Actionable Ways HR Can Support Employees in all 8 Areas of Wellness - a man outside doing yoga

Actionable Ways HR Can Support Employees in all 8 Areas of Wellness

Haeli Harris
January 23, 2023
October 18, 2022

Eight areas of wellness? It may seem like a lot, but humans are highly complex—and we work hard.

Work takes up 90,000 hours of the average person's life. That's 11,250 8-hour workdays.

As work demands more and more of employees, employees are demanding more and more from their companies. Specifically, holistic workforce wellness programs and mental health support.

Wellness programs that support the 8 dimensions of wellness have the highest chance of successfully helping employees heal and grow.

We will be going more in-depth on each of the wellness areas—the parts of our being that we need to take care of. We will then provide actionable ways to support that area of wellness for your team.  

What are the 8 areas of wellness?

Have you ever felt energized and less anxious after a great workout, eating a healthy meal, or taking a hot bath? Then you know a bit about the 8 areas of wellness.

Here are the 8 areas of wellness:

  1. Occupational
  3. Physical
  5. Emotional
  7. Social
  9. Intellectual
  11. Spiritual/Purpose
  13. Financial
  15. Environmental

All of these aspects make up a person's multidimensional wellbeing.

This may seem like a lot. But no worries! It is not as intimidating as it may seem.

Supporting Employees in the 8 Areas of Wellness

In order to support the whole employee, companies need to consider multidimensional wellbeing. Let's dive into the 8 areas of wellness and what you can do for your team in each area.

1. Occupational

This area of wellness is directly tied to your place of employment. Occupational (aka vocational) wellness at its best leads to fulfillment and satisfaction. When a person uses their talents, gifts, and ideas to do their work, they are more likely to experience healthy occupational wellness. It is also crucial for a person's line of work to align with their goals, values, and personality.

Occupational wellness is tied to company culture as well. This wellness area can suffer if employees don't feel supported by their managers, their relationships with coworkers are poor, or the culture places unrealistic or unnecessary expectations.

Addressing all of the other areas of wellness will help boost occupational health as well.

What HR Can Do

As an employer, you can help fulfill this need by improving company culture, hiring for a proper best fit, and placing employees in areas where they can use their unique personality, talents, and skills optimally.

2. Physical

Our physical wellness includes how we eat, exercise, and sleep. Our physical health includes our posture while we work, how many breaks we take during the workday, and how late we stay up to work.  To support this area of wellness at Nivati, we've held a "walk across the nation" competition to see who could get the most steps over a year. We ended up walking and running enough as a team to travel to each city or town our team members live in.

What HR Can Do

You can help employees by providing access to fitness classes, yoga classes, and nutrition classes through a wellness program. Encourage your team members to take a walk during the workday. Or, have a contest to see who can run the most miles in a month. Turn those notifications off well before bed to help the body prepare for a good night's rest. You can also take some time during a company meeting to do a quick yoga session together.  

3. Emotional

This area of wellness is all about building emotional intelligence. It is about respecting others’ feelings and healthily managing emotions.

You can do this by setting an example for your employees. Create an environment where it is okay to express feelings. We are all human, after all!

96% of workers believe that empathy from company leaders is essential for employee retention.

Help foster good feelings by showing genuine interest in others, their interests, and how they are doing.

Check out this resource for more on how to encourage employees with their mental and emotional health.

What HR Can Do

Providing employee counseling is a superb way to address emotional wellness. All of us need to have someone to confide in with our feelings. You can also offer life coaching for those that may not be interested in therapy. It's also in the little things—let your employees know that you appreciate them. Encourage managers to provide support. Publicly recognize employees when they do a great job.

4. Social

The social dimension of wellness is all about building great, loving relationships with others and being a part of a supportive group.

This one is a must, especially for remote teams. Meeting social needs is a significant challenge for remote workers. Many feel disconnected from their coworkers and are feeling the effects of little social interaction.

You can address multiple areas of wellness at once by having a yoga or meditation session with your team during your company-wide meeting.

What HR Can Do

A simple thing you can do to help the social dimension is to have the video on during Zoom calls. We all want to see some smiling faces!

Team happy hours, culture clubs, and days off to spend time with family are other great ways to support this area of wellness.

Consider getting your team together in person outside of work. Check out these 38 outing ideas.

5. Intellectual

We need to be intellectually stimulated. Our intellectual wellbeing can be supported by reading, learning, problem-solving, playing strategic games, and more.

What HR Can Do

Work with your company managers to set aside time each quarter just for learning. This can look like a Certification Day or take a half-hour each week to brush up on the latest industry news or topics related to your role. Include employees in brainstorming sessions and make them an active part of future planning for the company.

You can also have a team book club or cooking class.

6. Spiritual/Purpose

Spiritual wellness can include our religious beliefs, values, and how we find meaning in life. Mindfulness ties into our spiritual wellness—it is essential for the soul to be in the present moment.

This dimension of wellbeing can also be viewed as our purpose (our "why" in life), and doing things that fulfill us.

This can also look like taking time for reflection through journaling.

What HR Can Do

Provide opportunities for employees to reflect through meditation or journaling. Encourage employees to take mental health days or to take their full PTO. We all need to step away from work so we can return refreshed and renewed.

You can also revisit your company values and have an open dialogue about what those mean for your employees. What do those values look like when they are acted out? How do those values relate to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing?

7. Financial

Employee financial stress costs employers $500 billion every year. 58% of Americans feel that money controls their life. Financial concerns significantly impact mental health and even physical health, leading to fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Financial wellness at its best doesn't allow finances to gain control of you.

What HR Can Do

You can provide financial courses to help employees learn how to budget, pay off debt, and meet their financial goals. You can also provide employees opportunities to advance through internal recruitment.

Reimbursement programs for therapy, tuition, and more can also help support employee financial wellbeing.

8. Environmental

The environmental area of wellness is all about reconnecting with nature. Being in nature can help lift your mood, decrease anxiety, and improve focus.

Environmental wellness can also include our workspace. Is it cluttered? Noisy? A clean, distraction-free workspace is a simple way to reduce daily stress.

What HR Can Do

At Nivati, we’ll fly out members of our team meet to go hiking, biking, and even mountain climbing! If your team works together in person, consider walking meetings or simply taking the meeting outside the office.  

Next Steps

So there you have it—how to support employees in all 8 areas of wellness.

Start by addressing one area and see what happens. Survey employees to see how they are doing in each area. Ask employees what they need and provide whatever you can.

It all ties back to company culture. Addressing the areas of wellness as a team is an excellent way to nurture and grow your culture.

If you're interested in supporting the 8 dimensions of wellness for your team, check out Nivati's multidimensional approach to employee wellbeing.

Love helping others? Self-care is a prerequisite. Join a support group.


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Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Director of Clinical Operations at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.