Staying healthy and well is important. The importance of this in a workplace is no exception.
Employee health and wellness programs can be a very effective way to support, or even improve employee health and wellbeing. Employees who are trying to make healthier lifestyle choices – by choosing their food wisely and trying to exercise regularly for example – will want to work someplace where their lifestyle is supported, or better yet, facilitated through an employee wellness program.
A workplace culture sets the tone for its employees. A work environment that supports wellness and healthy behaviors brings benefits to the employer, the employee, and even the community. Healthy employees can save a business money in a myriad of ways such as decreasing absenteeism, increasing work morale, easier recruiting, and can even result in less turnover. It makes sense that if a person feels well, they will be more productive and effective.
Think about this for a moment as it relates to work: exercise boosts the release of endorphins, also known as the ‘happy’ hormone. A little bit of exercise during the day can make people feel better and a culture of health and wellness will have a positive contribution to a person’s mental and physical health in one way or another. Even a little walk during a lunch break, or some standing exercises a few times a day at a desk job, can have a positive effect on the brain and body!
Worksite health and wellness can range from simple and cheap (or even free!) programs and activities, to more complex things. There are tons of different things that a workplace can use to support employee health! Here are some examples, just to scratch the surface:
Smoking cessation programs;
-water bottle filler or fountain for staff use
Healthy snack shop in the breakroom or a fruit basket;
Company paid gym memberships;
Wellness challenges and healthy incentives for participation/winners;
On-site health screenings during the workday for employees that may not have insurance or enough -time off to get regular preventative care;
On-site fitness areas;
Promote healthy packed lunches vs. fast food lunches by offering an incentive;
Offering water during staff meetings;
Stress relief techniques and stretches posted on visuals throughout the workplace;
Announce a quick stretch break every hour for desk employees;
Providing items to help support good ergonomics for back/neck health (anti-fatigue mats, proper chairs, standing desks, laptop risers, etc.);
Start a walking club during breaks and so many more!
Before beginning any type of workplace health program, it’s always a good idea for an employer to gather some information beforehand to find out what employees would find beneficial. This could be as simple as a quick survey. Ideas for a worksite where most people are sitting at desks all day would not necessarily be the same ideas to use at a place where people are on their feet or traveling in a vehicle most of the day. To learn more about starting a health and wellness program for your worksite, visit the Better You, Better Ohio! website at: https://info.bwc.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/bwc/for-providers/medical-treatment-and-pharmacy-benefits/Health-and-wellness.
Juli Simpson, RN, BSN, LSN, is the Maternal & Child Health, Program Director at the Meigs County Health Department.