In 2014, wellness in the workplace moved from being an employee engagement ‘nice to have’ driven by HR to becoming one of corporate Australia’s most critical business imperatives.

Evidence proves that organisations who fail to manage Wellness at Work will experience a very challenging 2015. This includes under performance, poor productivity, absenteeism and claims relating to mental health all resulting from employee stress and pressure. These organisations represent a large share of the multibillion dollar impact of mental health issues in Australian workplaces this year.

However, organisationsthat choose to take the lead in promoting wellness in their business, not only protect that all-important balance sheet and culture, but are also supported by a workforce whois more creative, productive, energetic and resilient with higher discretionary effort, job performance and work satisfaction. This also leads to a more relaxed, dynamic, fun, innovative and successful work environment.

While experienced talent management professionals have understood this for a while, this year we have seen a dramatic shift in the view of executive teams and the C-suite where inaction on wellness is no longer seen as a nice option from both a human capital and business sustainability perspective.Interestingly, Australian studies in recent years have shown between a $1.63 and $2.30 ROI for every dollar spent promoting wellness. In my capacity of Managing Director ofAlchemy Career Management, these are the key findings that we have learned from organisations who have who have gottheir wellness at work right and as a result have achieved great outcomes for their staff and their

1) Engage the CEO and the executive team

If the CEO is not ready to live the message in and out of the office, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve behaviour change across the business. On the positive side, even if the executive team are in the most need (which is usually the case), shifts in their behaviour not only enhance their own performance and their own executive brand, this is also powerful role modelling for everyone else.

“If they can find the time, then I sure can!”

2) Assess the need

Don’t assume anything. Talk to your staff and investigate the pressure points. This will allow you to implement a tailored and targeted program. Initiatives can range from health checks, vaccinations, gym subsidies and the provision of fruit through to wellness workshops and family balance support. In reality, most of these initiatives are inexpensive but have a significant and measurable impact on staff wellness and your employment brand. For instance, staff who attended our Wellness@Work program experienced an 8 percent drop in their stress level and 16 percent less workload pressure within only six weeks.

3) Train your team leaders

Your team leaders are the front line in getting key wellness conversations started, thus promoting the right behaviour and reinforcing support over the long term. Our experience has shown that this is not about rah rah wellness messages; it’s driven by day to daybusiness as usual conversations in which a team leader goes about supporting and managing their team.

4) Track progress

Having a tracking mechanism agreed and communicated upfront is important. Individuals are accountable for change when they know that there is a built in review, even if it’s a simple self-report survey. Tracking progress allows you to celebrate success and identify specific risk factors that may need further intervention.

5) Have fun with it

At its core, wellness at work is a positive message that facilitates life happiness as well as career success. There is a world of opportunity to use wellness as a way to engage teams in fun activities and share in positive newsstories. Positive examples we’ve seen include group cooking classes, walking meetings, yoga in the boardroom and one team even formed a band!

Therefore, the emotional and the all-important business case is crystal clear. Wellness at Work is the right thing to do and doing nothing, represents a financial and operational risk to organisations. The good news is that by taking a few achievable steps, any business can have a more relaxed, productive, successful and well 2015.

Christopher Paterson is the managing director of ALCHEMY Career Management, a firm which supports individuals to transition their career, assists companies adapting to organisational change and delivers Wellness@Work™ programs for any organisation wanting to help staff to be at their best.  For more information, please see