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What is Workplace Wellness?

Wellness is a term that is used to refer to a wide variety of ideas and practises in today’s popular culture. Wellness in relation to health is a holistic view of well-being and includes all aspects of health, from physical to social. Workplace wellness supports employees' health and well-being from this holistic approach.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) provides a September 2022 webinar (click here to access) that outlines what wellness is, and how workplace wellness impacts employees and businesses. This resource is not early learning and child care (ELCC) specific, but it covers the material in an easy to understand way that can be used in an ELCC context by both ELCC employers and ELCC employees.

Key Takeaways

The webinar opens with something that is incredibly relevant to those who work with children - that it is important to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

For the purpose of this topic, Dr. Philip Desormeau, defines the following:

Wellness: includes spiritual, environmental, social, physical, and emotional health.

Stress: usually shorter in duration, impacts are physical and emotional.

Burnout: stress that goes on for too long, and is accompanied by increased physical and emotional symptoms such as exhaustion, cynicism, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. On a personal level, burnout can evolve into bigger physical and mental health issues. On a professional level, burnout reduces focus, increases the occurrence of negative workplace interactions, and lowers motivation and productivity.

Based on the research for this webinar, those who experience burnout are 2.6x more likely to seek a different job.

6 causes of burnout in employees

  1. Unclear work expectations (not knowing what is expected in your role)
  2. Negative work environment (interpersonal conflict, micromanaging, etc.)
  3. Extremes of work activity (too slow or too fast paced)
  4. Lack of control (in particular feeling unable to influence decision making)
  5. Lack of social support (within the workplace, but also outside of work)
  6. Work-life imbalance (work stressors can impact life outside work)

6 strategies to reduce high stress that leads to burnout

  1. Open dialogue with employees to clarify job expectations

*In the webinar the idea of including “clients” in the open dialogue can be seen, from an ELCC lens, as including parents. The expectations of parents can impact programming and the ELCC environment.

  1. Healthy work environment (implementing strategies to lower dysfunction; in particular it is noted the importance of recognition techniques for employees)
  2. Breaking up the work day

*In the webinar, the idea that not all work environments can support regular breaks is highlighted and that these environments can be supported with “microbreaks” - in an ELCC workplace this may look like having the staffing to support when someone needs to step out of the room. Additionally, the impact of working on your breaks is discussed - ECEs working on planning during their scheduled breaks would be an example of this.

  1. Change perspective and/or change attitude

*The importance of open communication is highlighted, as well as the positive impact of employers providing ways for their employees to connect with why they do the work. From an ELCC lens, this could include processes to support ECEs connecting with why they chose to be an ECE.

  1. Build social connections (providing processes and opportunities for coworkers to build relationships)
  2. Employers supporting work-life balance of employees, as well as employees finding ways to ensure they can maintain their own work-life balance.

This webinar concludes with a review of CFIB’s workplace wellness resources and tools, which you can find by clicking here.

Interested in additional resources about Workplace Wellness? Click here for the now dissolved Child Care Human Resources Sector Council (CCHRSC) research on the topic.

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