Workplace Wellness. Is this latest fad or is this something that organizations have foolishly been ignoring? I guess that you already know what I think. But let’s take a look at some of the facts. For instance, one 2012 review of 62 studies, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found 25 percent lower sick leave, health plan, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance costs among companies that had wellness programs. Moreover, wellness consulting company Wellness Proposals says that companies who have implemented wellness programs have noticed different benefits such as increased productivity, higher retention, and happier employees. They also have a great example to share. For instance, after implementing a fitness program in which only 60% of the employees participated, Coca-Cola was able to save $500 per employee every year.
According to Transamerica Center of Health Studies, Workplace health promotion programs are efforts put forth by employers to improve the health of employees. These efforts generally fall into three categories: prevention to prevent illness or disease from occurring (e.g., anti-smoking campaigns), prevention directed at high-risk individuals (e.g., weight loss groups), and prevention, also known as disease management, for those with an existing condition (e.g., therapy for people).
So what can organizations do to promote workplace wellness?
Well, there are so many things that you can do, starting from organizing walking-meetings, creating a smartwatch challenge, replacing regular office furniture with fitness equipment, start a Well Step campaigns, etc.
But there are also great stories available that organizations have done. So let’s take Zappos for instance. Zappos is an online retailer of clothing, footwear, and accessories that have been recognized by Fortune as one of the top 100 best businesses to work. They created an initiative called Wellness Adventures during which their wellness coordinator takes small groups of employees from different departments to an offsite location for the opportunity to do something fun together away from work. Whether it’s a sports lesson, a rousing game of laser tag or jumping around on a trampoline, the focus is on making wellness fun. Another thing that they do is March Madness – a company-organized three-on-three basketball game. Held in Zappos’ corporate outdoor plaza, people from all departments can come to enjoy the game. Recess Tuesdays is another initiative where their wellness coordinator puts out playground toys on the plaza to see what will happen. Employees will come outside in their own time, play games and generally have a great time staying active in fun ways.
Chevron, American multinational energy corporation offers a variety of programs to help their employees to find the best way to lead a more active lifestyle. One program that they have is called Health Rewards that is aimed at employees who exercise – when they exercise they will earn points and with those points, they can qualify for a Wellness Credit. Another program that they have (and what is actually connected with Health Rewards program) is Health Trail challenge, where participants can earn “miles” by walking at least 7,000 steps, sleeping at least 7 hours, consuming at least 5 servings of produce, and answering to the daily tip test. Health Trail actually has another purpose: every 20 miles earned will be turned into a life-saving food packet and donated to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. They do encourage their people to go social and use #HealthTrailsforgood when sharing success with others. But there is more than Chevron does, for instance, they have onsite Fitness Centers, they offer Healthy Heart Program, they do Exercise Audiocasts, and have an online Healthwise Health Encyclopedia.
At ISS Estonia (a leading global provider of facility services) we celebrate Wellness Tuesdays (Tervise teisipäev in Estonian) to promote employees healthy lifestyle especially among office employees who otherwise would be sitting most of the day. So every other Tuesday our HSE Specialist organizes a simple 5-minute workout in HQ hallway area and sends a reminding e-mail to the mailing list about some health or fitness topics (e.g. how to exercise your eyes, what is the right way to wash your hands, the importance of different vitamins, etc). We encourage healthy snacks, so therefore instead of having sweets or cakes, our Office Manager prepares fruit plates. Additionally to Wellness Tuesdays, we do other things, such as compensate partly for our people’s sports activities (e.g. monthly sport club fees, participation in public sports events or similar) or for therapy of our employees who have reduced work capacity.
Do you do Wellness Programs in your organization? Share your story, leave your comment!
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