By Anita Ginsburg
In the workplace, wellness programs are often linked to less absenteeism, increased productivity, and reduced costs for long-term health care. Regardless of whether you have all the necessary resources to incorporate a wellness program into your organization, there are a number of things you can still do in order to show how much you value the overall health of your employees. Here are some clever ways to bring a greater sense of well-being in the workplace:
Emphasize the Importance of Healthy Living
Break-time seminars or brown bag luncheons are both great opportunities for teaching your employees about good nutrition and healthy eating habits. Recruit keynote speakers to hold sessions on preparing healthy meals, managing stress, or how to stay healthy while on vacation. If possible, consider hiring aerobics, tai chi, or yoga instructors to talk to your employees during lunchtime about the benefits of each program.
Encourage Regular Exercise
If your budget can handle it, consider creating a workout space for your employees along with providing locker rooms and showering facilities for those who want to get in a good workout over lunch. If the structural changes are too much, consider implementing a lunchtime walk club and offer rewarding incentives for anyone who participates. You can also provide partial memberships or discounts at a local exercise club or gym. Also, encourage all employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Suggest Behavioral Resources
Integrating a few healthy activities around the workplace may not be enough for some employees to permanently make changes. In such cases, disease management or coaching programs may be a better way to go for them. These special programs connect employees with face-to-face, phone-based, or online health professionals who can help them through difficult behavior changes. Some programs you could offer include stress management programs as well as weight loss or tobacco cessation in order to empower them to make noticeable, long-lasting changes to improve their health.
Support Preventative Health Care
Offer vaccinations in the workplace during the flu season. Promoting preventative care will make a huge impact in terms of good all-around health, which means fewer employees missing work due to the flu or a cold. Offering on-site flu shots is an excellent way to ensure that your employees have a greater chance of remaining healthy throughout the flu season and all year long. If your health coverage doesn’t include the costs of vaccinations, consider reimbursing your employees.
Be Aware of Stress and Mental Health
Both unmanaged physical and mental stress are directly linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and insomnia. In the workplace, these issues can easily result in job dissatisfaction and inefficiency as well as high absenteeism due to a number of related health issues. Consider providing an employee assistance program for anyone experiencing dire financial problems, symptoms of depression and anxiety, or excess stress. Encourage your employees to take small but significant steps in order to diminish stress, like going for a walk, stepping outside for a bit of fresh air, or chatting with a special friend.
Offer Healthy Snack Options
While at work, it’s essential for employees to avoid hunger in order to fully concentrate at the various tasks at hand. Therefore, offer them nutritious snack options or meals that will help support their overall work performance. Find a good vending machine service that includes healthy snacks. Also, consider replacing unhealthy sodas with fresh juice, milk, or filtered water, and stocking the break-room snack machines with healthier options like dried fruits and nuts instead of sugar-laden foods like doughnuts and chips.
If any of these healthy ideas sound appealing and doable to you, step up and integrate a number of wellness programs into your office or workplace. The primary tenets of any good wellness program in the workplace are education, awareness, and behavior modification. Whichever wellness programs you choose to incorporate, it will ultimately benefit the overall health of your employees as well as your bottom line.
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about business, finance, education and home. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2004. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.