Are you the employer that provides the encouragement your employees need to live a fit and healthy lifestyle? If not, you may be missing out on the opportunity to drastically improve your business from the inside out. Workplace wellness programs are one one of the biggest workplace trends in recent years. These programs can be as simple as offering occasional blood pressure and cholesterol checks, or as elaborate as the installation of an on-site gym. Most workplace wellness programs fall somewhere in the middle, offering screening and preventative programs, and financial incentives for healthy behaviors to employees. The idea is based on the theory that healthier employees are not only happier, but they are also more productive and they miss fewer days of work due to illness.
So why should employers offer workplace wellness programs? Well, there are plenty of reasons. One of the biggest complaints people have with regard to developing healthy behaviors is they don’t have time. Between work demands, family responsibilities and other obligations, finding the time to fit in a workout or prepare a healthy lunch for the next day isn’t always possible. Workplace wellness programs help to reduce these obstacles by making it easier for employees to make positive changes in their lives, and to possibly achieve health goals they would otherwise have difficulty accomplishing. The Less stress your employees experience, the more they are able to focus on work and meet deadlines.
Examples of programs and their advantages include:
- On-site cafeteria with healthy meals – this encourages better food choices and saves employees from time being wasted driving to and from lunch, or eating at a busy restaurant.
- Fitness programs – these can be through an on-site fitness center or through exercise programs at nearby gyms. Some health insurances offer breaks in premiums if the insured is a gym member.
- Health screenings and health services –When offered, these services can reduce the days that employees take off work for doctor’s visits, and there is often little or no cost to the employee.
Are you looking to emphasize teamwork with your staff? Barbara A. Brehm, Ed.D., professor at the Department of Exercise and Sport Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. says planning fitness with a friend can help you avoid making excuses to not work out. She says exercise partners “can provide a kind of gentle coercion and limit your negative self-talk.” Maybe not to the same level as your best friends, but your coworkers can help hold you accountable to your goals.
Workplace wellness programs don’t just benefit employees. Employers also benefit from workplace wellness programs, often seen in the form of better productivity and less absenteeism, as well as higher morale and lower insurance or worker’s compensation costs. An article on the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website states, “employers who implement a comprehensive set of strategies to address employee health and safety including policy and environmental strategies benefit by having the ability to reach most if not all employees at the worksite simultaneously. These strategies help create a culture of health and make the healthy choice the easy choice for employees.”
Workplace wellness programs can also be attractive recruiting tools, as prospects are looking for roles that come with lifestyle incentives as part of an overall compensation package. Employers also benefit from the positive public image these programs often present.
Most larger companies, and many smaller ones, have workplace wellness programs in place these days, so find out what your company offers and take advantage of them. And if you’re an employer, consider starting a wellness program for your employees, or perhaps expanding an existing one. Participation in healthy programs like these can transform your workplace, making you and your teams healthier and more productive. There’s nothing to lose, except maybe some unhealthy habits.