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Is “Wellness” On The Job Possible Without Greater Work Flexibility?

How do we square the circle of wellness in the workplace with studies showing more Americans are work on the weekends and that people now think that a 40-hour workweek is a reduced schedule?

Fotolia_7604390_XSAccording to the 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey, five out of ten full-time employees believe that their “health is affected–you’re stressed or lack time for exercise” without the ability to work flexibly.

How do we square the circle of wellness in the workplace with studies showing more Americans are work on the weekends and that people now think that a 40-hour workweek is a reduced schedule?

The solution seems to be greater flexibility in how, when and where people can work in order to engage in the activities that contribute to health and well-being, such as exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep. But is wellness on the job possible without work+life flexibility?

To answer this question, I asked health and well-being communication expert Fran Melmed of Context Communications, Inc. and the Free Range Communications blog, to weigh in. Here’s what she had to say:

Cali Yost: Fran, every time I hear about a wellness initiative in the workplace, I find myself wondering how it will succeed if it isn’t paired with greater flexibility in the way people are able to their jobs? Do you need work+life flexibility to increase health and well-being on the job?

Fran Melmed: I’m sorry, Cali, but I just can’t get on board with the assumption that people who don’t have flexibility in the way they work can’t achieve increased wellness. Is flexibility part and parcel to wellness? Yes if it lowers stress but you don’t need flexibility to get started. It just enhances whatever you’re trying to do.

Part of the issue is that companies are way too narrow in their definition of well-being. It should include the ability to affect the world, and the mind-body connection. Wellness is also about being able to manage my money and work in my community. All of these things can be enhanced by flexibility, but you don’t have to wait for it before you begin incorporating these things into your life. Maybe you just have to be a bit more “planful.”

Cali Yost: Thank you, Fran. I have to agree with you. Yes, having flexibility in the way you work might improve your chances of engaging in more activities that promote wellness in its broadest sense. But a little better planning can also go a long way!

For more health and well-being wisdom from Fran Melmed, check out her wonderful blog free-range communication and follow her on Twitter @femelmed.

What do you think? Can you have health and wellness in the workplace without greater work+life flexibility? How can being more “planful” help?

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