From claims that sitting is the new smoking to our ever-lengthening, never-ending workday, there’s no doubt you and your employees could stand to focus more on personal health. But, in all fairness, why should it be an employer’s responsibility to get people exercising and eating right?
After all, whether or not someone is committed to their wellness is a personal decision. What can employers really stand to gain from investing in an employee wellness program?
As it turns out, quite a lot. Here are just a few reasons developing a wellness program can strengthen your organization and impact your bottom line.
A basic employee wellness program focuses on two things: encouraging and providing the opportunity for daily exercise, and access to healthy foods.
Regular exercise releases endorphins that help workers feel more positive, energized and better able to focus and retain information. A healthy and balanced diet also reduces the risk of obesity and boosts the immune system, which means employees are better able to stave off disease.
Sharp minds, positive attitudes and fewer sick days? Sounds like the perfect workforce to me.
Strengthened Company Culture
One of the most important aspects of a company is its culture, and an employee wellness program can be a great way to improve yours. Fitness classes like yoga or boot camp give employees an opportunity to collaborate in a different setting. Setting health and wellness goals by team or department taps into people’s competitiveness while also fostering teamwork and cooperation.
An estimated 61 percent of workers are burnt out at their current job, according to a CareerBuilder survey. One of the leading causes of job burnout? Work-life imbalance.
While shifting expectations about connecting to work after-hours and making it easier to take vacations is a great place to start improving your workforce’s work-life balance, encouraging people to take breaks during the workday to exercise, meditate or eat a healthy meal is also highly effective. Just a few short breaks each day can help employees avoid crippling burnout.
Want employees to stick around longer? One of the most impactful ways to reduce turnover is to show greater appreciation. While recognition programs and compensation are two methods of showing appreciation, providing a workplace that promotes health and wellness is another.
Providing perks like an on-site gym or free gym membership, fresh fruits and vegetables in the break room, mindfulness training and other similar benefits show employees you care about them and genuinely want them to enjoy their time at work.
How to Get Started
Depending on company size and budget, there are plenty of outside firms skilled in creating personalized employee wellness programs. But there are also a few things you can do in the short term, including:
- Give employees an extra 30-minute break each day to take a walk, lift weights or play basketball
- Arrange teams and set quarterly fitness goals, such as pounds lost or steps taken
- Replace processed snacks with items like fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy trail mix
- Implement standing desks
- Create an incentive program for employees to track their steps and award prizes
- Encourage employees to get up and stretch. As part of its workplace wellness program, Cedars-Sinai Health System produced videos that promoted stretching exercises employees could do at their desks.
Using budget toward employee wellness initiatives may seem secondary to other efforts with a more direct link to revenue growth. But make no mistake: by investing in your employees’ wellness, you’ll see nearly immediate ROI in the form of a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.