You could be in good company there - or, perhaps, just remain unsure what exactly "wellness" is meant to be. Here's a closer look at the jargon and whether it really holds water.
Wellness: its definition in a nutshell
If you would struggle to write a dictionary definition of "wellness", you could be easily excused for not knowing exactly what you think about it. It doesn't help that the word tends to be casually thrown together with "wellbeing", perhaps leading you to see the two as interchangeable.
However, these words actually refer to different, albeit interrelated, concepts. In an article on the LinkedIn site, wellbeing guru Jim Purcell explains the core difference between wellness and wellbeing. The former, he says, is chiefly concerned with physical health.
This is certainly what we can take away from many workplace wellness schemes, where the focus is very much on physical ailments or conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. As a result, the schemes teach subjects such as weight loss, nutrition, exercise, and quitting smoking.
Why wellness alone isn't enough
The arguments behind tackling wellness as a priority are, at least superficially, sound. After all, physically healthier employees would, theoretically, have less need for sick days or healthcare insurance. However, the causes of physical illness are often deeper-rooted than is recognised.
Even if headaches haven't quite manifested themselves, muscle pain in itself would be a cause for worry. That's because such pain can result from your body flooding itself with stress hormones such as adrenaline. Basically, muscle pain can betray your perception of your job as deeply toxic.
Your thoughts should turn to wellbeing, not just wellness
Yes, we're back to "wellbeing" again. Isn't that just another empty buzzword? Not quite. Wellbeing slightly differs from wellness in that it accounts for not just physical health but also mental, emotional and spiritual health. Consequently, it's far from just "another word" for wellness.
Unfortunately, many workplace wellness programmes overlook the holistic picture of health painted by the concept of wellbeing. If you have good wellbeing, this means you have good health, happiness, fulfilment and purpose; you reflect well on your life and are engaged with your work.
One example of a programme that takes account of all of these factors is the employee assistance programme from LifeWorks. This scheme proactively targets 100% of employees of the company where the scheme is implemented, enabling you to avoid the high failure rate of many other employee assistance programmes.