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Workplace wellness is something we all deem vital in an ideal workplace.
But first, what is workplace wellness?
Companies of the twenty-first century are all focusing on improving the working environment for their employees. Little by little, corporate owners are finally starting to understand that the refinement of every individual’s health condition is an essential building block towards the company’s overall productivity. This is mostly done through workplace wellness programs.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),
“Workplace health programs are a coordinated and comprehensive set of health promotion and protection strategies implemented at the worksite that includes programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees.”
They have evolved from health perks large companies used to offer into more immediately necessary employee benefits.
Some companies even go as far as offering their employees premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate.
Are all wellness programs alike, you ask?
The answer is, not really. As all individuals are different, so are the wellness programs designed for their healths. These can range from simple things like on-site flu shots or sanitation of common areas, to bigger events like fitness and sports contests organized by the company to promote wellness.
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This came to be not only because employees themselves were in search of better health benefits, but also because company owners of the last few decades have come to realize something very important:
The cost of an employee's poor health would ultimately harm the company more—both financially and in terms of overall performance.
Now, consider the cost of treatments for chronic illnesses (such as diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, etc.), and think of how much you would shell out for a reliable wellness program. The latter is so much more cost-effective than the former.
Why is that?
As healthadvocate.com explains, "chronic conditions are often preventable and frequently manageable through early detection, diet and exercise – the cornerstones of workplace wellness programs."
Ultimately, the goal of these programs is to fulfill the seven dimensions of wellness: social, physical, emotional, career, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual. The ideal output being a collective increase of productivity from the entire team. After all, simple physical presence doesn't necessarily equate to a focused mental presence.
Different companies go about the program in different ways, and according to a Forbes article by Allan Kohl, that’s completely fine. “What’s important is that you’re thinking about employee health and recognizing the role wellness can play among your workforce.”
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This trend isn't popular for no reason.
In fact, results of the programs have been known to boast an average return on investment (ROI) of 3:1.
There have also been visible reductions in employee absenteeism, staff turnover, and employee stress.
If you’re in any way intimidated by this trend, don’t be.
Workplace wellness programs are surprisingly easy to incorporate into your workplace culture.
Most companies assign a committee to handle this or leave it up to the HR section. Stressing about it would be counterproductive.
People naturally communicate. And besides, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the perfect wellness program for your set of people. It’s best to observe the progress of your program and supervise it from a distance.
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In fact, with the advancement of tech these days, it’s getting easier and easier to monitor your health. From smart watches to high-tech weighing scales, gathering of data doesn’t have to be so tedious anymore. One move and a click away, they’re all there. Take advantage of this and help your employees monitor their own health, and work forward from there.
If you're still lost, below are some additional tips on improving employee wellness:
Provide Healthy Office Snacks
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Consumption of office snacks is inevitable. Employees will either bring or buy their own variety of unhealthy snacks, or you can provide them yourself. Doing this might not regulate your team's diet on a personal level, but it does help them balance it out.
Or maybe organizing a healthy picnic or a cook-out with your team can be a good team-building activity too. Don't forget to watch out for popular allergens in your food ingredients.
Make Your Office Pet-Friendly
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...only if you can. Don't risk the sanitation of your workspace if you don't know how to handle animals well. But a recent study from Central Michigan University did find that the presence of a dog improves collaboration and activity. (Who wouldn't love to run and play around with dogs anyway, and in their own office no less?)
For the more inactive and introverted crowd, consider keeping an aquarium. Fishes have also been known to reduce stress. Keeping them fed and healthy can be a good break activity for some people.
Sponsor Guided Meditation
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The mental and spiritual wellbeing of your employees is equally important to their physical wellbeing. Teaching them to meditate will lessen the overall stress they've been regularly accumulating at work.
There are different kinds of meditation: some for anger management, some to improve sleeping patterns. But all of them are for the clearing of the mind. Advice your employees to integrate meditation in their lives and in their workplace by encouraging five to ten minute breaks for meditation.
Bring the Outdoors Inside
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A little bit of nature inside the office should help destress the workplace. People are instinctively attracted to nature and are more peaceful around green space. Don't make your workspace too rigid and add a few more signs of life to rejuvenate the place.
Don't forget to open up the windows too just to let a bit more sunlight get in. Plants and humans alike can't live without some sunshine.
Get Your Team on Their Feet
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Studies have shown that prolonged sitting can be harmful for your bodies, so much so that it can cut down your life expectancy.
Encourage them to walk around, have meetings outside the office, or provide them with standing desks.
These tools may initially look simple, but they have been proven to boost productivity in the workplace. They are convenient, affordable, and functional. They also condition the users' minds into being more active as they move into a more active (standing) position.
The working space itself is vital to the perfomance of the team. If the environment they work in is not at all comfortable or encouraging, then how do you expect the people inhabiting the space to be productive?
All said and done, wellness programs aren’t all about the financial benefits. At the end of the day, you should be organizing these programs for the sake of your people. Wellness programs only truly succeed if you sincerely care for your employees. Make sure to remember that the heart of workplace wellness will always be the employees themselves.
And lastly, don't forget to take care of yourself too. You are a part of the company. Bond with your team. Participate in these wellness programs and activities. Don't forget that as the leader, it is your duty to lead by example.
For more information on workplace wellness, visit Forbes.com.
For more posts on health, visit: www.stancephilippines.com