Creating Wellness in the Workplace

August 26, 2018


This guest post is by Peter Lane, Wellness and Organizational Coach and Maryland Nonprofits Associate Consultant, who’ll present on Wellness in the Workplace at #MANOAC18, part of the HUMAN RESOURCES learning area.

Staff and volunteers at nonprofit organizations are often so passionate and committed to their cause that they forget to take care of themselves. The demands of funding shortfalls, being short-staffed, facing tight deadlines, and addressing urgent needs leaves little time for self-care. We must be mindful to avoid creating stressful and unhealthy workplaces that are misaligned with the values we espouse.

After 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, I have come to believe that the more we focus on the wellness of the sector’s greatest resource—its people—the more likely we are to build healthy organizations equipped to successfully address society’s greatest challenges. According to the World Health Organization, wellness is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.” In a broader sense, wellness is bringing intentionality to the choices we make about our lives and achieving our full potential as individuals.

Support wellness in the workplace starting with yourself by taking simple, practical steps. Those in leadership roles can be a model for others, as demonstrating the importance of taking care of yourself will give others “permission” to do the same. As an organization, you must examine what you are doing to promote wellness and institute practices that make it easier for staff and volunteers to make wellness choices. 

Here are some easy steps to get started:

  1. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to take a break every 90 minutes. Your break can be as simple as sitting quietly with your eyes closed for five minutes, taking a brief walk around the office or outside, or doing office stretches. Regular breaks will keep you energized and increase your focus.
  2. Increase your physical activity through Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), or the calories you burn whenever you move, even standing up from your chair. Some NEAT ideas include taking calls while standing or pacing, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking in the farthest parking spot in the lot or a block away. Move the trash can, recycling, and printer away from your desk so you have to get up and walk to them.
  3. Make healthier snack options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, more readily available, and always provide them in addition to the sweets that are an important part of workplace celebrations and building community.
  4. Revisit your strategic plan to see how wellness is reflected in your organization’s values statement or in your internal goals. If it’s not there, begin a conversation with your staff and board. Focusing on wellness also helps your bottom line by potentially decreasing the number of sick days, staff turnover, and sometimes the cost of health insurance.

Wellness in the workplace is about small, realistic steps and making more intentional choices. Find a partner, or a small group of co-workers, who will support you and join you in creating a healthier, happier workplace.

To learn more techniques to bring wellness to your workplace, be sure to attend Peter’s session at #MANOAC18 coming up on October 4!


About the Author


Peter Lane is a Maryland Nonprofits Associate Consultant, a Mayo Clinic-certified health and wellness coach, and an organizational development consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. He works with individuals and teams that are committed to ongoing learning, reflection, and making positive change for themselves and their organizations. Peter specializes in organizational change and leadership and team development. He is a wellness coach for individuals, and facilitates wellness workshops and board and staff discussions about wellness in the workplace. Send Peter an email.