By: Dr. Nicole Cvenkel, CEO of My Work & Well-Being Consulting Inc.
Some literature uses the terms ‘stress’ and ‘well-being’ synonymously, inferring that the two terms describe the same state. To avoid confusion, it is important to note briefly the difference between them. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) defines workplace stress as the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. This definition describes physical and emotional states which comes about as a result of variances between job demands and the amount of autonomy received for meeting those demands. The concept of employee well-being has a broader meaning associated with workplace health and well-being.
Work-related stress can be seen as a dimension of employee well-being. Work stress is a significant organizational challenge for workers, and their leaders in every organization in the twenty-first century workplace. Work-related stress is a challenge faced by Northern workplaces particularly with the current economic climate that resulted in organizational downsizing and restructuring. This in turn, can negatively affect individuals through increased anxiety, heightened frustration, depression, fear and job dissatisfaction. Addressing the human problems that precede from the challenge created by work stress can enhance the well-being of workers.
PEOPLE (an organization most important asset) is the heart of any successful company especially in tough economic times. People make intangible contributions to organizations through innovation, creativity, commitment, through organizational citizenship behavior and service delivery. People play a vital role in Northern companies’ ability to compete and remain sustainable in challenging times. One way to build competitive advantage for your company is to improve work-stress and well-being of your employees.
The definition and meaning of employee well-being is emergent with a number of competing meanings, leaving a precise definition of employee well-being open and can take many forms. Baptiste, (2010) state that work-related well-being is a complex concept with multiple dimensions. Research on well-being embraces a wide range of dimensions to describe well-being as follows:
- Work-related satisfaction
- Non-related work satisfaction affected by work and general health
- Physical and psychological health at work
- Social and physical workplace
- Enthusiasm and contentment
- Depression and anxiety
- Sense of happiness
- Work Stress
- Work-Life Balance
Surprisingly, only a few organizations really understand what is meant by employee well-being before embarking on their well-being strategies and programs. Research conducted by Baptiste, (2010) defined well-being as ‘Employee Welfare including individual, group and organizational experiences and functioning within the wider experience of organizational life’.
This definition is important for multiple reasons:
- It invokes not just specific practices of HRM, Wellness Management Programs, Health Screening or Fun Programs but employees ‘holistic’ functioning and organizational experiences within the employment relationship
- It is multi-dimensional, and allows organizations to operationalize employee well-being from an individual, group and organizational perspectives
- Employee well-being suggests operating and functioning in a respectful work environment that fosters a bully-free and violence-free culture
- It promotes a holistic advantage to organizations of having a healthy workplace
- It evaluates those elements of work that employees perceive to impact their well-being (not the other way around)
- Understanding the different perspectives of work-related well-being domains have implications for the quality of life at work
- Includes those variables that an employer can realistically influence
Employee Well-being exists within a social context through collective exchanges with individuals, groups, organizational agents, lifestyles and employment changes. These aspects of the social context of work, which are perceived to influence well-being can be modified by the employer.
- Dr. Nicole Cvenkel, CEO of My Work & Well-Being Consulting Inc.