Having a career in the green industry means many demands on an employee, both physically and mentally. But improving one’s overall wellness can be beneficial and allow them to flourish within the industry.
That was the message from Laure Butcher, assistant director of personal training at Auburn University, during her presentation “An Introduction to Wellness for Landscapers” at SiteOne’s annual Women in Green Industry event in October in San Antonio, Texas. This was also the 25th anniversary of WIGI and the first time the event’s taken place in person since 2019.
Butcher says the simplest definition of wellness is the optimal state of health for individuals and groups. She went on to define health as being sound in body, mind and spirit. So, to achieve wellness, Butcher says there are eight dimensions people should focus on: physical, emotional, financial, intellectual, occupational, environmental, spiritual and social.
Butcher shared several practices contractors can do to achieve wellness in each dimension in their own personal life and organizationally as a business.
Butcher says the physical dimension starts with regular exercise and healthy eating. But an understanding and appreciation for the behaviors that impact physical health is also needed — along with routine checkups. Companies looking to improve (or prioritize) employees’ physical health should provide them access to fitness facilities, nourishing food while working and access to quiet areas.
According to Butcher, one achieves intellectual wellness by being a life-long learner and open minded, along with participating in regular personal and educational development. To promote intellectual wellness within a company, Butcher says only hold meetings with substance. “Don’t meet just to meet,” she told attendees. Providing opportunities for personal development is ideal, along with allowing leave for attending those opportunities.
“Remove yourself from the mindset that spiritual means religious,” Butcher says. “Spiritual does not always equate to religion.” Butcher adds that being spiritually healthy means having a sense of purpose, practicing mindfulness and having a congruency between your values and your actions. Companies looking to boost spiritual wellness should allow and respect differing opinions along with providing mindfulness and resilience training.
When it comes to emotional wellness, Butcher says it’s about acknowledging and sharing one’s feelings, plus how someone copes with challenges and conflict resolution. She adds that easy ways for businesses to help employees with their emotional health include organizing peer support groups, formal mentoring programs and employee assistance programs.
Butcher says prioritizing social wellness is about establishing and maintaining positive relationships, having a sense of connection with your support system and being able to relate to others. Social wellness in the workplace can look like conflict resolution and communication training, and a healthy work culture that includes organized social events. But Butcher says that companies should never make these events mandatory. “Some people won’t want to do these things and you have to respect that,” she says.
If someone’s trying to evaluate their occupational wellness, Butcher suggests asking yourself these questions: Why do you do what you do? Do you gain fulfillment through work? Do you have a desire to contribute to it? Companies can help employees with this dimension of wellness by giving regular feedback.
“Feedback should also be from the bottom up and not always the top down,” she notes. Butcher says it’s also important for there to be a “no-blame” culture, flexible rostering and regular annual leave within an organization.
Butcher says this dimension is about having a positive impact on the environment. Organizations and individuals should recognize their impact on Earth, Butcher says. Also, community involvement can improve one’s environmental wellness.
To achieve financial wellness, Butcher says someone needs to understand various financial circumstances and seek professional advice if needed. Preparedness and budgeting go hand-in-hand with this as well, she adds. Companies can improve employees’ financial wellness be providing fair/equitable pay and access to financial planning, budget training and similar tools.
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