Section 1: Introduction
“Our body gets the benefit by moving. Our mind gets the benefit by remaining still.”
–Anjan Pathak, Co-Founder, Vantage Circle
For far too long we have prioritized doing well over being well.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had just one major job description. Being hunters and gatherers.
Leaping over trees, chasing their food, tasting potentially fatal berries- these were just the beginning of their job description. Their daily work involved much more. They had to be faster, keener and sharper with their senses or otherwise risk the expenditure of- well- being the prey.
Compare that to our present scenario. Do you know that doctors recommend 10,000 steps per day for good health?
However, an average employee walks only about 2000 steps a day contributing to the ever-growing health risk.
So what do employees do in the guise of improving better health outcomes? They regularly take a potent mix of multivitamins and pills, while going through a steady stream of unhealthy food and no exercise, hoping that it will be enough.
It never is though.
In fact, you ignoring your employees’ health might be costing you quite a bit more than you think.
In 2018 alone, poor employee healthcare costs have contributed to about almost $530 billion in losses to employers.
Let that sink in. Seems daunting, doesn’t it?
Wellness takes work, effort and time. Healthy behaviors simply don’t happen overnight.
Here we present to you an extensive corporate employee wellness guide on the how’s, what’s and why’s of generating a healthier standard of living for your workforce.
Section 2: What Are Corporate Wellness Programs?
There is no single person who does not want their business to grow. And, the smartest choice would be to invest in the most valuable asset- employees. Healthy workforce always equals healthy business. There is no doubt about that.
As the work culture progressed throughout human history, it came with its own share of advantages and perils.
The inclusion of technology at work might have made things easier at work. But this happened at the cost of lesser physical activity which is a basic requirement for a person to lead a healthy life.
With more hours spent over the work desk and less on one’s health, an employee now struggles to maintain healthy living for the long term.
You are probably already familiar with the golden line:
”Prevention is better than cure”
However, the current health scenario in most of today’s organizations tends to focus more on providing the cure rather than take preventive measures.
This is where the traditional health plans took backstage in mitigating employee health risks and the concept of corporate wellness programs came into the picture.
Corporate wellness is not a brand new concept. It has been there for a long time. And, since then most companies have implemented corporate wellness programs in their workplaces.
However, most of the present day’s corporate wellness programs provided by employers mainly include paid insurance covers, subsidized healthcare services, extended medical leaves and more.
Though these measures are noteworthy, they come into effect only after an employee has undergone any treatment or has succumbed to some serious health issues.
Corporate wellness programs don’t take into account the idea of leading a healthy life through continuous and focused efforts.
This is why the need for modern corporate wellness programs arose for today’s leaders and organizations.
So what exactly is a corporate wellness program?
A corporate wellness program is an employers’ approach towards achieving a healthy workplace by incorporating various health activities within the daily work schedule to promote their employees’ wellbeing.This basically takes a holistic approach towards the health of employees by creating a supervisory health culture.
These health activities, however, can range from anything to everything centred around health, if it means driving the employees towards maintaining good health.
The benefits of corporate wellness programs are manifold.
Creating wellness programs help in solving various workplace health risks arising from the consumption of unhealthy food and drinks, stress, lack of physical activity and more. These measures, in particular, help in cultivating a sense of being healthy.
Providing a corporate wellness solution which is not restricted within the barriers of traditional wellness programs, along with developing healthy habits improves other health results while boosting productivity and employee engagement.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association:
“89% of workers at companies that support well-being efforts are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.”
One size doesn’t fit all and the same implies in case of employee wellness which varies on factors like workforce size, work environment, and work schedule.
Corporate wellness programs can be found in many forms across different organizations. Some may provide insurance covers for their employees’ while others may take a step forward by installing workplace gyms.
These wellness programs simplify the design, development and implementation of a wellbeing program. They put together everything employers offer employees into an easily navigated platform thereby directing employees as they pave their ways to better health.
However, to your relief corporate wellness programs too can be customized according to an organization’s needs, size, and budget.
Section 3: Wellness In The Workspace
Enter any office in the world and you will be most likely be greeted by a familiar sight.
What is paramount to your organization’s success? Your assets, rather valuable assets which are your employees. Keeping them fit and happy is the first step towards ensuring good employee health.
With corporations extending working hours and dealing with never ending stress, it only makes sense for an organization to offer wellness strategies for retaining staff and motivating them to keep performing their best. Because pay is longer the most focused area in the current world but the job satisfaction, appreciation and provisions of work-life balance reach the top ranks.
Due to this, progessive companies make provisions of lifestyle eduction, fitness sessions, health assessments and what not.
The modern-day work environment- with its long periods of sitting, quick takeout meals, and computer screen eye strain- isn’t constructive to either the mental or the physical well-being of your employees.
Employees, in general, tend to make unhealthy choices as compared to healthier ones, simply because they don’t have the time to do so. Picking up a doughnut for breakfast is easier than making a salad. Several cups of coffee substitute for a bad night’s sleep. Getting some extra winks in the morning instead of getting up and exercising.
Do you know what this particular set of lifestyle choices has resulted in a generation of workers suffering from a myriad number of health problems?
All of these illnesses, in general, indicate poor physical health among employees.
But there is a larger concern at hand.
Amidst the urgency to reach our peak physical health, very often we overlook another important aspect for overall wellness i.e. Mental Health.
Very often a clear distinction is made between the “mind” and the “body”. And that’s where we start to make poor decisions.
Having a “healthy mind” and “healthy body” shouldn’t be considered as two separate entities. It’s not an apple to an orange situation. You don’t have to choose one above the other.
Organizations of today focus so hard and so long in facilitating good physical health that they don’t stop to consider the implications of ignoring mental health in the organization.
1 out of 6 people experience some form of mental health problems in the workplace. (Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists)
It’s a problem. A huge one, at that.
But here’s the good news. There is a clear way to fix this problem.
And the answer is “you”.
You play an (if not the most) active role in encouraging employees to make healthier choices and in creating a health-centric culture. But it’s not as easy as simply hanging motivational posters and providing healthy snacks in the breakroom.
Encouraging employee wellness goes far beyond these very basic steps.
No pressure, right?
In this guide, we will go through the ways through which you can encourage healthy living in the workplace.
So sit down, relax and scroll!
Section 4: Importance of Corporate Wellness Programs
With a tight budget and limited resources, corporate wellness programs might seem inconceivable at the moment for you.
But here’s the reality. Investing in corporate wellness programs may prove better for your company in the long run.
Researchers from Harvard published an extensive summary from 22 different studies over a course of 3 years and here’s what they found.
“For every $1 that was spent on a wellness program, the company saved $3.27 because of reduced healthcare costs.”
It’s not surprising to see the value of building a culture around healthy living.
Still doubtful about the importance of corporate wellness programs?
Here are some statistics supporting why you need to invest in it:
Infographic Reference links:
The employee benefits- both tangible and intangible- that effective corporate wellness programs bring to the table are immense.
- Work-Related Illnesses: When an employee is in good health it shows through reduced stress, increased strength, and better immunity.
- Insurance Costs: When employees get sick less often it qualify for lower health insurance rates thus resulting in substantial savings to employees and companies alike.
- Lower levels of Absenteeism: Absenteeism is reduced by 27% for those exercising and eating healthy regularly.
- Higher Morale: Healthier employees tend to be more positive, outgoing and enthusiastic thus making the morale in the workplace go up.
- Less Stress: Stress among employees goes down considerably when they are in a healthy state.
- Lower Turnover Costs: 88% of surveyed employees claim access to corporate wellness programs weigh heavily in the decision to join and remain at a company.
- Increased Productivity: Wellbeing, in general, improves focus and productivity among employees.
By investing in corporate wellness programs, employers are in a unique position to drive employee engagement and create healthier, happier and more productive workforces.
Section 5: DREYMSS- The Seven Ways To Wellness
Wellness /ˈwɛlnəs/noun: the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
Now that we’ve covered the what’s and why’s of having a corporate wellness program, it’s time to get introduced to the “hows”.
Wellness is not just a program to be implemented. Wellness is in itself a way of living.
In the hindsight, most of the traditional corporate wellness programs only recognize the physical component of health.
While this certainly is better than nothing, employers that only emphasize physical health are missing out on a significant opportunity to positively impact their employees’ overall well-being.
Thankfully, bosses of today know how important is to approach employee wellness as being multifaceted.
If we consider wellness as the result of doing “something”, that something consists of 7 general aspects.
Drinking: Even mild dehydration can greatly decrease energy levels thus leading to major reductions in cognitive brain performance and memory.
Running: Increased indulgence in regular cardio such as frequent jogging helps to increase the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. It shows a visibly increased heart muscle rate and improved cholesterol rate.
Eating: You are what you eat. Partaking in healthy nutritious diet acts as medicine- to maintain, prevent, and treat disease.
Yoga: Yoga uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall health.
Meditation: Helps to elevate positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance.
Strength: Regular exercise can help build self-confidence, boost immunity, and keep you at bay from health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sleep: Healthy sleep can help your body better regulate blood sugar levels, keep your immune system functioning properly and even improve your heart health by decreasing stress.
In a nutshell,
Drinking + Running + Eating + Yoga + Meditation + Strength + Sleep = Overall Wellness
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day.”
Around 60% of a human body is made up of water.
According to a new survey by Quench, more than three-quarters (77%) of employees did not think they consumed enough water on a daily basis to meet their health needs.
Benefits of Drinking Water
Increased brainpower: The crucial benefit of drinking more water is an increase in brainpower. Since our brain is made of 73% water, drinking water helps one to think, focus, concentrate and stay alert. As a result, your energy levels also improve.
Promotes healthy weight management: Water aids in the removal of fat by-products and also helps you feel more full. Not only does this act as a natural appetite suppressant, but it can also improve your metabolism. Also, you’re less likely to gain weight when you drink a couple of glasses of water before a meal rather than eating the basket of bread.
Boosts immunity: A water guzzler is less likely to get sick. And who wouldn’t rather feel healthy the majority of the time? Drinking plenty of water helps fight against flu, cancer and other ailments like heart attacks.
Flushes Out Toxins: Gets rid of waste through sweat and urination which reduces the risk of kidney stones and UTI’s.
Prevents Cramps & Sprains: Proper hydration helps keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic so joint pain is less likely.
Helps with headaches: Dehydration is one of the most common leads to headaches. Research says that migraine and other forms of headaches are often implying that you are low on water intake.
Smooth bowel movements: Constipation is often seen as a common yet a serious problem characterized by irregular bowel movements. And fluid intake is usually considered the treatment for this.
How You Can Encourage It
Ensure accessibility: Given concerns raised by employees about not having enough time to get water during the day, review floor plans to ensure that water sources are only a short distance from workspaces.
Ensure quality and taste: Provide fresh, filtered, great-tasting water that doesn’t run out. Installing water coolers, large plastic jugs and individual water bottles within easy reach.
Communicate: Create engaging communications campaigns that encourage employees to get up, walk around and get a glass of water throughout the day, and promote a healthy workplace culture.
Create a trend: Make hydration a habit and lead by example. In general, humans are more inclined to do a particular thing when they see others doing it too. Keep advocating the benefits of drinking water and guzzle down some regularly. You can enlist the help of some fitness-savvy employees to encourage their peers to stay hydrated.
“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.” – Bill Bowerman, track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, Inc.
According to various studies, running for just 30 minutes 5 times a week helps in mitigating obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, depression, stabilize blood pressure and keep a check on more such unwanted health conditions.
Benefits of Running
Running has multiple health benefits like-
Weight Management: Today’s sedentary work culture is highly responsible for the growing numbers of employees falling prey to obesity and excess belly fat. However, by encouraging running you can help your employees lose weight by reducing unwanted body fat. Every 5 minute run at a pace of 10-min/mile burns about 45 calories. The same carried out for 30 minutes daily can help them stay in the perfect shape. This will eventually make them feel good and happy about themselves.
Improves Cardio Health: Nothing can beat a person having a healthy heart. Running directly impacts the heart making it more active burning the unnecessary amount of calories. Also, it makes the arteries expand and contract as much as thrice the amount as compared to a person sitting idle keeping the blood pressure low. Thus, mitigating the risk of various heart-related diseases.
Muscle and Bone Strength: As we age our muscle and bone strength decreases. Employees too fall prey to this since most of the modern-day work involves sitting at a desk all day without much physical activity. However, taking up running as a habit can reduce this risk and help retain both muscle and bone strength for a long time.
Stress Reliever: Running gives one an ample amount of me-time which is necessary in order to rejuvenate themselves. Moreover, the feeling of being healthier than your sedentary counterparts also plays a big role to mitigate stress. Also, running releases a lot of “feel-good hormone” known as endorphins within the body to reduce the feeling of pain. The same hormone is also responsible for slowing down the ageing process, boost the immune system and give relief from stress and anxiety.
Gives you better sleep: Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. Running makes you exhausted which in turn improves sleep quality. The more you run, the more sound your sleep is.
Immunity booster: running has a both positive and negative impact on immunity. Modest exercise is great for immunity and extreme exercise temporarily reduces it. So, not overdoing it is the key. Just run and decrease the risk of infection.
Reduces cancer risk: People who run on a regular basis have less chances of developing cancer since the body stays healthy. Besides, even if you suffer from cancer, running can help reduce the mortality rate and side effects from the difficult treatments in the phase. Running protects your body from developing diabetes too.
How can you encourage your employees to embrace running
Organize in-house health run and marathons: Organizing workplace health runs and a marathon is one feasible way to introduce running to your employees. This also helps to ignite the inner sportsmanship within the employees. Thus, boosting their morale which reflects back as increased productivity.
Incentivize their efforts: Rewarding your employees for embracing the path towards a healthy life will motivate them to stay on track for a long time. Furthermore, it’ll also improve their image towards their employers who are ready to go to the extent in order to ensure their good health.
Convey the benefits: No one will embrace any habit or work for a cause until they know about its benefits. Similarly, convey the benefits of taking up running as part of their daily routine to the employees. Once they realize the good side of this there’s no looking back from then.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine, Thy Medicine Shall Be Thy Food” – Hippocrates
As the saying goes, ”We are what we eat.” eating healthy is the foremost precaution one can take for various health-related issues that may arise at any point in time. However, maintaining a healthy diet could be quite challenging. Especially, for the employees working under a tight schedule having a nutritious meal is more like a dream in today’s date.
According to WHO, 80% of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented by adopting a healthy diet.
Benefits of healthy eating
Enhanced Immunity: A nutritious meal is the most important key towards achieving better immunity against many chronic diseases. Meals complimented with vegetables are great sources of dietary fibers and multivitamins.
Improved metabolism: Protein-rich meals help in improving the body’s metabolism rate. This also directly impacts one’s effort in losing weight positively while retaining energy for day to day work.
Better Mood: Good Food is Good Mood. Enjoying healthy meals can spike up a person’s daily energy level making them feel good. Light meals without much carbs and fats grant a person more flexibility.
Healthy heart: High blood pressure can almost be seen in every nook and corner and this can often lead to heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Healthy eating has a good role to play in this as eating habits, like fibrous food items keep the heart healthy and fit.
Boosts memory: A healthy diet is also responsible for brain health. A nutritious food helps maintain cognition and fight against cognitive decline and dementia.
Weight loss: It goes without saying that a healthy diet has everything to do with weight gain and loss. The more calories you intake, your body will start taking an unhealthy shape accordingly. So maintain a good diet with food rich in fibre and lean proteins as they are essential in maintaining low weight.
Keeps bones and teeth strong: A healthy diet always includes food items rich in calcium and magnesium which further strengthens the bones and teeth. Healthy bones prevents bones issues later in life such as osteoporosis.
How can you encourage your employees to embrace healthy eating
The option of healthy snacks in the kitchen: One of the best ways to instill the habit of a healthy diet within your employees would be to give them an option of nutritious snacks. This will allow the employees to choose and taste a variety of healthy food items.
Encouraging healthy potlucks: Potlucks are a very effective way of improving workplace camaraderie. The same can be again effectively used to implement healthy food habits amongst the employees. Here, instead of bringing fatty and junk meals, you can encourage employees to bring healthy food for lunch. Organizing such potlucks will also impact the food choices your employees make.
Subsidized Health Foods: Subsidizing health food items would lure the employees to go for them instead of regular junk meals. It’ll also develop a positive image of you as an employer taking up measures to ensure that your employees are healthy.
If you think of yoga as simply being “some form of eastern exercise”, you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuji,” meaning union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body.
Patanjali, author of the classic yoga text, the Yoga Sutra, defined yoga as the quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.
“The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California.
As more and more people discover the benefits of yoga, the 3,000-year-old practice is increasingly finding its way into the workplace. In fact, the demand for corporate yoga has created whole squadrons of yoga teachers who specialize in office settings.
Yoga has a long list of scientifically proven benefits, including reduced muscle pain, stress, anxiety, improved quality of life, fitness, flexibility, and strength.
With all the benefits of yoga for office workers, yoga can be a crucial component of your workplace wellness program.
Benefits Of Yoga
Reduced Back Pain: One of the main reasons many people take up yoga is back pain, which is one of the most common workplace complaints about people with desk jobs. A 2012 British study published in the journal Occupational Medicine proved the point with an eight-week study that drew participants from a government office. It essentially divided the participants into two groups. One group was encouraged to do yoga for a week and the other group was allowed to continue their usual lifestyle. The story proved that the yoga group reported significantly less back pain and lower stress, as well as greater self-assurance, serenity, and concentration. By comparison, the group which didn’t partake in yoga reported more hostility, sadness, stress and back pain.
Lower Burnout Rates: A 2015 study published in Workplace Health and Safety found that nurses who performed a weekly yoga session for eight weeks experienced enormous reductions in warning signs for burnout. Among the benefits were- higher levels of self-care, less emotional exhaustion, and increased empathy when in their contact with patients.
Less Absenteeism: Yoga at the workplace has been shown to reduce absenteeism from sickness or other physical problems, to boost company morale and improve communication skills among employees. In addition, employees who took lunchtime yoga classes at two office sites in California reported a steep decline in stress and muscular pain.
Calm temperament: Yoga relaxes the body and calms the mind. People who are into yoga practice have more endurance capacity and can think more rationally thereby enhancing their productivity levels.
Stress relief: After long hours of work, yoga does a great deal of good to relieve the stress-filled mind. It helps in reducing cortisol, the stress hormone thus creating a relaxed situation for the mind.
Improves focus: A stressful work life can often put a pause to your brain and stop it from functioning logically. To combat that, Yoga helps with clearing your mind and freshens it up.
Increases flexibility: Flexibility leads to reduced joint pain and low blood pressure and yoga does make one flexible which further helps with improving posture and preventing injuries.
How You Can Encourage It
To the newcomer, yoga can be a bit intimidating. If you’re considering building a corporate yoga practice as part of your corporate wellness program, use these strategies to make sure the offering is accessible, fun, and adaptable to your employees’ lives outside the workplace.
Consider the environment: As with all corporate wellness programs, don’t ignore the fact that it’s happening in the workplace. Make sure your marketing efforts eliminate the stereotypes of yoga by describing a variety of classes that are practical for a workplace setting. For example, some sessions should be short, and employees should be able to do those classes in work clothes.
Remove prerequisites: To help employees become more comfortable with yoga in the workplace, emphasizing that they don’t need any special skills. Athleticism, strength, flexibility, and meditation experience aren’t required for workplace yoga. Those are just some of the side benefits that one may receive along the way.
Educate employees on the benefits of Yoga: Communicate all the layers of advantages like achieving better posture while sitting at a desk, gaining better focus, or using breathing techniques to manage stress.
Make office yoga accessible: Throw out any notions that your workplace yoga initiatives must mirror a typical boutique studio setting. Yoga doesn’t even have to be on the mat. Yoga can simply be instructions on taking deep breaths after sitting in a long meeting.
Gamification: Another option is to gamify the initial experience by encouraging managers to engage their teams in a competition to get people in the door. The fun helps lessen the intimidation. Once people start showing interest in participating, instructors can bring more awareness about what yoga really is.
“The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or emotions. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” –Dr. P. Goldin
Brilliant things tend to happen when you have a calm mind.
These days, when it comes to the modern workplace, the focus has become a scarce commodity. From relentless emails, office gossip, non-stop client meetings to an endless cycle of viral videos on your newsfeed, there’s no shortage of things to steal your attention besides actual work.
Thus to actually find some peace of mind amongst this constant draw of distractions has almost become an impossible criterion to achieve.
Aside from reduced stress and improved productivity, there are many other benefits that come from a corporate meditation program. A regular meditation practice helps to open creative doorways in the brain.
With increased focus, problem-solving skills get more creative and new ideas enter the mind more freely. Many people believe that Steve Jobs was so successful in coming up with new and innovative ideas for Apple thanks to regular meditation practice.
Benefits Of Meditation
Improved Focus: Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been shown repeatedly to improve our ability to sustain attention and decrease external and internal distractions. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that a meditation program led to changes in brain regions involving learning and working memory capacity.
Improved Mood: The consistent practice of mindfulness in the workplace through meditation would have a notable impact in lifting your employees' mood, including reducing severe depression and anxiety. A study from Boston University has shown that mindfulness and meditation-based programs lead to significant reductions in clinical levels of anxiety and depression across a range of conditions and an increase in patience and positivity. A daily practice can help to carry this optimism into the workplace and boost satisfaction.
Meditation = Less Stress: Stress has been linked to a wide range of medical problems, including hypertension, heart disease, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. A study done at Stanford University School of Medicine shows that those who practice mindfulness meditation display a reduction in stress-related symptoms, and report increases in their sense of control in their lives. For instance, mindfulness meditation can produce a 30% reduction in symptoms of stress among those with a serious illness.
Develops self-awareness: meditation helps you strongly know and understand yourself. This will further help you grow into your best self.
Increases attention span: Meditation for even 10 minutes daily will help you to develop attention span and good memory. In other words, focused-attention meditation increases the strength and endurance of your attention.
Fights addictions: The mental capacity you will develop through meditation is beyond comparison. The level of self-control and awareness meditation brings with itself is unmatched and it helps when fighting against addictive behaviors.
Improves sleep: insomnia is found in every household, these days. To address this problem, mindfulness-based meditation programs are the best to use. Meditation gives one sound sleep and reduced insomnia severity.
How You Can Encourage It
Encourage Staff To Use Short Mindful Exercises At Work: Get staff members to kick-start their day with the right mental attitude. After a long commute in traffic or a restless night with sick children, starting the day off with a mindful exercise can reinvigorate and re-energize employees to face the challenges ahead. A great way to do this is with a breathing exercise. It takes just 10 minutes and involves closing your eyes, sitting upright and relaxing. This simple exercise can help staff members to start off the day with the right mental attitude. They will be more focused and able to concentrate on the job at hand.
Introduce A Quiet Space: Not all employees will be into meditation though and the quiet space can be utilized by them for some time out, providing an opportunity to refocus without the distraction of emails, phones or office chatter. Some businesses have found it helpful to include in the room photos or images from nature which have a calming influence, along with classical or special relaxation music.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” –Thomas Dekker
Having a good sleep is one of the major parts of the puzzle for a healthy life. Proper sleep ensures better concentration, stress relief, improves immune function and tissue rebuild time. However, hectic work schedules often disrupt an employees’ normal sleep cycle.
These poor sleeping cycles are responsible for various physical and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. As well as, it also leads towards stress giving rise to stroke and other heart diseases.
Benefits of Proper Sleep
Better Brain Function: Sleeping is directly linked to our brain function. Just like our body, the brain requires rest too. A perfect sleep ensures normal brain functioning. It mitigates the risk of various mental illnesses arising due to improper sleep schedule or lack of sleep.
Lower Stress Level: Nothing can be a much better remedy for stress rather than a good sleep. Maintaining a good sleeping pattern can help lower down the stress level. This again has a positive impact on the cardiovascular health of an individual reducing the chances of chronic heart diseases.
Muscle Repair: We may be resting while we sleep but our body is actively involved in repairing damaged tissues and cells during this time. Cells produce a high amount of protein molecules which are the important blocks for muscle repair during sleep.
Makes One More Attentive: A perfect sleep adds fuel to our body by re-energizing it for the next day. Repeating the same tasks actively every day can ensure good sleep every night. Thus, making one feel fresh and energetic each and every day.
Weight loss: Getting quality sleep is very crucial for weight management as poor sleep leads to weight gain and is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
Prevents diabetes: Poor sleeping habits have adverse effects on blood sugar levels. People sleeping below 6 hours everyday have high chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Decreases inflammation: inflammatory bowel diseases are sometimes common when your sleep cycle is not uniform. There is long term inflammation of the digestive tract linked to poor sleep.
How to encourage one for a good night sleep
Implement “No-Work at Home” Policy: Employees bearing excess workload often take their incomplete work at their dinner table or bed at home. This disrupts their normal sleep schedule hampering their overall health. As an employer in order to keep a check on this, you can implement “No-Work at Home Policy. This will allow your employees to re-energize themselves for the next day after a good sleep.
Discourage Consumption of Excess Caffeine: Drinking excess coffee during work hours at the office can sometimes lead to sleep deprivation at night. This is because caffeine blocks adenosine a substance in our body that induces sleep. Encouraging employees to avoid coffee in the late afternoon or evening will help them maintain their normal body clock.
Provide Free Counselling to deal with sleep deprivation and stress: Sleep deprivation is something that can cause a lot of chaos within a person which he/she may not able to convey. The causes of sleep deprivation may be many and finding out the root of it is the only way to heal it. One of the ways to help your employees deal with sleep deprivation is to provide them with free counseling. Thus, making sure they get the best remedy to get their sleep cycle back on track.
“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger
Strength, the basic physiological trait that enables us to push ourselves and achieve maximum endurance capability is our daily life.
We all need strength to survive and thrive. The more strength we have the more agile and competent we are. And going with this fact, strength training is very essential for keeping our muscle mass and skeletal health intact which tend to degrade as we age. Another reason for strength degradation is the sedentary lifestyle which is highly observed amongst the modern-day workforce. The lack of physical movement complemented by inadequate time for exercise is one of the major reasons behind many employee health issues.
Benefits of Strength Training
Ensure Strong and Lasting Skeletal Health: Engaging in strength training stresses the bones and helps to increase bone density. Thereby, mitigating the risks of health problems like osteoporosis. And moreover, it also increases the stamina level of the individual.
Weight Management: Unbalanced body weight is one of the prime reasons behind many chronic illnesses. Strength training, on the other hand, helps in burning more calories and cut down the excess weight by increasing the rate of metabolism.
Mitigates the risk of various chronic diseases: Strength training plays a crucial role in mitigating the risk of many chronic illnesses. By keeping a check on the various motor functions within the body and facilitating smooth blood flow throughout the body. It helps in bringing down the risks associated with diseases like stroke, backache, diabetes, arthritis and many more.
Increased bone density: Regular strength training increases mineral bone density and reduces the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Reduces risk of injury: Strength training improves connective tissues along with strengthening ligaments, boosting motor performance and less trains. This leads to low risk of injury.
Boosts mood and energy levels: Strength training rises up the endorphin levels which lifts energy levels and enhances your mood. And it further helps in building confidence and elevate self-esteem.
Induces balance and flexibility: weight lifting leads to working the joints through motion thereby keeping one strong and flexible thereby ending with better balance as you age.
How You Can Encourage It
Encourage “Walk Breaks” Between Work: Physiological health issues arise mostly due to the lack of body movement. And today’s workforce is the worst hit because of this due to the sedentary way of work. As a responsible employer, you can mitigate this issue to a certain extent by encouraging your employees to “get up and move for good”. For ensuring this you can also introduce step challenge within the organization. Encouraging your employees to take short walk breaks in between their work not helps them deal with their fatigue. But it also allows their bodies to stretch the vital muscles and ensure smooth motor functions.
Introducing fun Wellness Challenges: Workplace wellness challenges ideas like office fitness challenges and office weight loss challenges are great ways to promote physical activity and fitness among your employees. Such challenges can encourage your employees to adopt healthy habits to become fitter, stronger, and more energetic.
Providing in-house Health Care Facilities: Most of the workplaces now provide their employees with in-house health care facilities like yoga rooms, gyms, etc. Such arrangements made from the employers’ end is a good way to lure employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle in between their busy schedule. Also, another option that is feasible here is to provide your employees with sponsored or subsidized gym memberships.
Using Corporate Wellness Application: Everything is now available within the reach of our fingertips and this goes the same for our health as well. Using a corporate wellness application like that of Vantage Fit allows employers to run multiple wellness challenges over a period of time. Moreover, it also lets the employers incentivize the employees who are able to achieve their health goals at the end of every challenge. This way it benefits both the employee and employers. Employers are able to track their employees’ health progress over time. And incentivization motivates the employees to take up challenges, engage in healthy competition and complete challenges to earn rewards.
Section 6: How To Encourage Workplace Wellness
According to UnitedHealth, nearly 75% of workers are interested in having corporate wellness programs and 59% of those who have one credited it with helping them live healthier lives.
1. Health Ambassador
You will always find someone at your workplace who is both health-conscious and an inspiration to his/her peers. Such employees’ can act as a role model for all the others and encourage them towards leading a healthy life. You can assign them the title of “Health Ambassador” and let them be the face of good health in the organization.
2. Gym Memberships
Building an in-house gym can be a costly affair, keeping in mind the cost of maintenance and hiring a professional to take sessions. However, you can opt for partnering up with a nearby gym for providing your employees with subsidized memberships.
3. Health Articles And Newsletters
Awareness is the greatest agent for change.
Starting off health campaigns in the organization takes a lot of effort in the beginning. And for the most, the main challenge here is motivating the employees to take a closer look at their health. However, sending health articles and daily newsletters as a part of your workplace health promotion activities can help you spread awareness about the costs and deficiencies of an unhealthy lifestyle.
4. Healthy Snacks
When it comes to in-office perks, a lot of companies assume it’s the big, splashy amenities that matter most. But studies suggest that there’s a much more manageable prerequisite.
In fact, it’s so simple that it’s easy to overlook: healthy office snacks.
First, there’s the fact that what your employees eat directly affects their performance. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance”.
A bad decision at the vending machine can derail a day’s worth of productivity. Healthier snack options like options provide sustained energy for high performance throughout the day.
Also, consider that snacks impact one’s overall diet (and, therefore, overall health) more than any other meal category. A study of more than 200 adults in a worksite wellness program found that snacking choices at work affected both the quality of one’s diet and general health categories, like BMI. The healthier the snacking choices, the better the participants’ overall diet and health.
5. Ergonomic Office Equipment
According to obesity researcher James Levine, “chairs are lethal.” During his several decades of study, he found that prolonged periods of sitting slow down your metabolism and promote fat accumulation. By simply standing up intermittently while you work, you’ll instantly decrease your risk of obesity. Active workstations will improve, while also keeping them in shape.
Invest in office equipment that encourages movement. Standing, stationary bike and treadmill desks don’t always burn as many calories as some would have you believe, but they do encourage workers to walk around the office more than if they were constantly sitting and can increase your employees' productivity for tasks that don’t require a lot of fine motor skills.
A more feasible and relatively cheaper option is to invest in standing desks.
6. Time Off For Exercise
No matter how “healthy” your office workstations are, it will never come close to the beneficial effects of exercise.
To give your employees the full effect of exercise, allow them to take an hour off every day as Cliff Bar does. Even 30 minutes of exercise in a day will rejuvenate your employees and they will come back refreshed, healthier, and more focused.
One study which followed a company- that reduced work hours to allow for exercise- found that productivity remained at the same level or higher than those with longer work hours and no exercise, so there was no loss in work ethic. Also, the employees’ who exercised felt better about themselves and found themselves to be more productive and ill less often.
7. Set Reminders
A small study conducted to test the effects on employees of a 30-minutes long morning exercise routine vs five-minute walks throughout the day. It found out that both types of exercise worked to improve energy levels but the five-minute walks showed some additional benefits. Participants who completed these micro-exercise sessions reported improved moods, decreased levels of fatigue, and reduced food cravings.
Encourage your employees to get up and move around for five minutes every hour or practice some easy to do office exercises at their desk itself. Remind them to eat healthily and reach for that water bottle every once in a while.
In this process, it is unthinkable to go up to each employee and coax them to do something for themselves.
What you can do is to set up some form of online reminders like using a corporate health platform or set up posters in and around the office to motivate your employees.
8. In-House Library and Coursewares
Maintaining employee wellness is not only confined to making sure the employees are physically well. An employee has to bear a lot of mental stress as well in their day to day work life. Therefore, it becomes important to address issues relating to employees’ mental wellbeing. Having an in-house library is one of the ways to help out your employees here. Reading a good book has its own positive impact on a person’s brain. Similarly, encourage reading amongst your employees during their free time. Also, you can facilitate your employees with various in-house courses to learn from. This is will help them to let go of their mental stress at the workplace. Moreover, it also helps them to expand their knowledge, vocabulary and improve memory retention.
9. Monday Meditation
Perhaps the most feasible way to bring about employee wellness.
Everyone hates Mondays and your employees are no different. However, to help them get on the right track you can organize meditation sessions at the beginning of every week. Meditation helps bring tranquillity to one’s thoughts. Getting the employees to start off their week at work with a great round of meditation will help them stay focused. Moreover, meditation comes with its own set of benefits. It helps control anxiety, brings self-awareness, stabilizes blood pressure, boosts one’s attentiveness and more.
10. Smoke Cessation Campaign
Smoking has become a very common habit among professionals around the world. And the most obvious reason cited by many for this is the ever-growing work stress. Since it is a known fact, how smoking causes various chronic heart and lung diseases. It has become very important to curb this.
Implementing a smoke cessation campaign at the workplace, however, can help mitigate this issue to a certain extent if not the whole. Through the campaign, you can reach out to the employees with ways to recede smoking, incentivize their efforts to leave smoking, declaring “no-smoking” zones in and around the workplace. Giving up on the habit of smoking will help the employees achieve better stamina as well as reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
11. Work Breaks
Working for longer hours at a go has adverse effects on an employees’ body. These include backaches, headaches, muscle cramps, and eye strains. As such encouraging the employees to take small breaks at regular intervals between the work becomes very important. Such breaks help employees to get rid of the stress that accumulated during the work. Also, using these small breaks for drinking water and stretching vital body parts helps them rehydrate and keep the normal blood circulation intact. Thus, making the employee feel rejuvenated.
12. Pace Up With the Senior
Every change in the workplace should begin from the top level. Employees most of the time look up to their seniors for motivation. Embracing workplace wellness ideologies for a healthy work environment should also begin at the top level. Motivating the employees by challenging them to pace up with their seniors will give rise to a healthy competition. This will lead to the effective implementation of various workplace wellness ideas put in place. Moreover, it also lets the employees know their top peers and understand their thoughts. Hence, helping employees learn more and excel in their careers.
13. Games and Other Activities
Encouraging games both indoor and outdoor can be a great addition to your workplace wellness. Where indoor games like chess and checkers can relief employees of mental stress. Having a space for soccer and other sports will let employees test their physical endurance. Also, you can opt for many other activities like taking in-house courses, cooking classes, dance studios, etc.
14. Let It Be Green
A clean and green campus really helps to create a cool and calm environment. Plants filter out the unnecessary gases. It positively impacts employees’ productivity by giving them a feeling of freshness. Small plants around office spaces also help to create a healthy work environment. It also makes the office landscape look good and vibrant.
15. Hosting virtual wellness retreat
A virtual retreat can be a grand way to bring all your employees together from their respective homes and celebrate wellness. Right from holding online yoga classes and nutrition sessions by top-level experts, you can arrange a full day retreat. And, make your employees experience all things wellness from their comfortable couch.
16. Celebrating fitness friday
Friday is almost the weekend and that makes it the apt day to try to do some wellness activity in the office since the very next day is a holiday where they can rest. One day in a week is quite enough for the employees to freshen their mind through some fitness activities. That Friday can act like a getaway from work towards healthy living. Not too much.
17. Health fair
Holding health fairs in the workplace once in a while can serve the exact motive of encouraging employee wellness. Plan a health fair where you invite experts to promote their health services while talking about the various benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Besides, fun-filled wellness activities will implant enthusiasm and excitement amongst the employees.
18. Employee survey
There is no point implementing wellness programs in the workplace if your employees do not enjoy them. You have to know what programs keep the workforce engaging. Due to which, it is better to do a basic employee survey for their feedback. Once you get the insights, it becomes easier to implement.
19. Walking meetings
Meetings are pretty much tiring, isn’t it? So try to make them fun by introducing the concept of walking meetings, at times. As it is known, walking is a great form of exercise and meetings are mandatory. Combine the two and get yourself a healthy workforce.
20. Stairs instead of elevators
Climbing stairs everyday can turn out to be great for fitness. If your office is located on the 5th floor, there is no chance employees will take stairs. Because elevators make it easy and less exhausting. Put a note on the elevator door asking employees to take the stairs instead and make it compulsory.
21. Workout passes
Offering an hour to your employees everyday for workout can act as a key to motivation for them. Amid all work-stress, if they get a chance of doing something for their health, what else does anybody require? All you need to do is create workout passes and distribute to your employees so they can take some time out from their hectic schedule for minimal workout sessions. A little flexibility kick is what they deserve to get some exercise.
22. Fitness challenges and contests
When there are contests and challenges, there should be prizes. And when there are prizes, no one lets the opportunity slide. Walking, running, cycling challenges, if organized, employees will get a lot out of it. Fun attached with fitness- employees will be thrilled and all ready. These types of challenges bring the entire office onboard. Holding sleep challenges, water challenges, nutrition challenges incentivize crucial lifestyle change especially when awards are attached to them. The contests can be one week or 8 week long which will eventually push the workers to enter the fitness challenges. Get the competition out and everyone will come around.
23. Promote walking and cycling
As discussed, walking is a great way towards starting a healthy lifestyle. Although it is quite obvious to be running late for work in the morning amid all the rush. Employees either commute in public transport or private. However, you as an employer can seek to change that and ask your employees to start walking to the office. This is as healthy as it can get. Infact, what you can do is stop providing parking space to people who live in close proximity to the office thereby promoting walking and cycling.
24. Lunch and Learn
A lunch and learn proves to be an exceptional way to develop health consciousness in the employees. Hosting a lunch and learn involves all employees going for a lunch where they can share each other's fitness activities and get inspired. Even though in an informal atmosphere, there is a lot to learn. The employees can motivate each other along the lines of maintaining good health. Collaborate and learn to drive each other towards development.
25. Wellness application
Technology has taken over the current world. Having said that, there are plenty of wellness applications out there in the market. These employee well-being tools can come in handy if you are working towards promoting healthy living amongst the workforce. Several wellness activities can be held on the virtual platform of these applications which will keep employees engaged and active.
The best part of these softwares is their ability to sync and keep track of all the physical activities. Health assessments, heart rate monitor, step tracker and every other health activity is tracked thereby making employees and employers aware of their health. Also, employee participation increases through gamification and fitness rewards. So, launch a wellness application and see how the entire workforce wakes up and works towards leading a healthy life.
Section 6: Major Companies Using Workplace Wellness Programs and Plans
It’s hard to balance work and wellness. At some companies, though, it’s a little easier, thanks to the awesome corporate wellness programs they offer.
Organic lunches, gym memberships, 24/7 access to a physician, in-office massages, yoga classes and much more. It’s all about wellness in today’s work world.
Here are some companies that rank wellness alongside success and who are investing in benefits that scream work-life balance.
Microsoft designed the Living Well Health Center and Pharmacy to offer employees convenient access to high-quality, comprehensive care. Whether employees need to visit the doctor, fill a prescription, or get nutrition counseling, they can access these services and more, right on the Redmond, Washington campus.
Microsoft not only offers generous paid parental leave to its employees, but they also require that Microsoft suppliers offer their employees paid parental leave for a minimum of 12 weeks, up to $1,000 per week.
Employees are encouraged to look after their wellness with a full health package that includes physician house calls, paid gym memberships, and on-campus perks that include a spa and sports fields.
Apple’s being a humongous corporation boasts with its 100,000 square-foot wellness center. It’s Cupertino facility has a wellness center where the waiting time is reportedly just 5 minutes. Here all the Apple employees can avail services from health to dental care.
A green campus itself creates an environment of wellness all around it. Committed to its stand on conserving the environment, Apple has planted almost 9000 trees in and around its campus. The trees planted are all drought tolerant.
Apple’s revived Parental Leave Scheme now allows its employees to take more weeks off. An employee can take a 4 week off before delivery and up to 14 weeks post-delivery. Non-birth parents can also avail parental leaves for as much as 6 weeks.
Draper introduced its employee wellness program back in the year 2006 with the inclusion of an on-site health clinic. It also partnered with the Henry County Memorial Hospital to provide their employees with healthcare services. Moreover, the in-house healthcare services are also extended to an employees’ family for a minimal co-pay.
Draper achieved its goal of smoke cessation within its employees by educating them about the adverse effects and providing them with free medication.
The company has put in place various fun activities to drive their employees towards wellness. With programs like “Dump your Plump” and “Walk to Hawaii” the company also incentivizes its employees’ efforts for embracing a healthy lifestyle with gifts and paid trips.
Google is very well known amongst the millennials for its employee health and corporate wellness programs. The credit of all of this goes to their on-site gyms and various other wellness facilities. Its unique corporate wellness programs make sure everything from the nutritious meal to healthcare is within the easy reach of all the employees.
Keeping in mind the need to keep an employee’s’ social life intact. The IT giant allows its employees to take paid voluntary leaves. This is again complemented by the company’s will to match the donation made by its employees.
The company also takes care of its employees’ desire to learn and excel in their profession. Googlers can avail various courses like guitar, professional development, languages, singing within the campus. It also allows the employees to pursue higher education and resume their jobs after returning.