How to foster a culture of wellness with (almost) no cost and get big savings
Why it is important?
The increasing health cost affects not only American companies but also in other countries health is on the decline. Despite efforts being done, the increase of health cost is expected to be around 7% per year over the next few years. In America 3.1 Trillion have been spent in 2014 on health, the average cost per employee per year of absenteeism alone is around 3600$. This is excluding all other indirectly related cost such as low productivity and presentism, but also high staff turnover and loss in revenue.
Obesity, Smoking and alcohol seem to be the obvious contributing factors and many companies offer programs to educate employees about dangers and offer (smoke, alcohol and weight) cessation programs, health monitoring, gym and obesity management programs, incentive programs. Many of these programs have been successfully implemented at Top companies but there are so many additional steps an employer can take which pay off in the long run, and some are not costing that much.
What can you do?
The employees’ Physical health can be improved by fostering healthy habits. For medium sized to large companies with a canteen, only healthy and nutrient rich food should be on offer. Minimum processed food with maximum of fresh vegetables. No Sugar or refined grains, no sodas and sweetened beverages, less meat. A wholesome nutrition will give the employees what is needed for staying focused all day and prevent them of eating empty calories, and getting sick. And with a balanced nutrition, obesity can be assisted even without doing a weight management program
Often forgotten, a good breakfast gives energy and helps productivity. So why not offer a breakfast in your canteen or simply at work. Even a fruit basket, a few (unsweetened natural) yoghurts in the fridge and a fruit salad with some seeds or nuts will kick off the day and provide a good dose of some Vitamins and other essential nutrients.
Provide little healthy snacks and herbal teas for keeping your employees revved up during the day
If you don’t have a canteen then a lunch voucher or discount at a “health takeaway or delivery restaurant” may give your employees the incentive to choose a salad over a hamburger.
Additionally you can help your employees by implementing a wellness and nutrition program to teach them how to cook healthy meals at home without spending more time. Also you may want to consider helping your employees’ family members to live a healthy lifestyle. It will help your employees to keep up the good work and account for less time spent on sick family members and decrease further absenteeism and increase productivity.
Many employers offer a fitness program or a gym membership but if you do not want to go this route a few easy ways will produce some effects.
Offer some lunch activities, such as a walk in a nearby park. Have only one centralized copy machine, people will have to get up more often and you will save in printer cost and probably paper. Organize walking meetings. Standing desks are easy to do (you can just get a top for your office desk). Have all sign up to some of the fitness apps and have a competition for the most steps done per month. Encourage your employees to travel by bicycle or public transport and walk. Allow them to come in 30 minutes later (they will make it up as they will be more focused after their exercise). And ideally offer some form of exercise, a yoga program and incentive programs for healthy habits.
Ideally we all should have a minimum of 30 minutes per day of physical activity but already 15 minutes will produce some great health benefits. Try to vary your activity between strength, aerobic and stretching exercises. One day a fast walk, some bicycle or a run, another day some exercises (check out body-weight exercises which you can do anywhere without material) and yoga on the third day would be a great start. Repeat.
A balanced and regular exercise program will lead to a better health, improve longevity, minimize risk of cardiovascular diseases, assist with weight loss and lead to overall happiness and health, less sickness and higher productivity.
A happy work culture will go a long way and help your staff of being less sick and more productive. High attrition rates are found in offices which support in many ways a good work culture and mindfulness among staff.
A few things which are easy to implement: From the top to the bottom cultivate respect, compassion, giving and mindfulness. Little meditation has shown a huge impact but not all are into meditation and already with deep breathing exercises (with closed eyes), you can calm your mind and be in the present for improved focus. Why not try this at your next meeting for 1 minute.
Encourage employees to practice gratefulness towards each other. You could ask all employees to write a little note to a coworker to thank for a specific thing or even say so. Establish a little giving to the poor action where employees can bring unwanted items for a shelter of your choice.
All these actions produce long-lasting happiness and promote good health. If you are interested, you can find more and many useful exercises on http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/. Organize some fun activities to provide more social belonging to your employees.
The most important is to encourage a positive work culture from the top to the bottom. Management and some wellness champions may encourage the rest of your team. If you are interested to explore more options, feel free to contact Wellness Methods.
By: Andrea Caprio
Holistic Nutrition and Wellness coach