Work is usually not like a day at the beach, but when you offer your employees opportunities for improved wellness, you increase the chance of having a productive company. The CDC recently identified health programs as a vital piece of a healthy lifestyle due to the increase in people who spend most of their day sitting at a desk. This sedentary work style is becoming increasingly relevant since the average workweek is presently at around 47 hours, with one in five full-time workers clocking 60 hours or more per week.

When you also take into consideration that Millennials, who value work-life balance, will make up around 50% of the workforce in the next five years, wellness programs may be that extra value added to your company to draw this emerging workforce and retain them.
With this new generation of workers, your business may benefit from an intentional wellness program that expands beyond exercise programs and healthy eating programs. Many companies are already seeing the benefits of incorporating workplace wellness into the corporate culture by considering ways to recharge and re-energize employees throughout the day.

A study by John Trougakos, an associate professor of management at the University of Toronto, found that job-related stress is an alarming trend that plagues workers and costs companies hundreds of billions of dollars each year. He concluded that the benefits of regular breaks include reduced costs, improved employee effectiveness, and increased energy to complete tasks, especially in the afternoon when energy levels are low.

The challenge with any wellness program is to make the activities and incentives relevant to the employees and to show employees that you value their welfare. Employees recognize your commitment to wellness when words match actions. Simply saying you value wellness does not show your employees that you value wellness. You can show your employees that you are willing to invest in wellness with company time and with company resources to maintain the health and welfare of your people.

Here are a few suggestions for cultivating workplace wellness within the work day. Find activities that work for your employees and the company. If one action doesn’t work, then try another. Respect that not all employees will want the same type of wellness incentives, but also to not put the business at risk with activities that don’t work. There is a balance between what the company gives and how the employees respond. Find a balance that works for you.

1. Incentivize your program. Add additional benefits when employees complete certain tasks. For example, if employees go in for an annual check-up they receive additional funding of their health care.

2. Offer time during the work day to volunteer. Volunteering gives your employees a way to give back to the community and recharge their batteries away from the regular workday. You can either choose a service that everyone can participate in together or offer a variety of options, or even let them go out on their own to find volunteer experiences.

3. Invite experts to come in at lunch or for an hour or two in the afternoon to offer advice or services. You might ask a personal trainer to help set up training plans, or an athletic trainer who answers questions and looks at running strides for anyone who wants to take up running or walking as an activity. Request a massage therapist be available for employees to utilize during work hours for a quick 15-minute massage. Other activities might include healthy cooking tips from a chef who comes in to teach about cooking a meal and then offers it to the employees for an afternoon snack. Or, you could have a decorator show employees how to make a fruit decoration and have the decorations available for an afternoon snack. There are many options available depending on the interests of your employees.

4. Incorporate healthy snacks into meetings and break rooms. Challenge individuals to find a healthy snack and share information about food in the break room or through a weekly e-mail. Have a monthly challenge to see who can bring in the tastiest alternative snack.

5. Have a rest room in your building with chairs and lights where employees can come sit to rest or work in a place that is away from the hustle of their regular day.

6. Change the feel of your office. Lighting and colour complain roll in the atmosphere and well-being of your employees. Use softer tone lights instead of fluorescent lights and think of alternative colours that give the office a more relaxing feel. Asked the question, “How can this place make you feel more comfortable to work?”

7. Send an e-mail to your employees thanking them for their work, or identifying something they did that has been particularly beneficial to the company. Sometimes a small gesture goes a long way toward an employee’s sense of internal wellness.

Think about wellness as a process that more thoroughly engages and supports your staff so that they can do the best possible work. The welfare of your employees translates to the health of your business. You increase the success of your company when you take just a little time to walk along the shore.

By Dr Lynette Reed, as published on 31st March in Business 2 Community

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