Happy, healthy employees are better employees.
It’s no surprise then that according to a recent article in Fast Company, corporate wellness programs are a nearly $8B industry in the United States and $40B worldwide, with growth expectations of nearly 8% through 2021.
The definition of “corporate wellness” has expanded as employers continue to recognize the value of new, more holistic programs that incorporate emotional and behavioral well-being. Wellness programs that address both the physical and emotional well-being of employees — the mind-body connection — can provide a means of addressing overall health that is truly comprehensive.
Adopting a more comprehensive approach is better for both companies and for employees: Johnson & Johnson leaders estimate that their comprehensive wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs from 2000 to 2010, according to the Harvard Business Review. When you talk about saving your company money on health costs, the core of it lies in improving and preventing employee health issues. By understanding the mind-body connection and treating both physical and emotional health, employers can increase productivity and lower health care costs through improved health outcomes.
As we strive to increase workplace wellness, there’s no better way to do so than to empower employees to make mindful choices about their own wellness. The first step in doing so is to build mindfulness into corporate culture. One of the best ways to encourage your employees to work and live mindfully is to provide them with opportunities to practice exercises like meditation and yoga.
“Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation,” according to the mindfulness experts at Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. The health effects of mindfulness exercises are tangible; The American Journal of Cardiology published a study that found that meditation, as a daily stress-decreasing approach, could control high blood pressure and help people live longer. Meditation can also help improve focus and attention. There are several great apps out there to encourage employees to try and use meditation—one we like that’s simple and easy to use is Headspace.
Your employees’ wellness can also be improved by practicing mindfulness through yoga. Yoga can help employees reduce stress, improve fitness, and even manage chronic conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Successful companies like Clif Bar, Asana, and Google, to name a few, include in-house yoga in their corporate wellness perks. Choosing to provide mindful exercises like meditation and yoga in your company’s wellness program signals a dedication to promoting a whole-health approach to employee wellness.
But encouraging mindfulness should go beyond offering lunchtime yoga at the office. Mindfulness can come in in many different forms, the simplest of which is awareness: awareness of pain, awareness of choices, and awareness of company culture.
Starting with pain awareness is an important first step, but empowering employees to address their pain points is the key. Providing employees with the ability to make mindful choices introduces an element of trust into your office space.
San Francisco start-up Asana has taken big steps in empowering its employees to control their own wellness. Asana gives each employee $10,000 to equip his or her office with adjustable desks or any other tools to amp up their health and happiness. This places the choice in the hands of employees rather than an ergonomics department. Happy, mindful employees do better work, ultimately providing a high return on investment for companies that choose to empower their employees.
In the end, the success of any corporate wellness program comes down to company culture. Implementing changes that build mindfulness into your company’s culture will allow the benefits of your corporate wellness program to extend throughout—and beyond—the workplace.