A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker. In fact, investing in employee health and wellbeing has a number of benefits and upsides for workers as well as employers, from higher productivity to significant savings in healthcare costs. According to the Harvard Business Review, major corporations like Johnson & Johnson have reported declines in smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity over the past two decades as a result of corporate wellness programs, which in turn has translated into an almost three to one return on every dollar the company has spent on employee wellness initiatives.
The best wellness programs address more than just an employee's waist size and numbers on a scale (although those are important too). Wellness is a comprehensive initiative that weaves a healthy work life balance by incorporating physical, mental, and emotional health into the process, which can range from limiting the risk of flu outbreaks, to empowering your team with the tools they need to effectively manage and deal with stress.
The benefits of a healthy and energized workforce may be universal, but every company is different and your company's needs are unique. Conducting an informal survey is a great place to start in order to find out where your employees are in terms of personal and professional satisfaction and health. Tailoring your initiatives to employee feedback can help you launch the program successfully, maximize participation, and save company resources. Bean bag chairs may be a great asset at one company, but just create clutter and a big eyesore at another. Ask your employees what they need, and then work to deliver in order to reap the benefits in the long term.
Whether you run a small startup or a large corporation with hundreds or thousands of employees, here are a few tips to help get your corporate health and wellness program up and running.
1. Get Up, Stand Up
You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Studies have shown that even people who exercise on a regular basis are susceptible to the dangers of spending too much time in a chair. Adopting initiatives like standing desks, motion platforms, balance boards, and taking meetings out of the conference room and out into the open air can help your company offset the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. It may even help to spark that next million or billion dollar idea.
2. Incentivize, Don't Penalize
Offering your employees information on the health risks of smoking, an unhealthy diet, and a sedentary lifestyle is one thing, but when it comes to motivation a little positive reinforcement goes a long way. Consider instituting a rewards system or regular contests to get the troops excited to participate, and have a little fun in the process.
3. Make Wellness an Organic Part of Your Company Culture
If your company is in a position to offer meals and refreshments, ditch the cookies and soda for water and healthier options. Another option is to produce content that provides valuable information like easy and healthy recipes, tips on relieving stress, the ins and outs of meditation, or regular tai-chi breaks. Get creative and find what fits with your company's culture.
4. Talk About It
Once the program is up and running, the ongoing challenge will be to initiate and maintain employee engagement. The company blog, newsletter, and social media platforms are great ways to let your employees know about the program and to motivate them to get—and stay—involved for the long term.
5. Be Fluid
Trends in wellness and healthcare are always evolving, as are the needs of your workforce. Evaluate your program on a regular basis and make adjustments to reflect your employees' ongoing needs and goals.
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