Health & Wellness In The Workplace

Health and wellness in the workplace are fiercely debated topics; with argument for and against the implementation of corporate wellness programs and their effectiveness. The reason it has been so widely debated is because every case is different. What works for one group won’t necessarily work for another; if you try to bang a square peg into a round hole you are going to meet some resistance and potential break, whatever it is you were trying to fix!

The definition of health is “to be free from mental & physical illness or injury” and wellness is “a state of good health especially as an actively pursued goal”. There are very few people who would say they want to be less healthy. So why do some Corporate Wellness programs succeed while others fail?

The key is in the approach, there are several factors which need to be considered when developing a Health and Wellness strategy:

  • Inclusivity – Communicating effectively with your team helps define their wants and needs early in the process, allows for continual evaluation of progress and makes people feel included in control of their program.
  • Adaptability – As a group progresses the program must evolve to meet their changing needs; as a walk becomes a run and a game becomes a championship!
  • Diversity – Maximising participation requires a diverse program which considers all aspects of the health and wellness of the team.
  • Enable & Promote – Often simply the gift of time can have a big impact and enables employees to focus on their own well-being. Extended lunches or flexible hours mean people can exercise and shower after, choose when they travel to a from the office to avoid congestion and take the time to enjoy the journey.

Now, theory is one thing, but how do you go about putting it into practice? Here are a few ideas which may provide some inspiration on how to maintain productivity, employee engagement and morale as we head into the cold, wet, dankness of winter!

Educate

It is all well and good saying I’m going to be healthier, but what is healthier? A series of presentations and demonstrations can go a long way to ensuring your team know how to be healthier.

Empowering Employee Benefits

Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and Employee directed benefits are registered contributions which can be used along side or traditional benefits packages to cover paramedical and alternative treatments e.g. massages, nutritionists, naturopaths etc. The contribution is generally tax free to the employee and empowers them to make their own choices when it comes to their Health & Wellness.

Encourage More Movement

In this age of convenience sometimes you must go out of your way to induce a little extra movement. Keeping it ‘lighthearted and fun’ is key. Here are some motion inducing ideas to integrate into the day or week.

  • Try to avoid going to the bathroom on the same floor you work on. Caution, travel time is obviously a consideration!
  • Avoid using the car if possible or park a distance from your destination or on the other side of the car park to the entrance. Not only do you get a few more steps in, there are generally loads of empty spaces.
  • Only use the elevator on Mondays, Wednesday and Friday for one week and then Tuesday and Thursday the next.
  • Walk to have a conversation with people in the office rather than email, phone or text.
  • Challenge of the week. This could be 200 reps of an exercise, no cream in coffee, 8 hours sleep a night etc.

Food & Nutrition

The adage garbage in, garbage out seems to hold true for the human body. An improved diet and eating habits can have a profound impact on a persons physical and mental Health. This is often easier said than done, people’s lives are busy and it is often difficult to know what to change and how to change it. Here are a few ideas to inspire a healthier relationship with food.

  • Pack your own lunch – It is often cheaper and you have more control over what you eat.
  • Post lunch walk – Help combat the post lunch lull with a walk. Fresh air and light exercise are good for boosting energy levels and improving digestion.
  • Pot Luck, Breakfast or lunch club – Mealtimes can be great social events. A corporately sponsored wellness meal can be a great opportunity for people to share thoughts and ideas.
  • Drink more water – Dehydration is well known to cause fatigue and lethargy.
  • Healthy office snacks – Introduce a fruit bowl and reduce the number of empty calories available in the office.

Volunteering & Charity Work

Giving can have a significant impact on a person’s health and wellness. It can reduce stress, provide a sense of purpose and helps to keep them mentally and physically active. Employee Volunteer Programs (EVPs) can be a powerful way of enabling employees to engage in charitable activities. Overtime a strong relationship can be established between the various organisations and benefits can spread beyond the recipient and employee to the employer and local communities.

Ergonomics & Feng Shui

Simply put this is making sure you feel comfortable and in control of your workspace.

  • Orientate your desk – The position of your desk can have a profound impact on your comfort whilst sitting at it. Feng Shui suggests the command position, facing the door.
  • Inspiration – Try to position yourself with a view from a window. If that is not possible improvise with photos and artwork.
  • Get Organised – A well organised workspace is more efficient than a cluttered one. Higher efficiency means greater productivity which in turn reduces stress.
  • Breathe – The value of high-quality air is frequently forgotten in the office environment. Plants can help to purify the air as well as providing a calming environment.

Undoubtedly a healthier happier work force has many benefits for both the employer and the employed the issue is knowing how to achieve it. The only way to do that is to start the dialog, ask lots of questions and really listen to the answers. Expect and welcome change so keep asking questions and seeking constructive feedback. Work as a team to improve, support and inspire Health & Wellness in one another.

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