People & Human Resources

Workplace wellness is critical but should it all fall on the employers’ shoulders?

Sue-Ellen Watts /

Wellness in the workplace has again hit the ‘Workplace trends’ lists for 2017 as companies use wellness programs to reduce absenteeism and attract talent.

It’s not a surprise, as employees continue to become more health conscious and employers recognise workplace stress as the biggest health issue that employees face.

But how do SMEs create a healthier workplace that doesn’t break the bank? Not only are gym membership perks expensive, they also have minimal impact on an employees health.

My personal view is that an individuals’ health is their responsibility. As employers we are not our employees’ parents. It is not up to us to make sure they eat well, get enough rest and stay fit. Surely as adults we can make the right choices without relying on our employer to look after our health?

However, employers can certainly promote a wellbeing-focused workplace and encourage healthy living without it being an extra expense to a SMEs already stretched budget.

At wattsnext I am very committed to endorsing and leading a company that promotes a healthy approach to living in all aspects. I do this with very minimal expense and responsibility.  It all started with a challenge that we called #projectfit. We made a small investment in providing each employee with a mid-range Fitbit, implemented a 10,000 steps per day challenge, and set up a slack channel called “Wellness”. Let the competition and the banter begin!

On this slack channel we share updates on who is the ‘weekly step winner’, photos of post-workout red faces, sulk about our injuries and generally share the ups and downs of keeping healthy.

I have loved watching my team focus on their overall wellness. We don’t just do thousands of steps each week, we also have team members playing team sport, doing hot yoga together, surfing, meditating, and sharing healthy recipes.

But my most favourite post was from one of the team members just last week who shared that her boyfriend and his sister (who weren’t overly active) are now partaking in their own step challenge and loving their new exercise routine. Our internal team self-driven health challenge is having a ripple affect into our community — now that’s a win!

So before you leave ‘wellness programs’ to the big corporates, SMEs should also consider the importance of this to attract and retain quality talent and increase productivity.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you just need to be creative and let the team lead the way!

Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder of national HR consulting firm wattsnext. Sue-Ellen and her team of professionals are enablers of business growth through relevant HR for the modern world. 

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Sue-Ellen Watts

Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder of wattsnext, specialists delivering relevant HR for the modern world to SMEs across the globe.

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