Wellness in the workplace
Wellness in the workplace
Post written by Paragon Interiors   August 13, 2019

Mention the prospect of introducing a wellness programme to the office and employees may fear the worst – vending machines that dispense tofu and carrot sticks along with a soupçon of nuts and seeds (they’re fattening). Not a crisp or a choccie in sight. Or worse – takkies, tracksuits and torture.

Not quite. But this is a route that many forward-thinking companies are taking because multiple benefits accrue to both company and employees.

According to Top 500 South Africa, R15 billion was the annual cost to our economy for absenteeism in 2018. If this is your HR experience, there are proactive ways to reduce absenteeism and encourage a different culture based on a multi-faceted approach to health and wellness in the workplace.

Listen up. Here’s some (healthy) food for thought.

Successful corporate wellness programmes are the result of health-conscious employers who take a strategic approach to integrating wellness into the company structure, one that is holistic and encompasses physical, mental and emotional wellness for all employees.

Do we hear the collective groan that references costs?!

The relation of company size to budget can be managed so there’s a starting point for every organisation, be it in-house or outsourced. The idea is to use the allocated money efficiently because the pros far outweigh the cons and there are many success stories to testify to the advantages of wellness initiatives. Just think…

  • More productive, fulfilled, happy and healthy employees.
  • Less office stress and absenteeism.
  • Enhanced teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Reduced staff turnover.

Naturally, a business should start by reviewing the limits and incentives of contracted health plans that are already in place with private medical insurance companies.

The professionals in this industry highlight education as being key to employee buy-in and the ongoing success of the programme. Many employees lack the basic understanding and rationale behind a holistic wellness-based office culture. To glean their support and get them fully invested, they need to appreciate the bigger picture of their employer’s willingness to care for them on a broader scale in order to realise greater mutual benefits.

Some professionals suggest a business should consider starting with a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) to ascertain which health programme is needed the most, because being able to identify the personal lifestyle choices and practices of employees allows management to pinpoint the risk factors and respond accordingly.

The experts also advise involving employees in a basic survey after researching a list of initiatives their business is willing to offer and get employees to rank their preferences. Encouraging healthy choices will ultimately help employees manage their own critical health risk factors.

To build a wellness orientated environment and culture, take a leaf out of Google’s book who has an inhouse committee to conduct research and come up with unique ways to keep employees healthy. Getting employees to help teach and encourage one another is seriously empowering!

To plan for a healthier workforce, encourage a conscious mindfulness across all facilities and offerings, like:

  • Adaptable co-working spaces and pause areas that allow for harmony, peace and solitude.
  • Accessibility to healthy food and snacks.
  • Activities that focus on mindfulness, like yoga and meditation.
  • Educational events like wellness lectures on relevant topics such as nutrition, weight control, diet (and its correlation to cardio-vascular diseases) or how to handle depression, anxiety or conflict.
  • Health coaching using an on-site gym with a fulltime personal trainer or biokineticist for individual or class fitness exercise and pertinent advice.
  • Set fitness goals and get employees to compete for prizes and/or incentives. Fitbits or any wearable technology make great prizes!
  • An in-house nurse for day to day care and vital health screenings, to administer free flu vaccines or attend to medical emergencies and give family planning advice.
  • Offer flexible working hours that allow time for a work-out.
  • Have fun, active wellness adventures during lunch hour.
  • Introduce hobby clubs like knitting or books to promote connectedness.
  • Grow fruit and vegetables on site and create a farmers’ market that embraces good practice farming methods and supplies fresh food to company employees.
  • Outsource life coaches who can help individuals achieve their personal goals.
  • Offer Employment Assistance Plans.
  • Invite financial planners to assist employees achieve their money management goals.

All work and no play at the office is counterproductive. Those dedicated workhorses who consistently slog it out without a break are doing themselves and the company a grave disservice because fatigue and resentment are at odds with any business wellness initiative.

And finally, volunteering for community service ranks high on successful office wellness outcomes. Whether it’s done in small or large groups, any commitment to doing good or upliftment of any sort deserves time off. The pay-off lies in promoting emotional balance and perspective, a deeper sense of purpose and realising personal fulfilment.

A business health and wellness initiative should continue to evolve as a work in progress and be regarded as a long-term commitment to enhance workplace wellness. The overriding goal should be ‘to get employees into the right shape to do their best work’.

Sources:

Forbes.com / snacknation.com / recruiterbox.com