Corporate Wellness: fad or future of health

The average person will spend around 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.  Whether we like it or not, unless we have specifically chosen a more holistic lifestyle, most of us have to contend with daily commutes, late nights, early mornings and hundreds if not thousands of meetings.
In the past, offices were places for us to sit at a computer and do our work.  Any sense of relaxation at work was seen as counterproductive or even lazy, and if you wanted to sneak in a gym session or a lunchtime walk you might have to schedule a ‘meeting’ so that nobody would think you were shirking your corporate responsibilities.
Although Johnson & Johnson introduced their ‘Live for Life’ initiative more than 40 years ago in 1979, corporate wellness wasn’t really accepted as necessary or even normal until much more recently, and although the US still boasts a larger percentage of companies offering wellness schemes than anywhere else, other countries are following suit.  A report from Harvard Business School showed that, for each dollar spent on wellness programs, company medical expenses per employee fell by $3.27.  Across the Atlantic, a German study showed that wellness initiatives reduce stress, boost productivity and increase employee engagement.
In 2021, corporate wellness programmes are seen as not just a ‘nice to have’, but an absolute necessity for a successful company with happy and productive employees.  But why is that the case and, as a company owner or Chief Executive, what should you consider when implementing your own Corporate Wellness Initiative?

A less stressed workforce

Back to back meetings, long working weeks and short deadlines can really take their toll on a person’s mental health.  Having to be ‘on’ all the time forces your body into a constantly stressed state, which can lead to poor sleep, anxiety and even burnout.  Taking just 30 minutes per day to meditate or exercise can generate endorphins, which make you feel happier and more energized.
Being encouraged by your company to take this time, rather than worrying about trying to fit yet another thing into an already packed schedule takes the pressure off, which makes for a less stressed workforce, which in turn means better productivity (you will also see more smiling faces around the place, meaning a more pleasant work environment for everyone.)

A more bonded workforce

Group exercise is so popular because people enjoy the sense of ‘being in it together’, sweating through tough parts and coming out the other side feeling full of energy and happier.  Working out with colleagues can create camaraderie, as people will have a chance to meet employees from other departments and even see a different or more human side of some of their fellow workers.
If your office doesn’t have space to bring in an outside trainer for an exercise class, you could look into company subsidised gym memberships.

Giving back

Many firms talk about ‘Giving Back’, but in many cases this means forcing employees to leave their homes at weekends to give up their own time for a community project or other good cause chosen by the company.  What if ‘Giving Back’ was instead a way for the company to show appreciation for its employees’ hard work?  People love to feel valued and, when they do, tend to give more back themselves, meaning that they will work harder and feel more loyal to the company.  Giving Back can take many forms, but could include a company gym, meditation room, a couple of scheduled hours each week for exercise or mindfulness, or even a massage therapist on site.

Higher profits

Yes, giving your employees a little time to pursue a healthier lifestyle can translate into more money for the firm.  Simply put, healthy staff have fewer sick days and incur fewer healthcare costs.
More of us are becoming interested in living healthier lives, which means that companies have to take wellness more seriously than ever.  Wellness means so much more than simply exercising; here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Keep a bowl of fruit in the pantry or cut vegetable sticks in the fridge for employees to snack on
  • Look into corporate gym memberships for your staff
  • Consider a contribution towards running/ exercise shoes
  • Provide a quiet room with no electronics for people to relax
  • Arrange talks about various aspects of health from local professionals
  • Provide refillable water bottles to encourage employees to stay hydrated
  • Lead by example; get the managers to encourage staff to take advantage of wellness time
Along with the positive changes listed above make sure you avoid these negative habits at work that can destroy your health:

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