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Health and wellness in the workplace

By Higginbotham on December 08 , 2020

Yoga

While there are many enticing reasons to stay at a job – competitive salary, opportunity for growth and smart co-workers – the most commonly-cited reason for remaining at a job is a positive and dynamic work environment. An uplifting work environment is one of the largest determining factors in employee retention, and for a good reason. If employees feel valued and known, they will be more productive, proactive and positive. 

An employee wellness program demonstrates that your company is concerned for their health and well-being. Wellness programs have drastic implications on the mental health of employees and overall company culture. Some of the benefits of workplace wellness programs are:

  • Help attracting top talent
  • Increase employee engagement in work and life
  • Reduce the likelihood of employees getting sick and developing health risks
  • Improve productivity
  • Decrease absenteeism 
  • Increase employee retention rates 
  • Create a dynamic work culture
  • Boost company morale

In the following sections, we’ll outline some health and wellness strategies you can use in your organization.

Why Implement Health and Wellness Programs?

The Washington Post recently reported on a study that surveyed 17,000 American employees about their level of job satisfaction. The results: 71 percent of those surveyed said they are looking for a new job. 

While their reasons for dissatisfaction varied, the majority reported that their jobs were overly stressful and taking a significant toll on their mental and emotional health. Some even admitted to regularly drinking and crying due to their stressful work environment.  With this surge in unhappy employees, companies must start responding — and many have. 

There’s been a rising trend in the workforce of implementing employee wellness programs and wellness in the workplace initiatives to help increase employee retention and fulfillment. Whether you’re an unhappy employee looking for reasons to stay at your job or a CEO wondering how to retain those employees, here are some ways to increase workplace wellness and keep your employees eager to come into work every day. 

What is Wellness?

While the term “wellness” has a variety of definitions and implications, it’s essentially the process of acknowledging and strengthening your mental, physical and emotional well-being. 

Wellness doesn’t just mean being free from disease or illness, but making intentional choices toward a healthier and happier lifestyle through engaging all facets of your mind and energy. There are many moving parts influencing someone’s overall wellness, including social life, finances, community involvement and overall sense of purpose. Some of the tenets of achieving holistic wellness include striving for a more balanced life, self-awareness, self-care and positive attitude.

Health and Wellness Tips

While improving your health and wellness is a lifelong process, here are some wellness tips you can pencil into your everyday life: 

  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Be active every day, even if it’s just a quick walk
  • Listen to feel-good music while getting ready in the morning
  • Complete at least one thing on your to-do list
  • Take time to reflect in a journal 
  • Find time every day to still your mind and sit in silence 

What is Workplace Wellness?

Like general wellness, wellness in the workplace centers around implementing programs or activities that support and encourage healthy behavior among your employees. This can manifest in various ways depending on the company, with examples ranging from conducting a workplace assessment on mental and physical health, organizing fun-runs, offering healthy snacks at work and providing on-site medical care, to name a few. 

Companies that implement wellness programs for their employees not only demonstrate that they care about them as individuals, but come to an understanding that happier employees result in higher productivity and people who are more likely to stay at their jobs. 

Employee and Workplace Wellness Ideas 

There are unlimited ways to implement wellness programs at work, whether on a large or small scale. It’s essential to consider the company and work culture when determining which activities to introduce. 

That said, one stress management tip that works across the board is investing in an office wellness room. Having a wellness room at work or a meditation room enables every employee to rest and recharge briefly. A relaxation room can take many forms. It could involve designing a room with couches and beds where employees can take power naps. Other types of relaxation could mean having massage therapists in the office, outdoor green or garden space or even an area where soothing music is playing on a loop. 

Whether your company has money to spare, or none at all, creating these relaxation rooms for employees is a worthwhile investment. Designing a space in the workplace to detox and refocus can do wonders for your employees' mental and physical health.  

Other workplace wellness ideas include:

  • Standing desks: Enabling employees to stand allows them to improve their posture and stretch their legs.

  • Nutritional counseling: Having a day or week designated to bringing in health professionals, like registered dietitians, will give employees valuable one-on-one time to discuss their health goals.

  • Monthly health challenges: Activities could encourage employees to go without added sugar for a week, only eat healthy snacks at work or participate in a company-wide 5K.

  • Dog-friendly office policy: Dogs are known to improve individuals' mental health and encourage employees to walk around the office and be active.

  • Gym/yoga area in the officeLike office relaxation rooms, designating space in the office with yoga mats, workout balls or weights allows workers to fit in a power workout a few times a week.

  • Walking meetingsWalk and talk meetings help encourage workers to stand up from their desks and get work and exercise done simultaneously.

  • Healthy snacks: This is an easy way to improve the wellness of employees. Stock the kitchen with free veggies and fruits, and stock healthy snacks in the vending machines.

  • Stress assessmentOffer company-wide health and stress assessments to survey the mental health of employees and construct a plan to address their wellness needs.

  • Offer discounts for gym membershipsIf your office doesn’t have space or money for an office gym, incentivize employees to stay active by subsidizing the cost of a gym membership to a local gym.

  • Mindfulness workshopsDesignate a day or week inviting health care professionals or knowledgeable employees to teach focus groups on mindfulness and meditation tips. 

Conclusion 

Too often, companies don’t invest in sustainable and long-term wellness programs. However, the most successful companies are implementing day-to-day programs that are more likely to improve their employees' overall health. While improving the well-being of employees is a great start, a long-term commitment to a health and wellness program can also help strengthen company values, increase teamwork, foster employee recognition and improve engagement. 

Taking time to evaluate your company's health and wellness will have an exponential effect on employee productivity, retention rates and overall happiness. If you’re ready to learn more about health and wellness strategies or benefits options available to your business, our employee benefit specialists are here to help.

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