The office or job site might be the last place you think about wellness, but in reality, it should be one of the first! A good wellness program makes for happier and healthier employees, and that can translate directly to a company’s bottom line. Let’s dive into what goes into a good wellness program and look at some tips you can implement right now.
Why Wellness Matters in the Workplace
Before we dive into how to enhance wellness in your organization, let’s talk about the why. There are numerous reasons why wellness in the work environment is vital, from both the company’s and employee’s perspective.
For employers, investing in a wellness program shows your employees that you care about their health and wellbeing. If you’re looking for ways to boost morale, this is a great start! Happier employees tend to be more engaged and willing to give their best at work. Your employees won’t just be happier, though: they’ll also be healthier. That can mean fewer sick days, greater productivity, and reduced costs for your organization.
If you’re an employee of a company offering a wellness program, take advantage of it! It’s not just about being more productive at work; getting in shape and focusing on your physical and mental health means you can live your life to the fullest outside the office, too. You’ll be less stressed, less tired, and you’ll just feel better. So, when the weekend rolls around, you’ll be able to get the most out of your time off.
Here are some ideas for wellness initiatives to offer or take advantage of:
Keeping stress under control is important for both productivity and health. Some common ways a corporate wellness program can help with stress management include:
- Meditation and yoga. Both of these practices are excellent for managing stress, and they also carry some fantastic side benefits; meditation can increase your mood and focus, while yoga is a great exercise in its own right that can give you greater flexibility and strength.
- Teaching effective time management and planning skills. It’s very easy to spend too much time on the wrong things and end up frantically trying to catch up to meet a deadline. Companies can provide training or even direct coaching on productivity and time management to help employees work smarter and get more done.
- Having outdoor space for walking. Even a small walking path can give employees a chance to get some fresh air, clear their heads, and stretch their muscles. Taking a quick walk is a great way to relieve some stress and refocus.
It’s no big secret: employees, especially younger generations, are much less interested in spending endless hours at the office than they used to be. Encouraging employees to take vacations and personal days, and try to minimize the amount of time spent working on the weekends. Effective time management is part of this; being able to get things done before quitting time means less to worry about after you leave.
Healthy Habits in the Workplace
A company’s wellness program is more likely to be successful if it encourages healthy habits while employees are at work, rather than just outside business hours. Some important habits to consider are:
- Taking regular breaks to stand up and stretch. This is especially important if you work at a desk. Sitting for too long at a time, especially if you tend to hunch, can be terrible for your back and shoulders, leading to pain and potentially even long-term issues. Standing and stretching for a few minutes every hour or so can help alleviate this problem. Encourage employees to take these breaks. They can lead to significant productivity gains over the course of a day!
- Offering standing desks. Even if you’re in a comfortable chair with excellent posture, sitting too much can lead to health problems. Sitting too long has been linked with increased risks for cancer, diabetes, and heart problems. A standing desk can help reduce these risks. A desk that converts from sitting to standing is even better. Employers should offer each employee the option of standing or convertible desks. If workers prefer to sit, an ergonomic chair may be another alternative.
- Staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is important for your overall health. Many people are mildly dehydrated and don’t even realize it! This can lead to a general feeling of fatigue. The general recommendation is eight, eight-ounce glasses a day, or about two liters. Workplaces should provide easy ways for employees to refill water bottles. Providing water bottles and stations for employees to refill them can be a great start. Some dispensers will even track the amount of water dispensed to encourage continued use. It’s also good for the environment!
- Encouraging exercise. Either before work, after work or during lunch. This might mean providing a longer lunch break for employees, but that in itself is likely to pay dividends. Regular exercise has a tremendous number of benefits, both physically and mentally, and it’s a vital part of a healthy and happy lifestyle. If businesses can’t provide a physical space for exercise, they can also consider partnering with local gyms to offer discounts to employees.
Many companies find it beneficial to consult with wellness experts to design and implement a comprehensive plan. The return on investment for a customized corporate wellness program can be massive, both in productivity increases and employee retention.
The best thing about a comprehensive health and wellness program is that all these little practices come together to produce something much bigger than the sum of its parts. The end result is a happier, healthier workforce and a happier, healthier company.
Grant is a fitness coach and the founder of Team G-Fit.