In the workplace, the National Workplace Wellness Policy makes provisions to guide employers and employees in implementing robust and sustainable wellness programmes and policies at the workplace level. Lead Author of the National Policy Dr Dwayne Devonish noted that oftentimes organizations adopt and implement workplace wellness programmes and policies that lack sustainability (i.e. effective only for a short time) with no scientific measures to evaluate their efficacy (with no emphasis on other dimensions of wellness outside of the physical dimension).
The Policy compensates for these shortcomings in prior policy attempts, emphasizing a holistic wellness concept and an effective implementation and evaluation framework. In fact, when the Policy was developed, an easy to follow implementation and evaluation model was created by Devonish to ensure that certain principles were followed and executed in proper form.
This invention was called the 4-E Framework for Policy Implementation (a model that can be used for any policy implementation effort). Hence, the Policy emphasizes and operates under four guiding principles for execution and implementation:
· Educate: To increase awareness, knowledge and competencies regarding various wellness concepts, frameworks and practices. Educating workers and managers in wellness and wellness programming allows for a productive way to break certain preconceived notions and biases surrounding wellness. It also provides a necessary baseline for acceptance and support.
· Enable: To create an enabling environment through the provision of accessible opportunities, resources and support systems. Enabling is critical because education is insufficient and does always convert to action. Hence, organizations must provide an enabling environment to apply their knowledge and education gained on wellness and wellness programming by having access to the opportunities, resources and support systems that make wellness a reality.
· Engage: To actively engage employees in the design/adoption and implementation of appropriate wellness initiatives, programmes and activities in a collaborative manner. Engaging and involving workers in the development and implementation process is key to ensuring that workers remain committed to the success of wellness efforts and provides great benefits when all hands are on deck.
· Encourage: To reinforce constructive wellness behaviours and efforts through positive and attractive rewards and incentives. Incentives and rewards systems incorporated within the performance management systems of the organization help to incentivise and sustain wellness efforts and behaviours among employees in the longer term.
The Policy seeks to achieve the following overarching goals:
– To enhance national awareness and education on the immeasurable value of wellness as both an indicator and driver of individual, organizational and national productivity and development;
– To foster the necessary conditions for the development of healthy workplace environments, comprehensive and well-guided organizational-level wellness policies, programmes, and cultures;
– To facilitate and maintain strategic partnerships with various national stakeholders (employers, Government, trade unions, educational institutions and other civil society and community-based organizations) to promote and sustain a high quality of health and wellness in the general working population;
– To strategically and comprehensively guide, support, enable, monitor and evaluate organizational and individual actions and efforts aimed at supporting healthy workplaces and institutions, based on rigorous scientific research methodologies and evidence;
– To promote and contribute extensively to the development of appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes that are supportive of and consistent with healthy living and lifestyles among employees and managers in workplaces.
Wellness must remain at the centre of all debates on workplace productivity and competitiveness. In fact, wellness at the individual and workplace levels is highly correlated with wellness at the national level which, in turn, leads to higher levels of economic growth and development for any country. It is the most basic ingredient and driver of growth at any level. Currently, there are plans to establish a National Committee for Wellness in Barbados to provide the necessary oversight and guidance for the implementation effort – this was proposed in the Policy document in a separate chapter when I conceptualised the governance framework behind its implementation.
The next step is to execute a major national awareness and educational programme to effectively promote this Policy and the main tenets of wellness to the general population. I have already started conversations and oral presentations on the subject in the OECS, recently in Antigua and Barbuda, to provide education on the need to adopt such a policy in those territories. Anyone can access via this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xmPzUyRYwqv7V0qHH7OefQS9AyxI8_vL. Or email: [email protected]