Wellness—in all its forms—is fundamental to healthy, balanced living, and that includes the workplace. This piece looks at the significance of occupational wellness and how it affects existence. It matters because the average American spends a third of their life or 90,000 hours working. There are effective ways to improve personal occupational care. First, one must understand the issues .
Employment is beneficial to overall wellness though not everyone feels that way. Those who do are content with their salary and enjoy decent work conditions. They also have a harmonious work-life balance and room to grow if they want it .
Healthy Work Environment Defined
A healthy workplace is well-organized, has trust, open communication, and a degree of flexibility. It offers benefits, rewards, and incentives to the workers, and it promotes wellness. That can include investments in areas of healthcare and health-related education. Happy workers tend to be more productive too. Their life is less stressful, more enjoyable, and thus easier to manage , .
The following sections look at the things that can cause people to suffer at work. Some are obvious and others less so. The article then explores ways to achieve and maintain occupational wellness.
Occupational Sickness Defined
What we do know is that an unhappy work environment produces a discontent workforce. Sometimes, though, it’s the worker rather than the surroundings that needs fixing.
Here are seven of the common causes of occupational sickness:
- Not getting along with the boss or coworkers
- An intense dislike of the career or certain work
- Bad attitude
- The daily commute
- No opportunity for growth
- Feeling unappreciated
- Overworked and underpaid (financial stress)
Most of us experience some of the work-related negatives above at times. Problems arise when they become chronic or long-lasting. Over 50% of Americans are unfulfilled and discontent at work according to a 2017 Gallup poll. That’s why so many employers and employees now seek to make work life better. Thus, occupational wellness is vital for both personal and professional wellbeing , .
#1 Not getting along with the boss or coworkers
Some bosses and coworkers can be difficult to get along with. Poor relationships—especially with superiors—are the leading cause of misery in the modern workplace. That’s according to a 2015 survey by Gallup. The knock-on effect is detrimental to occupational well-being. Unhealthy work relationships can lead to absenteeism, depression, poor performance, and less profit .
Potential solution(s): Come to terms with the reality of the situation. Look at probable ways to resolve your position. A frank yet level-headed chat is often enough to clear the air and reset the relationship. If that fails, talk to the boss’ boss—if there is one—or consider a transfe
#2 A dislike for the job
A study by The University of Manchester discovered some startling facts. It found that a long-term dislike of work can lead to mental health issues. The unhappiest groups were in mundane, low-paid jobs or high-stress occupations. Other contributing factors were hostile colleagues or bosses and long hours. Finding the time to seek, apply, and interview for new employment is not always feasible .
Potential solution(s): Consider a transfer to another department if possible. You can also start to devise a plan and prepare to move on at some point. Constructive action—as opposed to negative thoughts—can produce a positive boost to attitude and outlook.
#3 Bad attitude
Sometimes, people point the finger at anyone or anything to justify workplace dissatisfaction. If everyone is wrong, the problem is likely to be you. Those with negative attitudes often look for blame outside of themselves. That’s because we can’t always see ourselves how others see us. A little honest self-evaluation during a moment of calm is never a bad thing.
Potential solution(s): Force new habits and change the way you view people and situations. Only criticize when it’s constructive. Pitch in and become more involved with those around you. Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. Most important of all, know when it’s time to quit in any given situation .
#4 The daily commute
Few people relish the commute to and from work, yet it’s unavoidable for millions of Americans. The daily commute is taking longer, according to the American Community Survey (ACS). Over 14 million workers spend 1+ hours traveling to work at the last count in 2017. Commuting can cause more stress than the job the person is commuting to , .
Potential solution(s): You don’t have to detest the daily commute on public transport. The secret is to take on a whole new approach and do something positive with the travel time. Meditation apps help many people to unwind and arrive at work fresh and ready to go. Reading is another popular way to distract oneself from the journey. Breathing techniques and people-watching are two more .
#5 No opportunity for growth
It’s quite usual to like a new job or career, but if nothing changes it can soon get boring. Any work that you can do with your eyes shut—figuratively speaking—has become monotonous. A study by Florida State University revealed the unhealthy consequences of workplace boredom. Jobs that fail to stimulate the mind can have a negative long-term cognitive effect, say psychologists .
Potential solution(s): Are there any parts to the job you do enjoy? If yes, is there room to expand in those areas? If not, decide to leave your occupational comfort zone. Consider transfers or retraining opportunities either inside or outside the company.
#6 Feel unappreciated
Most workers welcome a pat on the back for a job well done, but they don’t always get it. When someone is undervalued and unappreciated in the workplace, it hurts their occupational well-being. It makes the person feel insecure and enervated, which drains energy and diverts focus. And research shows that verbal appreciation works better than any monetary reward .
Potential solution(s): Talk it out no matter how uncomfortable that encounter may seem. To remain silent and do nothing only exacerbates the issue. A lack of appreciation is often a case of misunderstanding rather than deliberate intent. If a positive change looks unlikely, then the only choices are to accept things for the way they are or leave .
Too much work is bad for health. Some people thrive on a heavy workload, but the long-term health issues of overwork can affect us all. Lack of sleep is one of them. It’s not the hours spent in bed that matters as much as the quality of slumber. Chronic sleep loss is harmful to occupational well-being. Napping at every chance is a clear indicator of a disrupted sleep pattern .
Potential solution(s): First, recognize that more input does not necessarily result in extra output. Understand your limitations and look at ways to create a better work-life balance.
Improve Occupational Wellness
The rest of this piece looks at how to improve and maintain occupational wellness. It’s a vital dimension of well-being not least because we spend so much time in the workplace. Going to work 5–6 days a week for at least 8-hours a day is a long time miserable. It’s why both employers and employees now take occupational well-being so seriously.
There are five areas of focus for occupational well-being and personal development:
- Achieve an ideal work-life balance
- Know how to reduce and manage work-related stress
- Build and maintain healthy friendships with coworkers
- Build and maintain healthy relationships with bosses
- Set realistic goals
It’s important in life to always have something to look forward to. To be content at work carries over to a happier personal life and vice versa.
#1 The importance of work life balance
To have an efficient work-life balance puts you in control. You’re happier and more optimistic than someone who hasn’t managed to strike a balance between the two. Your optimism rubs off at work. That results in healthier relationships with bosses and coworkers. You suffer less stress and maintain a motivated state. That, in turn, makes you more likable, approachable, and productive.
The role of employers
Work-life balance benefits employers and employees. That’s why so many US companies now actively promote themselves as “work-life friendly.” It’s not a legal obligation, but it’s now recognized as a benefit to all. Below are some of the incentives we can see from progressive businesses .
- Flexible work schedules
- Part-time and job share opportunities
- Work from home
- Let employees switch off at an agreed time outside regular work hours
- Sponsor interactive activities and outings for the staff
- Unpaid leave for life cycle needs
- Health-related incentives
- Child care services
#2 Manage work related stress
Stress at work is toxic to occupational wellness. Learn to identify and deal with the recognized workplace stressors. We have covered many of these already. Common ones include low incomes, high demands, no opportunity for growth, and monotony. Others are no control over decisions, conflicts with others, and job insecurity. Workplace stress tends to follow you home too .
Here are a few practical ways to reduce or eliminate work-related stress:
- Keep a journal to track specific stressors
- Set boundaries and stick to them
- Allow for some ‘Me Time’ to recharge
- Find ways to relax and incorporate it into your lifestyle routine
- Talk openly to your supervisor or boss about what you’re going through
- Build a trustworthy support network of family members and close friends
#3 Form healthy friendships at work
The Gallup Organization says people with friends in the workplace are more engaged in their job. Not everybody has friends at work, though. Many view the people they work with as colleagues rather than pals. There’s no need for this divide. Having friends and being friendly is not the same. The research shows that people with genuine friendships at work are happier and more productive , .
Below are suggestions on how to build and maintain better work relationships:
- Reach out and engage in a less formal way
- Show a genuine interest in others
- Focus on the positive; a positive attitude is an attractive quality
- Listen actively 
- Avoid workplace gossip at all times
#4 Form a healthy relationship with the boss
It pays to have healthy relationships with bosses and supervisors. It makes the working environment more enjoyable for one. There may also be a time when you need a favor or a reference. The simple suggestions below demonstrate a few ways to form healthy relationships with superiors:
- Be a stickler for timekeeping
- Be respectful even if you disagree about something
- Be yourself and don’t try to impress when there’s no need
- Observe and get familiar with the boss’ work style
- Maintain open communication
- Respect the preferred communication method, i.e., formal, or semi-formal
- Take initiatives and request meetings when appropriate
- Be prepared to go the extra mile on occasions
It’s wise to acknowledge certain boundaries between you and the boss and vice versa .
#5 Set realistic goals
Having occupational goals gives life purpose but set realistic targets. That doesn’t mean thinking small, but you should know your limitations. The great thing about achievable milestones is that you can always make new challenges as you progress. Here are some suggestions on the ways forward:
- Set the primary occupational goal
- Don’t be vague, be specific
- Use mini goals as stepping stones to the main aim
- Increase knowledge and learn new skills that can help to achieve the goal
- Set a time frame or deadline
- Seek the advice of a career counselor if you hit a block
A structure is crucial in goal setting. You can tweak things along the way if necessary, but you do need a written plan. That’s your starting point and what you use to monitor progress .
Signs that You Are Occupationally Well
You should know whether you’re occupationally well if you’ve read the text above. Use the quick checklist here to periodically gauge your occupational wellness:
|Your work interests and motivates you||✔|
|You strike the ideal balance between work and leisure time||✔|
|You work in a way that agrees with your style of learning||✔|
|You effectively communicate and collaborate with others||✔|
|You can efficiently work alone or as part of a team||✔|
|You feel inspired and challenged||✔|
|You feel good after a day’s work and look forward to tomorrow||✔|
An Unsung Hero of Occupational Wellness: She Owns It
If you’re looking to improve your work-life balance, move up at work, or turn your side hustle into a viable career, She Owns It is the website for you, regardless of your gender. Sure, many of the articles focus largely on women in business, but the advice is sound and worth sharing with everyone looking to improve their occupational wellness.
Founded by Melissa Stewart, She Owns It provides amazing tips on networking, fighting imposter syndrome, making great videos for your business, and more. Get started down the path toward better occupational wellness with this insightful, helpful blog.
Andy has a first class honours degree in Biology from Hull University, a Ph.D from Cardiff University, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Birmingham University. He is on a life-long quest to feel more awesome 😉