Are You Treating Workplace Wellbeing Like A Marathon Or A Sprint?


One of my favourite stories as a kid was that old fable about the tortoise and the hare. In fact, I have a little tortoise on my desk to remind me that slow and steady often wins the race. Sometimes we can all try and take action like “a bull at a gate”. I know that when we set our minds to something, we often want it yesterday. But so many times we fail to set goals for ourselves that are really achievable and do some real reflection about why the decision we made is important to us.

I think many organisations have taken a “hare’s attitude” when it comes to addressing wellbeing in their workplace. Organisations are finally recognising the importance of workplace wellbeing. But so many organisations are looking for that quick fix, that bandaid measure they can facilitate that allows them to simply sprint to the finish line and announce “ticked that one off the list”. But when it comes to wellbeing, it should not be a quick fix. Addressing the wellbeing of the people in your workplace should be a marathon, not a sprint.

A recent report by KPMG and Mental Health Australia launched in May 2018 found that workplace interventions can generate return on investment of $1.30 to over $4.70 for every dollar invested. The studies are conclusive that when the lives of individuals improve, benefits flow through to the organisation and as a result the economy.

Interventions that improve mental health and wellbeing overall can increase labour productivity and reduce absenteeism. Having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a fabulous opportunity to assist staff, but is it enough? Given the opportunities and the return on investment, isn’t it time organisations started to consider a comprehensive opportunity to consider the wellbeing of all from not only a reactive perspective, but also a proactive perspective.

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Organisations have an opportunity to really consider a holistic approach to their wellbeing strategy.

Consider the opportunities:

1)      What is your Organisation’s Wellbeing Why?

If an organisation is passionate about wellbeing, then a couple of questions need to be asked and answered:

·         Why do we do what we do in relation to our wellbeing?

·         What is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires us?

·         How do our values align with wellbeing?

·         What is our wellbeing why?

2)      Is wellbeing part of everything we do?

When you started your current job, did you go through an induction? If you are a part of a medium to large employer, this was undoubtedly the case. You probably were exposed to policies and procedures, manual handling, emergency procedures, the hierarchy within the organisation and work health and safety which was probably geared more to physical health. But did your induction really address wellbeing and how you could have the opportunity to thrive in your new workplace?

3)      Awareness is just not about Illness.

Many organisations spend a lot of time and money educating staff about mental illness and what to look for in someone who has a diagnosed mental illness and how to identify and manage this. But what about those that are in fact languishing, but do not have a diagnosed mental health condition. There is in fact a hidden pathology. An individual may not meet the criteria for a diagnosis, however none the less are experiencing reduced focus, lethargy, poor motivation and morale. Interestingly “absenteeism” costs Australian businesses $4.71 billion dollars per year whereas “presenteeism” costs $6.1 billion per year.

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4)      Address thriving not just surviving

A focus on mental illness without focusing on mental health is not a holistic wellbeing strategy.  Mental Health is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Traditionally, approaches to psychological functioning in the workplace have focused on the negative impact that work and the work environment can have on employees and organisations. Understanding this can contribute to preventing mental illnesses and losses in productivity. However, an approach that focuses solely on the dysfunctional elements of work does not adequately capture the elements of the workplace that engage employees, and develop environments where employees thrive and reach their optimal potential.

We need to be able to assist people thrive by:

·         Proactively providing skills to manage stress

·         Providing skills to build resilience and mental toughness.

·         Enhancing opportunities for innovation and curiosity

·         Embracing a growth mindset within the organisation

·         Looking at a strengths based approach

·         Adopting a coaching culture.

We can provide individuals with psychological skills training and leaders with skills to promote wellbeing.

So, consider, how could your organisation benefit from being clear about its “Wellbeing Why?

Want t0 know more about promoting wellbeing in your workplace and perhaps addressing your wellbeing why? Consider a wellbeing strategy for your workplace and Facilitate a wellbeing strategy session. Contact Michelle Bakjac at for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is a Psychologist, Trainer/ Facilitator and Coach with more than 25 years of experience. Her expertise ranges from facilitating workplace wellness training and organisation wellbeing strategy, to personal and leadership coaching to organisational development and leadership training programs. Michelle is a Mental Toughness Practitioner/Coach who specialises in assessing and developing Mental Toughness in individuals and teams. Michelle also provides individuals counselling through private sessions and EAP services as a Registered Psychologist. Michelle’s goal is to accelerate resilience, growth and success for both individuals and organisations. Find out more at