3 Ways to Incorporate Wellness at Work

The ancient Romans knew their stuff: A healthy mind in a healthy body is key to a productive, happy life. These three strategies will help you achieve it in your workplace.

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Employees have plenty of expectations thrust upon them. They need to perform their tasks diligently, collaborate effectively, meet quarterly goals, treat colleagues with respect, and — perhaps most important of all — provide engaging customer experiences.

The Temkin Group research firm has found a link between employee engagement and successful customer experiences. To create engaged customers, it seems, employees must first be happy and engaged themselves.

How can workers meet all these demands and create connections with customers if they aren’t taking care of themselves?

As it turns out, they can’t.

Burnout is at record-high levels across industries, with employees reporting ever-increasing stress. However, companies can improve morale by incentivizing team members to take personal wellness seriously. In fact, some businesses have had such success at incorporating healthy practices into their workforce that their culture revolves around well-being.

Take Health Catalyst, for instance: the company enjoys an impressive 84% participation in its innovative Get Fit Stay Fit Challenge. Thanks to executives’ willingness to think outside of the box, Health Catalyst’s workforce has more motivation, is getting better sleep, and is physically more active.

And rewards extend beyond happier employees. Research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests that employers may see up to a three-to-one return for every dollar spent on employee health. In other words, putting $1,000 toward, say, a gamified fitness app could result in the equivalent of a $3,000 payback.

Of course, merely offering healthy habit programs doesn’t make them successful. Health Catalyst’s participation rate is an anomaly. A study published in Rand Health Quarterly suggests that 20%-40% participation in workplace wellness programs is more realistic.

Still, any time you can get your workers feeling better mentally and physically, everyone reaps the benefits. Use these three strategies to boost employee well-being in your workplace.

1. Promote wellness-related experiences.

From lunch-hour cooking classes to seasonal flu shots, corporate wellness experiences promote teamwork and smart behaviors. They can also get your company noticed by top talent actively seeking employment at a place that does more than talk the talk.

There’s no need to spend a fortune designing an onsite gym or even dragging in a ping-pong table, though. Instead, consider what experiences or activities are a good fit for your team and your budget. For instance, Asana provides nap rooms, Google promotes onsite healthcare visits, and Microsoft covers employee gym memberships. Of course, if you do have some pennies to put toward a more robust wellness plan, you might follow in the footsteps of SAS, which relieves stress for working parents by providing discounted onsite daycare. The key is to offer your workers as many opportunities to improve their well-being as possible.

2. Encourage behavioral changes.

Everyone munching on chips all day? It’s time to make changes. For instance, if your break room vending machine is filled with high-fat, high-sugar snacks, load it with healthier options. Then consider other ways you can improve the overall nutritional and health habits of your workforce. You could take a page from Retail IT’s book and add a workplace fruit bowl or encourage your team to stay hydrated by giving everyone a refillable water bottle emblazoned with your company logo. (Bonus: You’ll reduce plastic waste at the same time.)

By making it easier for people to choose smarter alternatives rather than do what they’ve always done, you’ll cause a chain reaction. Peers tend to imitate others’ choices, so if their office mates are staying hydrated and noshing on baby carrots, most employees will do likewise. Over time, you might want to take dietary wellness to the next plateau by holding a healthy lifestyle cook-off, bringing in a local chef to teach cooking hacks, or offering rewards for those who practice “meatless Mondays.”

3. Get your team moving.

Far too many workers plop themselves down at their desks, never to move again for hours. Not only does this lead to mental stasis, but it can have ill effects on the circulatory and other systems. Jason McCann, founder and CEO of active workspace company Varidesk, promotes walking meetings to get people out and about. “By livening up meetings with a little oxygen and some much-needed activity right there in your office, you’ll soon see the creativity start to flow more readily,” he says.

The bottom line? Get people to stand up, whether they’re taking a phone call or working on a document. Even standing or walking meetings can take the bite out of the ennui so common among corporate gatherers. Just a slight cardiovascular bump breaks up the day.

Look around your workplace. Are people hustling and bustling, standing and moving? If not, now is the time to get some blood-pumping, creativity-fostering wellness started. By keeping the goal of healthy, engaged employees at the forefront, you’ll reap the benefits of engaged customers as well.

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