Wellbeing: Let's address it more than just one day a year.

It’s that time of the year when the phone starts ringing and emails begin pinging. A lot of these are asking me to speak to staff in schools and organisations about ‘Wellbeing’. As a former personal trainer, athlete, fitness instructor, massage therapist and now adventurer, and Leadership speaker, coach, facilitator and Roche Martin’s Emotional Intelligence Trainer for NZ, I deeply know the importance of such work.

I am super stoked to see schools/organisations beginning to address this need in their staff because the mental health and addiction statistics in NZ alone are grim reading:

  • The suicide rate is getting worse; a record 606 died by suicide in 2016-17, up from 579 the previous year. Our suicide rate for young people is among the worst in the OECD. The greatest loss of life through suicide occurs among people older than 24, particularly males aged 25–44.

  • Any one of us can be affected: over 50–80% of New Zealanders will experience mental distress or addiction challenges or both in their lifetime.

  • Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is causing widespread harm in New Zealand communities. Harmful use of alcohol and other drugs is significantly implicated in crime – around 60% of community-based offenders have an identified alcohol or other drug problem and 87% of prisoners have experienced an alcohol or other drug problem over their lifetime. Well over half of youth suicides involve alcohol or illicit drug exposure.

    He Ara Oranga Report, December 2018

A pattern I have found however, is that schools and organisations only tend to formally address ‘Wellbeing’ one day a year; and usually at the beginning of the year when everyone has had a well earned break. This is great at informing people around what to look for, how to maintain their wellbeing and strategies to navigate through times of disrupt, but it needs to be coupled with a more strategic approach to make a sustained difference.

It is during the year when people are under pressure and tired that they also need support. This is the time when they may need someone to talk-with to remind and reinforce previously learned strategies and help them navigate through tricky situations.

Furthermore, organisational systems, processes and culture need to be reviewed. In my work, I notice much of the stress people feel at work is related to poor systems or lines of communication. A deep review of everything that helps or hinders organisational wellbeing, supports organisations to become strategic about supporting and sustaining Wellbeing.

My questions to you are:

  • What are you doing to create a culture of care within your organisation?

  • How proactive and strategic are you being around Wellbeing?

Finally, it is no longer OK to offer Wellbeing lip-service - we have done that for decades, and it hasn’t worked!

As leaders, are you going to be part of the problem, or the solution?

Want to know more? Check out my Wellbeing at Work offerings.