The following is a guest post by Paige Ellingson. Paige is a creative communication executive and writer, currently based in Asia.
Health and wellness has become paramount for many people, which has affected many areas of life. One of the areas affected is the workplace. Businesses and startups are now using health and wellness programs to improve employee productivity and bring awareness to the necessity of healthy employees. Employees are using these programs as a means of managing work-related stress and striking a healthy work-life balance.
Effective programs are strategically tailored to a company’s goals, scalable, flexible and comprehensive. They also incorporate company policies, leadership messaging and the workplace environment into a mission for improved health. Improved health outcomes lead to lower healthcare costs, which makes these programs even more popular in the startup scene. Not only that, they help increase employee satisfaction, which leads to lower turnover rates.
These are a few reasons why wellness programs are becoming essential in the workplace. As people become more health conscious, this trend will continue to grow. In fact, there are seven major wellness trends affecting the corporate environment in 2017.
Embracing Technology in the Workplace
Technology has become an important aspect of life, and has become even more important in the corporate world. Technological advancements shape nearly every outlet companies have, including their wellness programs. Organizations must be prepared to keep up with the increasing demand for technology in the workplace, as certain technologies are needed to keep everyone connected.
Linking technologies, such as video conferencing, can keep employers in touch with remote employees and serve as a convenient way to connect to remote clients. This will help keep engagement levels as high as possible. Plus, an effective wellness program will adapt to technological demands through the use of wearables for fitness and safety.
Promoting Healthy Sleep Patterns
The CDC states that a healthy adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day, but 30 percent of American adults only sleep six or fewer hours per day. Businesses are now realizing that this lack of sleep negatively impacts employee wellness and performance. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation simply include exacerbation of existing health problems, such as depression, diabetes, sleep apnea, anxiety and cardiovascular disease. In the workplace, the short-term effects of sleep deprivation include:
- An increased risk of occupational injuries
- Decreased productivity
- A negative effect on memory retention, decision-making and mood
An effective wellness program can counteract all of these effects by advocating and promoting healthier sleep routines.
Maintaining a Healthy Workplace
Creating a healthy office environment is one of the top corporate wellness trends. Many organizations are discovering that a healthy workplace can lead to healthier behaviors and attitudes and increase employee engagement. This results in better overall health outcomes. However, maintaining a healthy workplace means being creative and diligent. Simple ways to make the workplace healthier include:
- Incorporating healthy activity into the workplace by initiating walking meetings
- Getting rid of high-fat food choices in the office and at staff meetings or holiday parties
- Keeping the staircases clean and lining the hallways with motivational messages and pictures to encourage taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Maintaining good air quality throughout the office
- Creating an ergonomic and free-flowing office space with comfortable and adjustable chairs and standing desks
Incorporating Stress Management Education
Stress can cause negative mental and physical side effects, so stress management is necessary in all areas. Employees encounter a lot of on-the-job stress, so stress management is becoming more prevalent in corporate wellness programs. Wellness programs now include education to help employees learn how to properly deal with stressful situations and cope with work-related stressors.
Not only does this benefit employees, it benefits organizations as well, as this education helps reduce the number of work-related claims associated with stress. These claims are something organizations should be made aware of. More information about workplace stress claims can be found at this website.
Focusing On Overall Well-Being
For most companies, the core of saving money on healthcare costs is in preventing and improving employee health problems. However, to do this, there must be an understanding of the mind-body connection and the importance of physical, mental and emotional health. Focus on overall well-being will help increase employee health outcomes, thus lowering healthcare costs.
Corporate wellness programs that take a holistic approach and address the mind-body health connection will be the most effective at increasing wellness and helping treat or prevent health problems.
Creating a Flexible Work Environment
Today’s employee thrives in and prefers a flexible work environment. Flexibility in the workplace is one of the best ways to improve employee wellness, as there’s now an increased focus on work-life balance. This can be incorporated into a wellness program through the use of unlimited PTO (paid time off), teleworking and flex work schedules. Flexible work schedules have been proven to reduce turnover rates and absenteeism, and increase productivity and job satisfaction.
Incorporating Community Involvement
Wellness programs don’t just have a positive effect on employees, they can also have a positive effect on the community surrounding the organization. A program that includes activities that serve the community could offer an extra incentive for employees to adopt healthier lifestyles, attitudes and ways of working. Activities, such as building a community garden to promote healthy eating habits or sponsoring walks for heart and cancer charities, can be effective components of a wellness program. Building healthier communities is a growing trend organizations will want to take advantage of, as it’s becoming more important to many people.