Promoting Health and Wellness in the Work Environment

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A sedentary and uninspired work life can be hazardous to an employee’s health. How can this issue be fixed so employees are more productive and can live a healthy lifestyle? Implementing and promoting health and wellness is not just an investment in the employees, it benefits the employers as well. Utilizing a workplace wellness program inhibits absenteeism and presenteeism while promoting productivity and retention.

Evaluate Employee Health Risks

According to research done by the RAND Corporation for the US Department of Labor, 80% of employers implementing a wellness program screen their employees through Health Risk Assessments, questionnaires, and physicals to discover prevalent issues. With this information, they can create personalized preventative plans that are much more effective than generalized education and information.

Plans include primary prevention for employees with risk factors leading to chronic diseases. Also included is secondary prevention, used to improve disease control among employees with manifest chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, or diabetes. Preventative care offered by employers reduces reactionary assistance (ex: health insurance, surgery, etc.), and therefore, reduces health costs of each employee.

Provide Healthy Snacks

Remove the temptation. If there are sodas and candy in the vending machine, or donuts for breakfast, employees are forced to bring in their own healthy food or succumb to an unhealthy diet. Employers can discuss the benefits of healthy eating with employees as well as create a survey to identify their favorite options.

Replacing soda with water, and candy with granola bars helps promote a healthy work environment by reducing available junk food options. Open communication with employees about the change, and education regarding healthy substitutes for the usual snacks helps ease the transition while developing a like-minded environment dedicated to health and wellness.

Paid Fitness Memberships

Rewards, incentives, and benefits are great techniques to increase motivation in the workplace. These techniques can also promote health and wellness by providing benefits such as a gym, spa, or yoga membership. Amenities such as an on-site gym give employees the opportunity to exercise more frequently and together, creating a strong work environment. Offering group classes that help educate workers on the benefits of exercise and diet before or after work give them an incentive to be at work as well as enjoy it.

Companies such as Google offer on-site gyms while others, like Microsoft, provide funding for their employees to attend full-service gyms. Physical wellness correlates with productivity, and offering benefits such as fitness memberships will result in employee retention.

Access to Nurse Advice Lines, and Office Ergonomics

In association with team wellness development, more personal options are beneficial as well. Employees can benefit from access to 24/7 nurse advice lines for private health questions, concerns, and help. Nurse advice lines are a convenient method of private communication via phone or internet with a health professional about symptoms, diseases, and illnesses. This way, an employer’s workplace wellness program is offering options at a general and private level.

Implementing ergonomics helps fit the job to the worker. The simple definition of “workplace ergonomics is the science that deals with designing and arranging the workplace environment so that people can it them easily and safely.” Identifying the best chairs, desks, lighting, colors, and layout to use substantially benefits employees as it appeals directly to their safety and comfort.

Benefits of a Healthy Work Environment

With these extra investments into an employee’s wellness, employers may wonder where their incentive is. If they truly provide a healthy work environment, they can look forward to multiple benefits.

–  Less absenteeism: Fitness and a healthy work environment can lead to employees missing 18%-32% fewer workdays, according to RAND research.

–  Save on health insurance: While it shouldn’t be an employer’s primary reason to utilize a workplace wellness program, most companies see a decrease in health costs and payouts for their employees.

–  Promote employee satisfaction: Consistent employee reviews and surveys show that wellness programs increase satisfaction in the workplace. This includes better teamwork, communication, and fosters greater job position effectiveness.

–  Greater job retention: Recruiting new employees is time consuming and expensive, ergo retaining the same employees is beneficial to the company. If they treat their employees well by offering benefits and a comprehensive wellness program, they will have more incentive to stay.

–  Improve productivity: Sponsoring employee health directly correlates with increased productivity. Workers will work harder if they are healthy and enjoy the work environment that surrounds them.

Understanding human behavior is more than the basis of psychology – it is an essential component of virtually every business and organization. The USC online Master of Science in Applied Psychology prepares professionals to excel in the fields of consumer and organizational psychology.


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