How to Foster Wellness in the Workplace
Employees who are physically active have lower healthcare costs, require less sick leave, and are more productive at work, according to a report prepared by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There is no “one size fits all” program, but there are several ways to foster wellness for employees. It starts with a positive company culture, followed by the physical space and environment, and then reinforcing healthy habits and lifestyles.
Why Company Culture is Important
Incorporating health and wellness into the existing company culture is essential for employee engagement. Shared values, ethics, and expectations between workers foster a sense of community and cohesiveness in the workplace. When health and wellness are a part of that culture, both employees and employers win; while employees improve healthy behaviors and reduce their risks for illness, employers receive an average $3.27 ROI on reduced healthcare costs.
Create Well Designed Workplaces
Whether in the office, school, or at work, the average person spends 12 hours per day sitting. Inactivity is the 4th leading cause of mortality in the U.S, so it’s important employers maintain well designed workplaces that force employees to be active. Customized workspaces for every employee can help to optimize health in the office and may include the following:
- Standing Desks - If sitting for several hours is the main culprit, try including standing desks at the office. Standing desks keep employees on their toes. Having a few of these available can allow employees to take their work from sitting to standing when needed.
- Exercise balls - They’re colorful, bouncy, and the perfect replacement for the standard office chair. On an exercise ball, you’re forced to balance yourself by planting your feet firmly on the floor and engaging your core. Having a ball instead of a chair also improves posture and alignment.
- Ergonomic Workstations - It’s important to be able to adjust your chair, desk, and computer to a position that allows you to work comfortably. Lighting, temperature, and humidity are also ergonomic essentials.
Establishing Wellness Programs
It’s necessary to begin with small, achievable steps. If a wellness program is new to the company and employees aren’t used to being all that active, they need to be encouraged. Having a variety of activities available to employees can help them to pick activities based on their fitness level. For example, you can have employees choose to sign up for hikes, walks, yoga, or a gym class.
Many offices also incorporate friendly fitness competitions to motivate employees. For example, the group that loses the most weight combined might win two extra vacation days. Or the team that burns the most calories in one workout session gets treated to a healthy lunch. Motivation goals work because they take advantage of the emotional aspect of personal health.