It is no secret that the U.S. population (and workforce) is experiencing a health and wellness crisis, with more than one-third of Americans suffering from obesity and nearly 86 million suffering from pre-diabetes (although only 10% are even aware of their condition). Besides physical health, mental health issues have also reached a critical level, with high levels of stress manifesting symptoms such as anger issues, sleeplessness, and anxiety. These issues often end up leading to decreased productivity, more employees calling out sick, and even leading to higher turnover rates.
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, promoting employee health and wellness not only makes for a healthier workforce, but it also makes good business sense. For employers, obesity and depression are the two leading drivers of healthcare-related costs. By encouraging employees to lead healthier lifestyles – and giving them the means and encouragement to do so – businesses can save not only on healthcare costs, but they can also increase employee productivity. Companies that promote a healthy workplace notice a positive change in the company’s work environment where employees feel good about coming into work each day. Resentful employees aren’t likely to remain focused and won’t perform at their best.
In fact, the research pertaining to how valuable employee health and wellness programs have become in today’s workplace is unequivocal, and this is reflected in the increase of formalized programs across the country. One of the good things about implementing such a program is that it is an inexpensive way to realize both short-term and especially long-term improvements to a company’s bottom line as well as to be a more responsible member of the corporate community.
For those companies that are looking to implement some sort of health and wellness program in their business, these are some simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive ideas that can be quickly implemented:
- Health Insurance Wellness Programs – For small businesses, in particular, many health insurance providers include health & wellness programs as a part of their plans. Check with your insurance provider to see what types of programs they offer and see how you can integrate those initiatives into your office culture.
- Gym Memberships for Employees – If you have a gym in your office building, a perk that you can offer to employees are free gym memberships. You can also likely negotiate a good deal with a gym if you purchase gym memberships in bulk for your employees.
- Fitness & Yoga Classes –Another option if you don’t have a gym in your building, is offering free fitness and yoga classes to employees, either before work, after work, or during lunch. All you need is a conference room or other large space.
- Start a Challenge – Anything from a walking challenge (which can be tracked by any number of fitness apps on employee’s phones) where the employee who walks the most steps during the week wins a prize, to signing up for a marathon that has the added bonus of helping a worthwhile charity.
- Healthier Snack Options – Instead of offering chips, cookies, and sodas in your employee lounge, you can offer fresh fruit, vegetables, and bottled water instead.
- Encourage Standing Instead of Sitting – The next time you are looking to purchase new desks and chairs, look into standing desks for your employees instead. Standing desks offer numerous health benefits, from lowering the risk of weight gain and obesity to reducing back pain.
- Implement “Walking Meetings” – Instead of hosting meetings while seated in an office or conference room (particularly smaller scale meetings), try holding meetings while taking a walk outside.
These are just a few of the many simple and cost-effective ideas to incorporate into your company’s health and wellness program for employees. They also offer much more than just a “cool” employee perk; they provide real benefits to both companies and employees by helping employees to improve their overall health and well-being so that they are in the best physical and mental shape to work. In the end, increased employee productivity will also improve a company’s bottom line.