Mental Health In The Workplace

A Complete Guide To Corporate Wellness Programs

Section 1: Introduction

“Our body gets the benefit by moving. Our mind gets the benefit by remaining still.” -Anjan Pathak

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 wellness guide on the how’s, what’s and why’s of generating a healthier standard of living for your workforce.

Section 2: What Is A Corporate Wellness program?

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.

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.

Such programs don’t take into account the idea of leading a healthy life through continuous and focused efforts.

This precisely became the reason why the need for a modern corporate wellness program arose to today’s leaders and organizations.

So what exactly is a corporate wellness program?

A corporate wellness program is an employers’ approach towards creating a healthy workplace by incorporating various health activities within the daily work schedule to promote their employees’ wellbeing.

Furthermore, such programs help in solving various workplace health risks from 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

The importance of having a wellness program at the workplace can also be linked to employee retention and acquisition.

According to a study by 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.

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.

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 coffees 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?

  • 72% of the corporate employees become prone to cardiovascular diseases, according to a recent survey. (Source: Economic Times)
  • The four health conditions with the highest rate of prescription drug use – high blood pressure (84 %), high cholesterol (66 percent), gastrointestinal disease (78 percent) and diabetes (79 percent). (Source: ComPysch)
  • Lack of exercise is common, with 29% of employees exercising only 0-1 days per week.

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- 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 experiences some form of mental health problems in the workplace. (Source)

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 wellness among employees 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 a Workplace Wellness Program

With a tight budget and limited resources, a corporate wellness program might seem inconceivable at the moment for you.

But here’s the reality. Investing in a corporate wellness program 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 skeptical about the importance of a workplace wellness program? Here are some statistics supporting why you need to invest in a corporate wellness program:

  • Research has demonstrated that workplace health initiatives can help reduce sick leave absenteeism by 27% and health-care costs for companies by 26%. (Source: WHO)
  • 61% of employees agree that they’ve made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness program. (Source: Aflac)
  • 38% of wellness program participants said it helped them take fewer sick days. (Source: HealthMine)
  • 91% of workers at companies that support well-being efforts say they feel motivated to do their best. (Source: American Psychological Association)
  • The main goals of company wellness programs are reducing health costs (60%), investing in culture (43%), and improving employee experience and satisfaction (37%). (Sorce: AJG)
  • 74% of employers view well-being as important to employees and a useful tool for recruiting and retaining staff. (Source: Xerox)

The employee benefits-both tangible and intangible- that an effective corporate wellness program brings to the table is 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 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 a corporate wellness program, employers are in a unique position to drive employee engagement and create healthier, happier and more productive workforces.

Section 4: 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 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:

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

1. Drinking

“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.”
-Joan Koelemay

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 brain power: The crucial benefit of drinking more water an increase in brain power. 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 aides 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.

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 the fitness savvy employees to encourage their peers to stay hydrated.

2. Running

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. It’s a proven fact that running helps to reduce 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 aging process, boost the immune system and give relief from stress and anxiety.

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.

3. Eating

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 which 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 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.

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 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. 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.

4. Yoga

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 PainOne 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 RatesA 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 an increased empathy when in their contact with patients.
  • Less AbsenteeismYoga 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.

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 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 any wellness program, 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.

5. Meditation

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 meditation can also have a notable beneficial impact on our overall 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.

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.

6. Sleep

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” –Thomas Dekker

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 over 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.

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.

7. Strength

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 with our 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.

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”. 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.
  • 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 health 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 a healthy competition and complete challenges to earn rewards.

Section 5: How To Encourage Workplace Wellness

According to UnitedHealth, nearly 75% of workers are interested in having a workplace wellness program 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. Healthy 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 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‘s 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. 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 app or set up posters in and around the office to motivate your employees.

8. In-House Library and Coursewares

Maintaining workplace 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 workplace 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 times 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 career.

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.

Section 6: Major Companies Using Corporate Wellness Plans

It’s hard to balance work and wellness. At some companies, though, it’s a little easier, thanks to the awesome workplace 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 who rank wellness alongside success and who are investing in benefits that scream work-life balance.

MICROSOFT

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

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

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

Google is very well known amongst the millennials for its workplace health and wellness programs. The credit of all of this goes to their on-site gyms and various other wellness facilities. Its unique employee wellness program makes 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 complimented 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.

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