Maxwell Stephens

Are you well? – FM insights from Elliott Chase

wellness in facilities management

Wellness has quite quickly gone from being something one asks about almost automatically (and often with little interest in the answer) to a key concept in current management thinking.

The shift lies in that –ness on the end of the word. That takes it from ‘I am well’ to ‘I am living an active process of being aware and making choices about the state I am in’. This is about more than health (which is about your physical and mental state) and more than wellbeing (which is about your experience of your health, happiness, comfort etc). Wellness is a bigger concept that takes in health and wellbeing, and more. Seven components have been identified: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical. So, bigger and quite important, too.

Without much stretching of the concept, we could argue that in addition to individuals the idea of wellness applies equally to organisations. A business, for example, that is aware of and makes appropriate choices about the conditions, support and opportunities it offers to its people would likely be ranked on the positive side of a wellness scale. It could be expected to see that reflected in the wellness perceptions of its employees, measurable in terms of recruitment and retention rates, absenteeism, motivation, productivity and ultimately its reputation as a business/employer. And we can all think of examples of the opposite: organisations that take no interest (or no real interest) in wellness issues and wind up paying a price in one way or another.

Taking this one step further, an organisational commitment to wellness aligns comfortably with two of the bigger-picture concepts that seem set to become increasingly important in our social/economic future: social value (for example, good citizenship in the local community) and responsible business (often framed in terms of a commitment to sustainable development goals). These are all part of a constellation of values sitting on a push-pull framework – with much of both the push and the pull for action coming from a variety of factors including big, broad-based issues such as climate crisis and demographic change, and more ‘local’ conditions such as post-Carillion government decision-making around procurement.

I wouldn’t like to press any of this too far: I don’t think we’re on the brink of a paradigm shift in political and economic structures. But there are undeniably some significant changes in action and thinking underway. And that raises the question – where is FM in this? FM, which is deeply connected to everything from how people experience their work environments to how organisations impact our shared physical environment – what is FM doing to ensure it and all of the people, practices and policies that it can influence are on the right side of this challenge? How can FM do things better? What more should it be doing?

These are big issues and big questions – and important ones, too. Happily, help is coming in breaking them down, understanding the ways to move forward, and gaining insights into what others are thinking and doing – in the form of February’s Workplace Futures conference, where the theme for this year is wellness and FM’s role in that. The programme includes a strong mix of trend analysis, insights and advice from experts, first-hand frontline experience of needs and expectations, and case studies of success.

This is a great opportunity to listen, learn, discuss and share information about subjects that are important to facilities management now and that are already shaping its future. Full details are here – join us for what will definitely be a useful and engaging day!


Elliott Chase
Managing Editor, i-FM