Invest in Health and Wellness

Thursday, December 15 2011

Health and wellness should be an important part of an organization’s strategy. Studies show that individuals who participate in fitness programs have substantially lower turnover and absenteeism rates compared to those who do not. Corporate wellness programs return more than double the investment. The benefits to the company include the attraction of better employees, and reduced costs for disability, drugs, stress leaves, and general health costs.

Traditionally, workplace wellness focused on the very important issue of safety. Today, smart organizations promote healthy eating and active living to help employees improve health, manage stress, reduce injuries, maintain higher morale, increase job satisfaction, and live a more enjoyable life.

What can you do?

Health and wellness programs need not be complicated, expensive or time consuming. Like all successful programs, they start with a long-term vision, short-term goals, and champions to drive the process.  Here are areas to consider for your planning:

Safety Management Practices  
Identify hazards. Scrutinize accidents and near accidents to learn how to avoid a repeat.

Physical Work Environment
Design workstations to minimize negative impact on physical health and psychological well-being.

Organizational Climate & Culture
Build a culture of support rather than competition. Create positive values that set behavior standards for all.

Healthy Living
Develop an internal marketing program to encourage healthy eating and an active lifestyle.  Provide guidance for shift workers about how to improve sleep patterns and eat regularly.

Work and Family Life Balance
Deliver consistent and repeated messages about the value of achieving work/life balance. Ensure individuals understand how to be productive at work and spend quality time with family.

Health Services
Create an employee assistance program to facilitate access to supplementary health services.

Mental Health
Help individuals recognize the symptoms of mental, emotional and spiritual health challenges. Offer access to service for those who experience distress. This helps remove the stigma of these problems.

Stress Management
Develop management practices that make reasonable demands on time and energy.  Involve people in decision making.  Provide information on the signs of unhealthy stress.

Create opportunities to access fitness programs, either onsite or by striking a deal with a local fitness centre.

Workers are much more productive when they are physically and mentally healthy, and find satisfaction and meaning in their work. Investing in health and wellness delivers one of the best returns for any organization.