14 Ways to Create a Workplace Culture of Wellness
Creating a culture of wellness does not have to involve huge costs or complicated programs.
A culture of wellness is an overall viewpoint in the workplace that focuses on human resources, your workers, as your most valuable asset. By encouraging and supporting healthy behaviors, employers protect and strengthen their employees, leading to increases in morale, reducing absenteeism and presenteeism, increasing productivity, reducing health benefit costs, and reducing turnover.
There are a number of steps that companies can take to show they value the health and wellness of their employees without the need for consultants and complicated turn key wellness programs.
1. Team Challenges
Challenges can help team members to connect with each other, have fun, and achieve their health and fitness goals at the same time. Challenges do not need to be complex or difficult. The goal is to encourage healthy habits while promoting friendly competition. One challenge idea would be to provide a pedometer for each employee create a challenge around how many steps they take each day. Set a goal for minimum steps per day as well as team targets and rewards. Consider individual and department rewards or incentives for those with the highest number of steps at the end of the challenge period. Rewards could be an extra day off, a small cash bonus, or something as simple as bragging rights with a certificate and a mention in the company newsletter. Another idea might be to incorporate a walking challenge into fundraising for a local charity. A run/walk event can benefit both the charity financially and your company with publicity while increasing the health of your employees.
It seems over simple but there are a number of benefits to keeping indoor plants, and they're a cost-effective and fast-to-implement option for workplace well-being. Ditch the fake plants and bring a bit of nature into the workplace by having pot plants dotted around the workplace. Choose low maintenance varieties that can be left happily without water each weekend. Consider giving departments some input into what plants are selected to add another layer of emotional benefit to the plants and to ensure the employees in each department help take care of the plants.
Playing is not only for kids; it's also important for adults. It brings joy and is vital for both problem solving and creativity. Play is also a very effective tool for stress reduction. To incorporate play into the workplace, allocate an area for a table tennis table, dart board, or a foosball table. This can enable employees to have a proper mental rest during break times and can form part of a fun space for organized social activities.
4. Healthy snacks
Nutritious food is crucial for concentration, energy levels, and productivity. Employees who value their health will often come prepared with their own healthy meals and snacks. However, sometimes planning falls by the wayside, even for the most organized people. Other employees may lack the knowledge or skills for making healthy choices and will really benefit from a little help.
Ditch the sugar filled vending machines and provide healthy snacks for the workplace. Consider getting a weekly fruit box delivery each Monday instead of providing cookies or other snacks that can adversely affect blood sugar levels and overall health. Prepackaged vegetable snacks such as celery with a small amount of peanut butter are also commercially available at fairly low cost and make great alternatives to a vending machine full of chocolate.
5. Water Filter
Closely tied to the previous point, hydration is crucial to performance in the workplace. Even mild levels of dehydration can produce disruptions in both mood and cognitive functioning.
Many municipal water supplies have problems in maintaining high quality drinking water. Take a proactive approach and show your employees that you are thinking about their well being. Make it easy for them to drink clean, healthy water by investing in high quality water filters. If filters for all drinking fountains are not possible, consider providing self-filtering water reusable water bottles to employees. In addition to caring for their health, consider holding a reduce/recycle environmental event to push using reusable bottles instead of disposable plastic bottled water containers.
6. Lock Out Lunchtimes
Many employees need a little help with their own healthy work habits. Some will voluntarily choose to work through lunch breaks to catch up on tasks. Others face heavy pressure from their managers to stay at their desks, particularly hourly employees in a department with many salary employees. Or maybe they're tempted to stay at their desk over lunch time so that they can catch up on the latest in their social media feeds.
All employees need regular breaks away from their desk and computer screens in order to continue their day in a healthy and productive way. (Learn more in "Breaks During Work Are Necessary for Employee Well-Being and Work Performance".) Consider locking everyone out out lunchtime, even if it's only once a week. This way everyone can get a change of scenery and some fresh air and look forward to a great afternoon ahead. The company policy of not skipping lunch or spending lunch at their desks will also give employees being pressured by managers a bit of support in maintaining healthy habits and reinforce the idea of supporting lunch breaks to any overreaching managers.
7. Practitioner Services
A number of different health and wellness practitioners are available to bring their services into the workplace. Massage is often a favorite, and a much desired option for office workers. Consider offering a free 15 minute massage for each employee each week, or each month, depending on your budget. This would not be a full massage, but a neck and shoulders massage or even just a hand massage in the case of those with heavy keyboard use.
Alternatively, employees are often willing to pay for a service like this themselves. As the employer you simply need to be willing to allow them to enjoy a short massage during work hours. Mobile massage can offer both a time and cost effective option because employers don't need to leave the building, and mobile massage therapists will offer short time slots to work within departmental schedules.
8. Wellness Talks
Many health and wellness experts offer workplace talks. Consider having a wellness slot in your workplace calendar at the start of every month to cover a variety of wellness topics. Speakers should be able to work with your team to speak about topics that benefit everyone without making them feel as though they are being berated or talked down to. Consider providing healthy sack lunches for these events if they are held during lunch time. (Learn more in "8 Tips for a Successful Company Health Fair".)
9. Active Social Activities
Instead of employees going to the local bar after work, think of an active activity that everyone will enjoy. Get employees to brainstorm ideas, or try active things like bowling or paintball. Encourage employees to talk with other employees and make friends. Social bonds within the work place can be a large source of emotional support and increase worker morale. Consider sponsoring employee bowling leagues or softball teams.
Health and wellness posters are a simple and cost effective way to show your employees that their health is important to the company while still offering guidance and tips. Choose from motivational posters that fit your workplace vision and values and nutrition education posters as well.
11. Ergonomic Workstations/Standing Desks
As an employer, you need to understand the areas of ergonomics that are important for worker health. (Learn more in "8 Key Areas of Ergonomics Employers Must Consider".) Consider options for sit-stand desks and ergonomic office chairs. (Learn more in "Ergonomics: Everything You Need to Know About Office Chairs".) Investing in an ergonomic study of your workplace can also provide valuable insights into ways to make work healthier for your employees.
12. Chill Space
Another idea to help employees take a break away from their desk is to offer a nap room, or perhaps some bean bags in a quiet corner. A quick power nap can help them to recharge and continue their day in a productive way. Setting aside a specific place for relaxing can also help employees feel comfortable in relaxing during their breaks, and to actually take their break times.
Make your workplace a more vibrant place to be by playing music in the background, or put an uplifting song on at the start of each day to help inspire and energize everyone. Not everyone will have the same taste in music, so try to provide a mix of music types and keep the volume at a non-intrusive level. While music generally has a positive effect on mood, if it is too loud it can become noise pollution on its own.
14. Feedback Forms and Survey
Your employees should play an active role in creating a culture of wellness within the workplace. Try a suggestion box, put out satisfaction questionnaires, employee needs surveys, or have regular brainstorming sessions about how to make your workplace a fun, healthy and happy place to be. When employees feel they have had a say in creating company policies and programs, they are more emotionally invested in seeing those programs and policies succeed.
Creating a healthy culture is a way of thinking rather than one single project. However, these types of projects do not have to be isolated. Consider incorporating these steps within your full workplace wellness program. (Learn more in "7 Steps for Implementing a Workplace Wellness Program".)