Get With the Program! Wellness Plans in the Workplace

Get With the Program! Wellness Plans in the Workplace

Posted by Human Solution on Apr 18th 2013

Wellness in the workplace is an important issue. To some companies, employee wellness may seem like a private concern or a cosmetic perk reserved for trendy Fortune 500 companies ...or hippies living on a commune. But the reality is, if a workplace does not maintain a functional level of physical and emotional wellness, the office will not be as productive as it could be, and will likely see a higher turnover rate.

Effective wellness programs should be tailored to address issues relevant to that specific workplace. For example, an IT department's wellness program might be geared to combat sedentary work issues. For non-profit and governmental organizations that work with trauma (health care providers, law enforcement officials, mental health practitioners), wellness programs might be centered around preventing secondary trauma, which can be a very serious issue for people helping victims of trauma (for more helpful information about secondary trauma's occurrence in service providers, see this publication from The University of Iowa). No matter what kind of organization, how large or small your staff, whether you work from home or in a cubicle-filled office space, in hard labor or behind a desk all day, there will be aspects of your job that can affect your mental or physical health. Wellness programs can address these issues and bring about positive change.

We highly recommend organizations be proactive in facilitating wellness, creating wellness and team-building programs that boost morale and promote healthy work habits. It's an investment in your employees' quality of life, and it's also investment in the productivity of the company. (See this article on the fiscal benefits of wellness programs). Below is a list of wellness program ideas you might bring to your own workplace culture:

1. Participate in a local race for a charity where people can choose to walk, jog, or run a reasonable distance.

2. Ask interested employees to start a wellness committee that hosts seminars or hour-long activities themed around issues relevant to staff. This might sound cheesy, but I've participated in this kind of program, and it's actually very effective, when the employees on the committee are interested and invested in the effort.

3. Have challenges in the office tracking personal fitness goals (in a way that is fun, non-invasive, and without pressure). Pedometer contests, or contests that track stair climbs are possible options.

4. Give employees work-spaces that are sit-stand adjustable. Adjustable height desks are fantastic liberators from the stagnant 8 hour sitting day.

5. Have a photo sharing contest of staff members trying different physical activities -- this can in particular help include remote/telecommuter staff members.

6. Have some kind of way for employees to recognize each other in the work they are doing. We have one here, where we can give each other "bacon" via a form online. We then have a contest to see who can win the most! This facilitates gratitude among co-workers, and is a positive incentive for everyone to help each other.

7. Have a common folder where staff can share personal tips -- regarding whatever topic is most helpful to your workplace. It can be related to work strategies, or healthy lifestyles, it can be a way to facilitate camaraderie and self-improvement.

Here at Human Solution and in my volunteering work on my own time, I have been lucky to be involved with companies that truly care about employee wellness. I know from experience how these programs are appreciated by employees, how they foster positive work ethic, and help an organization improve their work overall.

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