How To Achieve Wellness At Work
Sitting at a desk all day is not all it's cracked up to be
When I was young and worked jobs that require physical labor, I used to dream of the day I would be able to sit back at my desk instead. I felt like all I needed was a good sit down job and I would be happy.
I do love my job however, sitting down all day is not as fun as I imagined. Now a days I long for those physical labor jobs!
Office jobs are often stressful, but even if you are lucky like me and work in a stress free environment there are still health dangers you are facing. Aside from sitting all day, I personally have an issue with meals. I am so busy taking care of my children that I rarely have time to pack a healthy lunch for myself before I come to work. So that leaves me with snacks and fast food.
The unhealthy diet combined with the lack of exercise is so bad that some days I can almost feel the extra weight sticking to me.
I work alone most of the time as I am usually the only one who is in the office full time. So I really have to take it upon myself to make sure I am living healthy at work. For my situation, I resort to phone apps for my support and encouragement. I really like Noom right now for this.
For others who have a bigger group of co-workers, there are ways that you yourself can achieve a healthy work environment as well as approaches your employer can take for all the employees.
The most health conscious company I ever worked for
Some years ago I had the opportunity to work for a huge company that put a lot of focus on employee wellness. Not only was there a gym in the building, there were also doctors, counselors and even massage therapists. There was relaxing art all over the building and each department had their own “quiet room” which was a darkened room that contained separate areas with recliners so employees could use their break time relaxing in comfort and peacefulness.
The company was constantly providing employees with information to help them quit smoking, they offered flu shots each year, and had their own ergonomics department. If anybody felt uncomfortable at their desk someone would come and provide you with better lighting, a new more comfortable chair, a footrest, anything you needed to make your workspace more comfortable.
With all of this extra stuff, you would think that medical benefits might cost extra. I actually got money back from my insurance because the company offered each employee a certain amount of money to put towards their insurance and since I only had to pay for myself, I had about $5 left each week that ended up being extra money put into my paycheck.
Workplace wellness programs benefit employees as well as employers.
Wellness programs not only reduce company health care costs but also reduce the cost of health insurance. Employees that feel they are being taken care of by the company, feel a loyalty towards the company, this not only cuts down on the turnover rates but also increases productivity. Also, having healthy employees will increase the quality and amount of work being done. Sick leave and absences are reduced significantly when employers provide wellness programs for their employees, and overall the employees are generally much happier when they feel better.
A study released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina stated that companies willing to make small investments in wellness initiatives such as paid time off for doctor’s visits and health screenings in the workplace see long-term results. According to this study, companies that offer wellness program see 25 to 30 percent decrease in medical costs and absenteeism in about 3 to 4 years.
It's the little things that count
Now not all companies have to go above and beyond to provide wellness programs for their employees. Even just giving employees the opportunity to take a walk outside to get some exercise and some peace of mind can be helpful.
After taking a look at safety and personal injuries in 1995, UPS found that their most common issues dealt with back, shoulder and knee injuries. In response to this information, UPS established safety committees at 2,900 of their facilities across the country. The committees are run by employees at each location who organize activities and provide monthly health topics such as “You Can Control Your Blood Pressure”. Since beginning this program, UPS has seen a decrease in absences, an increase in productivity and morale, and a 60% reduction in on-the-job injuries.
What can you do?
If you are an employer looking for a cheap way to encourage wellness at your business, there are several things you can do now!
Create a fitness challenge. More and more companies are starting fitness challenges for their employees to participate in. One way to accomplish this is to set a time limit, six months for instance. Employees who want to participate will weigh in on the first and the last day of the challenge. Whoever loses the most weight at the end of the time period wins!
What does the winner get? Well, that is up to the employer and/or the employees. Either the employer can put up a prize, or charge each employee a set amount to enter the contest and reward the winner with all of the entry fees. Perhaps come up with a combination of the two. A prize plus cash, or match the cash raised.
Another great prize would be a paid day off!
Once I won a sales contest at a former place of employment were I was allowed to have first pick of vacation time. Any little thing that your employees desire is a great incentive, and competition is inspiring as wella s motivating!
Encourage exercise. My current employer is planning on bringing cardio equipment into our office so we can work out when things are slow. Although this might not work for every workplace environment, it is a great thing to consider, especially for a smaller company. Have an extra room? Why not bring in some exercise equipment? Ask employees to donate items. Chances are, most people have some sort of exercise equipment at home that is not getting used.
Have some extra outdoor space? Get a basketball hoop and a ball, or designate a walking area. If the employees have some place to go and stretch their legs, they are likely to do so. I for one, need to get up and walk around every couple hours. This also gives you a chance to have walking meetings. If you don't have to sit at a conference table, don't! People tend to be more productive and creative when their blood is flowing. I for one come up with my best ideas while running, because I hate running and want to think about anything other than what I am doing!
Why not try Health Food Fridays? Offices love to have pot luck lunches, so why not make your next potluck a healthy food potluck? This encourages your team to try different healthy alternatives and if they like what they try, it could encourage regular healthy eating habits!
Reduce Stress! Even the most stress free jobs (like mine) get stressful sometimes and wellness isn't only about diet and fitness. Find out what helps your employees deal with stress and try bring aspects of their responses into the workplace.
The best thing to do is listen to your employees, find out what they need and do your best to bring this to the office.
Sue Stock. (21 October). Study says wellness programs pay off: Blue Cross: Measures reduce employers' costs. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Dateline database. (Document ID: 1579663581).
Sarah Bloom. (2008). Employee Wellness Programs. Professional Safety, 53(8), 41-42. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1599441841).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Cristina Cakes