8 Ways to Promote Wellness in the Workplace
May 27, 2015
Wellness programs are linked to greater productivity, less absenteeism, and a reduction of long-term health care costs. Are you doing enough to ensure the health of your workforce? Even if you don't have the resources to implement a complete wellness program, there are several things you can do that show your employees you value their health.
Promote preventive care.
Bring vaccination to the workplace for flu season. Encouraging and even funding vaccinations for employees has one of the clearest returns on investment. When your employees avoid the flu, they avoid missing out on days, if not weeks, of work. Consider offering on-site flu vaccines to employees. Or if your health insurance doesn't cover it already, consider reimbursing employees for vaccination fees.
2. Encourage exercise.
Turn your office into an active campus. If you can make changes at your facility, consider offering covered, secure bike parking for commuters. Implement and promote a lunch hour walking club and offer incentives for employees who participate. Encourage the entire office to use the stairs. And offer discounts or partially subsidize memberships to a local gym or exercise club.
Brown bag luncheons or break-time seminars are prime opportunities for helping employees learn more about healthy habits. Recruit speakers to lead sessions on cooking healthy meals, staying healthy while travelling, or quick stress management skills. If you have the space, consider bringing in yoga, tai chi, or aerobics instructors for lunchtime classes. Keep sessions entertaining but informative, and offer incentives for employees who attend.
4. Bring the doctor in.
One of the most innovative trends in workplace wellness has been that of the office doctor's office. On-site health clinics give employees the opportunity to schedule office visits for routine care without taking time off work. And they seem to be successful. A recent survey from the Center for Studying Health System Change found that on-site clinics increase productivity, reduce medical costs, and enhance a company's reputation as being a desirable place to work.
5. Invest in incentives.
Employee incentive programs offer rewards—financial or otherwise—for employees who engage in healthy behavior. A growing trend is to cover an additional percentage of the cost of health insurance premiums for employees who pass certain biometric markers – such as having a healthy body mass index, blood pressure, or blood sugar reading.
6. Hone hunger options.
Everyone knows when you're hard at work it can be easy—or necessary—to quickly grab a bite from what's at hand. Offer your employees healthy meal and snack options that help fuel their performance while also meeting their nutritional needs. Consider replacing sodas with milk, juice, or sparkling water, and stocking snack machines with nuts, dried fruit, and other healthy options. If you can take it a step further, stock lunchrooms with fresh fruit baskets once a week, and be sure the office cafeteria has plenty of healthy meal options.
7. Be mindful of mental health.
Unmanaged stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep trouble. At the workplace, it can lead to inefficiency, job dissatisfaction, and absence from work for related health conditions. Consider offering an employee assistance program for employees who have financial troubles, excess stress, or depression symptoms. And encourage employees to take simple steps to reduce stress, like taking several breaks a day to go for a walk, chat with a co-worker, or just get outside for a breath of fresh air.
8. Recommend behavioral resources.
For some employees, a few work-based activities may not be enough to make lasting change. In these cases, coaching and disease management programs may be the way to go. These programs pair employees with online, phone-based, or face-to-face health professionals who can guide them through the steps of behavior change. Consider offering tobacco cessation, weight loss, or stress management programs to help empower your employees make lasting, noticeable change.