Wellness at Work


In 1947, the World Health Organization defined the meaning of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

In this context wellness can be defined as:

1.   being free from illness;

2.   having no physiological measures that indicate risk to health, such as high blood pressure;

3.   having a healthy lifestyle that allows one to be active;

4.   being in good spirits with an enthusiasm for life.

In 1993, the United Nations World Labor Report stated that “companies which are likely to be the most successful in the future are those which help employees cope with stress and also carefully re-engineer the workplace to make it better suited to human aptitudes and aspirations.”

Wellness at work is the active art of building resilience to job stress and daily life. It includes the following:

1.   Maximizing flexibility in the organization

2.   Maintaining open lines of communication

3.   Empowering the employee in the decision-making process

4.   Enhancing employee self-esteem and satisfaction

5.   Facilitating good health practices

In the new 21st century corporations, there will be a need for a chief psychological officer that will develop wellness in the company.  (Organizations currently all have a chief financial officer but there is often a lack of a medical/psychological officer or wellness officer that would keep track of the human side of the enterprise).

The two main functions of a wellness officer would include:

1.  Public health activities. Which would include monitoring and producing data on the human side of the corporation. For  example:

  • SURVEILLANCE of various health risk issues related to stress, exercise, nutrition, smoking, alcohol.
  • DETERMINATION of what kinds of treatment interventions are necessary, cost effective and successful in improving health and the quality of life. (Cost/benefit evaluations generally show a greater return on investment in preventing healthy people from slipping into poor health behaviors than trying to make chronically sick people well.)
  • AWARENESS: helping the individual become aware of the need for change or confirming an awareness that already exists.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: individuals are shown how they are responsible for their own health behaviors and not some outside factor.

2.  Coordination and delivery of prevention and treatment services. For example, the development and presentation of the following health promotion programs:

●  Personal Stress Profile                    ●  Personal Fitness

●  Smoking Cessation                          ●  Stress Management Training

●  Weight Control                                    ●  Building Personal Resiliency

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that extensive health promotion programs, or Wellness Programs, can lower healthcare and insurance costs, decrease rates of absenteeism, reduce on-the-job stress, lower employee turnover and improve performance and productivity.

Additionally, employers who sponsor global wellness programs report that their employees generally appreciate these health promotion programs and view them as a benefit of employment that enhances their well-being.