The Business of Workplace Wellness
Want to reduce the number of days lost to illness among your employees? The best way to do this is to create a healthy group of employees. People in good health are happier and more productive, so there’s every reason to take the initiative in making your workforce a healthy one.
You won’t be alone. A recent survey by Inc. magazine found that 51% of small- to medium-sized growing businesses encourage employees to exercise or participate in a company wellness programme of some sort. These range across offerings such as encouraging healthy eating, keep fit classes, smoking cessation, workplace safety training, designing ergonomic workspaces, teaching first aid and C.P.R., offering coaching and counseling, running lunch and learns, and providing on-site healthcare.
For over a decade research has been showing the effectiveness of employee wellness programmes. Returns in cost savings have consistently been greater than the amount invested in running the programme as measured through decreased absenteeism, fewer sick days, reduced claims, lowered health and insurance costs, and improvements to employee performance and productivity.
Your programme can be customised to suit the types of work done in your business as well as to the hours people work. The programme can be based solely on the workplace, or ideally as a combination of healthy practices at work and at home. The aim is to meet the needs of both the organisation and its people so both are healthier as a result.
To get started there are some excellent resources available for free and some simple programmes that are easily initiated:
- You can source well produced health education materials from not-for-profit health agencies
- Incorporate a five minute stretching session into every meeting that lasts more than one hour
- Encourage employees and their family members to have regular physical and dental check ups
- Provide nutritional information on how to read food labels. Look for free booklets from not-for-profit health based associations or government bodies.
- Arrange lunchtime seminars on health topics such as stress management, good nutrition and back care
There are also many low cost initiatives you can implement to achieve even greater success with your programme:
- Introduce a ‘smoke free’ work environment and offer counseling to those smokers finding it difficult to give up the habit
- Replace coffee and tea with fresh fruit juices in meetings
- Provide fruit in the lunchroom instead of cookies and cakes
- Provide flu shots or time off to get one
- Provide all employees with a free blood pressure check
- Put scales and weight charts in the restrooms
- For birthday celebrations in the office provide healthy snack food instead of sugar rich cakes
- Arrange an hour’s Q&A session with a qualified nutrition expert
- Arrange a visit from a fitness specialist who can create home-based exercise programmes for individual employees
Workplace health promotion will enable your team members to gain the added support of their colleagues in sticking with health improving activities. It can be simple and easy to implement, and delivers the benefits of greater productivity along with a reduction in the considerable costs associated with employee ill health.
SOURCE NOTE: RAN One
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