How to Promote Health in the Workplace

Working for eight hours in front of a computer, five days a week can take a huge toll on employee physical and mental health. When maintaining your business, it is important to think about wellness in the workplace since health and efficiency have a clear relationship. Years of research has shown that employee wellness is linked to greater productivity, less absentee days, and a reduction of long-term health care costs. Other benefits and motivators include improving employee morale and employee retention.


One way you can instill personal health and well-being is by implementing a complete wellness program. This is any program or policy that aims to improve the health of your employees and their families while reducing your health-related costs as an employer. The most common and effective wellness programs emphasize focusing on preventive health and lifestyle modification. For example, this means encouraging employees to focus on key health behaviors such as increasing physical activity, improving eating habits, reducing stress, and ceasing unhealthy behaviors like tobacco use. The rationale is that encouraging healthy habits now can prevent or lower the risk of serious health conditions later. Similarly, adopting these same habits can help those with an existing health condition manage it. 


Some companies go further to promote wellness and implement programs consisting of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs, medical screenings, and extended vacation time. A complete wellness program is a great way to increase health, but if you don't have the resources to do so, there are still several ways you can provide your employees that show them you value their health. 


Here are five ideas to bring your company closer to wellness: 


1. Promote preventive care.

Remind employees to get their flu shots and wash their hands often! Encouraging and even funding vaccinations for employees has one of the clearest returns on investment.  When your employees avoid being sick, they avoid missing out on days, if not weeks, of work.


2. Encourage exercise and taking breaks.

Studies have shown that sitting at a chair for extended periods of time can lead to future health problems. Even on your busiest days, it's important to take a few minutes to step away and regroup. Refresh by going outside and taking a walk around your office building or calm yourself from a hectic day by simply sitting and meditating quietly for a few minutes.


3. Educate on the importance of healthy eating and drinking lots of water.

When you're hard at work it can be easy to just grab a bite from what's at hand. It is also easy to go several hours between meals. Times like this can cause your blood sugar to drop and lead you to grab the nearest fast food or sugary treat available. For optimum health and energy, make sure to keep healthy snacks at your desk and opt to eat something every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar steady and energy levels up the entire day. Also, staying well-hydrated is crucial to your productivity, energy levels and overall health. Water helps you stay alert and refreshed, and promotes clear thinking.


4. Be mindful of mental health.

Unmanaged stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep inconsistencies. At the workplace, it can lead to inefficiency, job dissatisfaction, as well as absence from work for related health conditions. If possible, consider offering an employee assistance program for employees who have financial troubles, excess stress, or depression symptoms. Another idea is educating how to manage stress properly and remembering that maintaining a healthy balance is key!


5. Invest in incentives.

To encourage participation, some employee incentive programs offer rewards, financial or otherwise, for employees who engage in healthy behavior. A growing trend is to cover an additional percentage of the cost of health insurance premiums or added vacation time for employees who pass certain biometric markers, such as having a healthy body mass index, blood pressure, or blood sugar reading. 


There are many more ways to implement workplace wellness and it is important to consider what your company can offer. Instilling wellness components in the workplace make a substantial contribution, not only to employee health but to a healthier bottom line of the company. From reducing the cost of healthcare, life and disability insurance to decreasing the number of days employees are absent, wellness programs have been exceeding expectations.