/07/2024

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of shifting the focus from individual to community and workplace responsibility in promoting inclusive wellbeing, advocating for environments that support healthy choices and a holistic approach that values every individual’s contribution to collective health and success.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

In the contemporary workplace, there has been a significant shift towards prioritising wellbeing, making it a central focus. I genuinely love the concept and practices associated with maintaining my health and wellbeing, however fear that it is being overly commercialised to create self-help empires that do not always put the needs of individuals at the core. Piggybacking on a multimillion-dollar diet, supplement and fitness industry, achieving wellbeing is presented as complex, complicated and unachievable for most of us – unless you have the money to invest in it.

Wellbeing is sometimes even sold as a ‘one-off treat that you deserve’ – imagine upgraded hotels that offer wellbeing spa packages or wellbeing retreats in remote locations throughout the world. The reality is that wellbeing is neither a modern concept nor a new practice. Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have sought out ways to understand and improve themselves, to find happiness, to do straightforward things like don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, eat a variety of food including fruits and vegetables, connect with friends and family and move your body.  If you followed in the footsteps of generations of yogis, they would tell you that wellbeing is cultivated with compassion as part of a non-obsessive daily practice. A little breathing, a little gentle movement. A short sit. They would pitch these simple strategies as the fundamentals of life, that sit at the core of a person’s wellbeing.  

The reality is that modern incarnations of wellbeing devolve responsibility for wellbeing on to individuals via a commercial market – influencers, celebrities, social media, spaces that create a wellbeing experience.

What if the environments that people lived in, worked in, played in, were better designed to support those straightforward decisions that reduced the friction when it comes to making positive choices that maximise our wellbeing? Turning our understanding of wellbeing away from individuals and instead focusing on the communities within which they live and the businesses within which they work.

What if we expanded this concept of wellbeing to be inclusive of all – what would that look like in practice?

When it comes to the workplace, inclusive wellbeing involves creating an environment where every individual, irrespective of their background, identity, or circumstances, feels genuinely valued, respected, and supported. It recognises the interconnectedness of physical, mental, emotional, social and financial aspects of wellbeing and seeks to ensure equitable access to opportunities and resources, while nurturing a culture where everyone can participate fully and authentically. Offering flexible work arrangements, time to manage childcare or attend specialist appointments, in addition to ergonomic workstations, automatic doors, height-adjustable desks, and wide hallways are fundamental to this holistic approach.

Supporting mental health is also pivotal. Providing access to counselling, mental health days, and stress management programs, along with training managers to recognise signs of burnout and mental health challenges, ensures timely support for employees. Promoting movement by hosting stand up or walk and talk meetings sets the tone that staff are encouraged to move throughout the day.

Social wellbeing is equally significant. Fostering community through team-building activities and open forums cultivates a workplace where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Financial wellbeing completes the picture. Offering financial education programs, fair compensation, and pathways for career growth ensures employees are not only healthy and happy but also financially secure.

Individuals are accountable for their own wellbeing. Don’t misunderstand me – I am100% in agreement with this. BUT communities also have a part to play in improving the wellbeing of the people. At IMPACT Community Services, we invest in creating inclusive wellbeing, believing that a diverse workforce brings rich diversity in perspectives and ideas, which drive innovation and competitive advantage. By cultivating an environment where all employees feel valued and supported, organisations unleash their full potential, leading to enhanced innovation, productivity, and overall success. And best of all, their people understand how all of this contributes to their own wellbeing.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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