Integrating Workplace Wellness as part Company Culture

Employers are embracing workplace wellness programs because of their proven ability to drive down costs and increase profitability. The value of workplace wellness has been demonstrated to go well beyond the obvious benefit of lower health insurance premiums. The most meaningful benefits achieved by investing in workplace wellness include reduced absenteeism, greater employee engagement, increased productivity, improved employee retention, and increased employee satisfaction and morale. One study shows that happier employees can be up to 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. [1] All of these benefits of workplace wellness can add up to a competitive advantage and long-term business success.

When approaching workplace wellness, many companies focus on disease management programs that address the more obvious causes of poor employee wellness: smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. It is no question that these issues have to be addressed as a part of striving for a healthier workforce, however it’s more important to take a look at the entire workplace culture and whether it’s supporting the health of employees.

Creating a culture of health and wellness is about much more than healthy eating options and fitness challenges. It’s about ensuring that health and wellness is a priority and that decisions are made with employee wellbeing in mind. The first thing organisations can do to start the culture shift is to make sure that health and wellness are part of their corporate values and that those values are clearly defined and expressed. Corporate values are what guide decision making and will dictate everything from the number of flex days employees are given each year to the type of ergonomic workstations that are available.

Creating a wellness culture is a conscious, long-term commitment, but there are a number of things a company can do in working towards the creation of a culture of wellness:

Encourage movement.

Physical activity is essential for employees and you should find ways to get them moving throughout their day. Boosting physical activity at work is proven to have a positive effect on employee emotional wellbeing and it increases alertness, concentration and serves as a powerful energy boost. [2] Walking meetings, standing desks, or in-person meetings can all help keep employees active.

Offer healthy choices.

Meals that are company catered should include fresh, healthy options. If you have vending machines, seek out a provider that can provide healthy options.

Make connections.

Sometimes the social and emotional part of wellness gets forgotten. Companies can help employees make social connections by holding events like potluck lunches, team sports, or even just an informal morning coffee break. Social connections are essential for employee health. So much so that a lack of social connection is twice as dangerous a health factor as smoking. [3]

Provide resources.

Most employees understand why wellness is important, but they may not know where to start to reach their wellness goals. Company curated resources covering different aspects of wellness can make help more accessible for employees.

Be flexible.

If your business can accommodate flex time or flexible working arrangements it can help encourage work/life balance. Flexible schedules can help decrease the workplace stress that is responsible for lost productivity and absenteeism and the associated high costs. [4] A culture of wellness doesn’t demand long hours that will burn employees out, it supports and respects that employees have personal lives, provides them with workloads that are manageable, and gives them time to recharge.

A company wellness philosophy that only focuses on disease management and reducing health care costs is missing a huge opportunity to cultivate happier and more productive employees. Long-term and sustainable wellness results are a product of creating a culture that prioritises the health and happiness of employees.

For more information on how to Integrate Workplace Wellness into you Company Culture and why it is important to do so check out our webinar from the 27th of April.

[1] http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-4-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf

[2] https://www.fitz.cam.ac.uk/news/happiness-and-physical-activity

[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/wellness-at-work-the-promise-and-pitfalls

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2015/01/26/workplace-stress-responsible-for-up-to-190-billion-in-annual-u-s-heathcare-costs/#10a1c659235a

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