Wellness at Work: a holistic guide to a less stressful workplace


by: Simeca Alexander, Corporate Wellness Director at Working Well

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

We spend at least one third of our day at work, and another chunk of it commuting. Work itself affects how we function. If we aren’t happy at work, our entire being is disrupted as a result. Employers have a critical role to play in creating a serene working environment for employees to perform.

The domino effect of a negative mindset

Many of us wake up daily and drag ourselves to a job just because it pays the bills and we’ve already started the day off with a negative mindset. We take that mindset with us to the office and before you know it, we’re late and the domino effect has started. We’re annoyed about the memo that the boss has sent because it’s the fifth time this month (even though she is well within her right). And, because you were late, you now have to skip lunch because you have to make up for the time you missed at the start of the day. Do you get the picture?

Here’s how to reduce stress at work

There are a number of things that occur in a work day that contribute to the high levels of stress employees and managers face. Let us look at some of these contributing factors:

  • A cultural misfit

Too often the issue was instituted from the hiring of the employee. From day one there was just a cultural misfit. Simply put, it’s like sending a someone dressed for winter to fish in the Saharan desert. Might be a bit peculiar, but you get the idea right? That person has no business being out there in that kind of clothing in the desert! You can take off the jackets but he’s still going to be uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people aren’t trainable and adaptable but there are fundamental traits that contribute to ‘employee-workplace’ cohesiveness.

  • Training

Speaking of trainable and adaptable – Training is very crucial in the reciprocal relationship to ensure that the employee is knowledgeable of the description, the tasks it entails and how he can best do the job he was hired to do. This needs to be an ongoing process so that areas of improvement as well as opportunities for growth such as promotion etc. can be recognized. Managers have their roles to play to ensure that an employee is fully equipped for the job, likewise the employee to perform the requisite tasks diligently.

  • Ergonomics over aesthetics

Google defines ergonomics as “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment”. But specifically let’s venture into the physical environment; the furniture, how they are arranged, the air quality, and lighting – are they appropriate and sufficient? You can have all the items that are aesthetically pleasing but functionality is paramount. A fancy chair can be causing your employees discomfort and if gone continuously uncorrected; can present long term ill-effects which ultimately affect productivity. Ergonomics doesn’t only refer to furniture either, as ‘workplaces’ are oftentimes set outside of a physical building, such as in vehicles and on construction sites. Personal protective equipment  and all supportive tools are encompassed in the topic of ergonomics. It relates to the building location, proximity to transportation, access to food or the provision thereof.


It’s all connected

Remember the definition of ergonomics? The working environment isn’t solely physical. People, because employees and employers are just that… people; we are complex beings and we have emotional, spiritual, financial, social, intellectual and physical needs. In order for us to function at an optimal level, these needs need to be recognized and met. Otherwise, we’re just stirring a recipe for disaster.

Our personal and professional lives are intertwined within us as a person. What happens at work often spills over at home and vice versa it is very difficult to separate the two. But, personal organization, knowing your limits and enjoying your job are some of the things the individual can do to succeed. Because at the end of the day each of us is only in control of how we respond to our environment.


I fired my therapist …

So let’s backtrack:

  1. Ensure that there is a cultural fit between the new hire and the company.
  2. Incorporate ongoing training and a platform for feedback, inclusive of appraisals, this ensures motivation and growth.
  3. Assess the functionality of your workplace, physically and all the other aspects of wellness mentioned above.
  4. Lastly, take care of yourself; pay attention to your health and well-being. At whichever point something is making you unhappy, take steps towards making a change.

Bio: Pink is my favourite colour and I believe I am all that it represents – healthy, happy and content. With a Masters in Public Health (Management), BSc. Dietetics and Nutrition and personal experience with countless toxic workplace cultures I have honed skills to equip managers with the essential tools to grow their business by heightening the productivity of their greatest assets – their employees. My vision is to empower individuals to lead happier, healthier lives, one workplace at a time.

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