Wellness programs are linked to increased productivity, a reduction of long-term health care costs and less absenteeism. In fact, it has been shown that a 28% reduction in sick leave, 26% lower heath costs and 30% lower compensation and disability costs are directly linked to wellness programs in Canada.
The facts are undeniable, and the good news is that even if you feel your organization does not have the financial or staffing resources to implement a wellness program, there are many small steps you can take to promote wellness at work that do not include elaborate or costly investments. I have outlined below five ways to help you bring your company closer to wellness.
- Encourage Exercise.
Implement and promote a lunch hour walking club and offer incentives for employees who participate. Encourage the entire office to use the stairs or suggest a “bike to work” week. You also might offer discounts or partially subsidize memberships to a local gym
- Highlight Education.
Arrange short-term break-time seminars or lunch and learns to help employees learn more about healthy habits. Depending on interest, you can recruit speakers to discuss diabetes prevention or chiropractic tips, or a session on cooking healthy meals, staying healthy while travelling, or quick stress management skills. Arranging for an RMT to offer low-cost 10 minute massages to staff over the course of an afternoon can reduce stress and encourage future sessions to maintain health.
- Provide Food Options.
Everyone knows when you’re hard at work it’s so easy to quickly grab a bite from what’s at hand. Offer your employee’s access to healthy meal and snack options that help fuel their performance and also meet their nutritional needs. You might consider stocking your lunchroom with fresh fruit once a week, or make sure the office cafeteria has plenty of healthy meal options.
- Manage Stress.
Unmanaged stress in the workplace can lead to inefficiency, job dissatisfaction, and absence from work for related health conditions. Encourage employees to take simple steps to reduce stress, like taking a break to get outside for a breath of fresh air. You might want to talk to your employee assistance program about workshops to support your employees who have financial troubles, excess stress, or are exhibiting symptoms of depression.
- Promote Resiliency.
Although there are always challenges in the workplace, be mindful that when your employees are asked to take on an increased workload, work extra hours, and a pay increase cannot be offered, it can lead to feelings of depression and powerlessness. By creating a resilience program, you can encourage and support your employees to be mentally prepared for whatever comes their way and develop ways to bounce back. At work, as in life, there will always be challenges, but resilience programs will not only help them survive, but thrive in the workplace.
Workplace wellness programs are focused on awareness, education, and behavioural change. Try just one of these to start. If it’s successful, try another. If, after a few trials, a wellness program seems right for your company, consider a comprehensive program. Research the options, and look at resources available to you. You might want to consider hiring an EAP company to run a wellness program for you. Whatever you choose, know that taking even a small step in the wellness direction can benefit your employees, your productivity, and your bottom line.
What kinds of small wellness initiatives are being implemented at your workplace? Do you think your employer is doing enough for workplace wellness in your organization? What kind of results are you seeing as a result of your program?