Promoting Wellness: How to Make the Workplace Healthy Once and for All

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Know why the health of your employees matters most and a few tips for the organizations to help their employees stay fit and productive.

Companies, both big and small, are always looking for ways to avoid additional costs and the last thing they want is to pay a hefty price for is overweight, obese and physically inactive employees in the form of insurance covers and workers’ compensation.

All of these are often accompanied by a decline in employee productivity, which can spell doom for an organization.

It is a known fact that unfit employees tend to be less productive and need more medical care and sick days off. According to findings by Gallup, “Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually.”

Employees spend most of their working hours performing various job-related tasks. Because of this, they’re hardly able to keep up with healthy eating habits or exercise enough to stay in good shape.

After all, it is extremely difficult to incorporate five to nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and 30 minutes of exercise into their workday.

Keeping this in mind, mentioned ahead are a few tips that organizations can implement to help their employees stay fit and productive:

Related Article: De-stress the Workplace: 5 Ways to Foster Employee Well-being

1. Provide Healthy Meals

Companies will do well by providing their employees with healthy meals in the cafeteria at affordable rates. These meals should be nutritious and, if possible, all nutrition-related information should be displayed prominently or made easily accessible to employees.

If you serve packaged meals in your cafeteria, ensure that they meet the average nutritional requirements as well. They can be made available through vending machines. Banning unhealthy items such as doughnuts and coffee or sodas at the workplace should work in your favor.

If providing meals isn’t plausible, encourage your employees to bring fresh canned and dried fruits, natural fruits and/or vegetable juices, nuts, low-calorie snacks, fresh salads, and non-fat milk and/or yogurt from home.

2. Reward Healthy Choices

In some areas, tax laws can be used by organizations to reward employees who make healthier food choices. Employers can provide healthy meals on a pre-tax basis and collect for it through salary cuts.

Further, investing in wellness programs also brings businesses lowered expenses in terms of health care costs and lower absenteeism. This can be great for small businesses in particular. Whatever be the initiative, from facilitating weight loss, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, to sleeping better, it makes sense for companies to financially reward healthy choices made by the employees in their endeavor to make the most of the wellness program.

The financial rewards need not be very high in monetary value, but enough to motivate employees to stick to their mission.

3. Partner With Healthy Eateries

Businesses can tie up/partner with local restaurants for providing healthy and low-cost meals to their employees. Employees participating in the wellness program can be provided with food passes to such restaurants, which allow them to avail discounts (only) on nutritive meals.

Related Article:The Importance of Self-Care for Productivity in an Office Environment

4. Adjust Schedules and Breaks

Consider allowing employees to tweak their morning or evening schedule to fit in a few minutes for physical activity. Permit them to start and end their work day earlier to be able to access special physical-fitness classes, if required. Alternatively, make lunch breaks long enough to allow them time to eat as well as squeeze in some amount of light physical activity.

5. Give Them Sufficient Breaks

One of the biggest factors that affect most employees’ heath negatively is excessive stress. With the number of working hours spiraling out of control nowadays, it is easy for employees to fall prey to physical and mental stress, which manifest themselves in the form of reduced productivity. This is where the importance of healthy work-life balance comes into the picture.

Make it a point to give your employees their weekends off, i.e. refrain from making official phone calls, and/or sending them work-related texts or emails. In urgent matters, call or text them as that is preferred over email.

6. Organize Health Screenings

Once every year, invite local health care service providers to the workplace for screening employees. This will make accessing healthcare convenient for employees, cut down health-related costs in the future, and will amply establish that you really mean to enhance employee health and wellness.

If you’re an organization that’s ready to invest in their employees’ health, fitness and safety, but wondering how you stand to gain from it, then here are a few answers:

  • Healthy workers are more productive, focus better at work and can deliver results that are higher in quality.
  • Healthy workers tend to work better in teams. They are also more engaged in their job, enjoy doing their work, and look for ways to excel at it.
  • Companies with healthy employees attract more healthy employees and witness lower retention. They also experience improved productivity, enjoy an enhanced corporate image and a lower rate of absenteeism.
  • Healthy workers are safe workers. Having healthy workers reduces the chances of workplace accidents. Because they are fit, they are more alert, aware, and have a higher resilience to illnesses.
  • Having healthy employees decreases the company’s healthcare costs to a great extent.

How About Having a Wellness Program for Your Employees?

Having a corporate wellness program in place implies more than just handing out gym memberships to your employees. It is important to take employee needs into consideration.

Remember, such programs need to make employees feel eager to participate than intimated to even give them a try. Employees should know that your wellness program is designed to actually steer them towards achieving their fitness goals, eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle.

Further, your wellness program should impart education not only to the employees, but also employers. It should not be just about looking after one’s wellbeing at work or the gym, but applying new learning to their life in general. Only this will facilitate a lifestyle change.

Related Article:6 Ways Yoga Can Improve Productivity at Work

Conclusion

An increasing number of small businesses are setting up wellness plans and programs for their employees. However, it is important that these programs are realistic and come with the necessary guidelines and instructional material for employees to follow. This way, the programs will come with accountability and be perceived as valuable and effective.

It is important that employees are involved in such programs as only that will help them stay fit and healthy. Every organization wants its employees to enjoy and feel safe in their work environment as these factors motivate them to bring their A-game to work. Encouraging employees to make health and fitness a part of their lifestyle results in a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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