A mere seven percent of companies offer comprehensive employee wellness programs, according to Health Resources in Action. This is a woefully small representation — particularly when you consider the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) endorsement of workplace health programs as a means to reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism — described as “the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions, and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work.” Wondering where to begin to promote more activity among your employees? Consider these three tips which don’t just improve employee health, but boost productivity in the process.
1. Motivate Movement
According to Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levy, “The default has become to sit. We need the default to be standing.” Research increasingly shows the detrimental impact of cumulative, extended periods of sitting. Cancer, diabetes, and obesity are just a few of the health problems linked with sitting at a desk every day.
Even 10 minutes of daily walking does damage control while enhancing heart health. Encourage employees to take scheduled activity breaks and to exercise during the lunch hour. Additionally, standing meetings continue to gain traction — not just for their health benefits, but also because they maximize meeting time.
Standing desks are another increasingly popular technique for reducing the damage caused by sitting.
2. Set Them Up for Success
Investing in employee health has benefits for your bottom line — not just in terms of health care-related costs, but also by increasing employee engagement. By giving employees tools to succeed, you empower them to achieve their goals.
From on-site fitness classes to brown bag lunch seminars on the importance of physical fitness and other health initiatives, these programs offer critical support. Incentive programs — everything from gift cards to paid time off — further promote employee involvement.
Not only does your support go a long way, but so does establishing a community of fitness-minded employees. Harvard researchers have determined that a healthy social network is contagious. By encouraging employees to get moving, you increase the odds that other employees will do the same.
3. The Power of the People
Research shows that employees don’t just want to be handed things; they want to be involved in the decision-making process. Help increase engagement and promote a sense of accountability by inviting employees to form and join workplace wellness committees. Implementing their ideas and suggestions not only generate buy-in — both to the programs and to the company in general.
These three ideas don’t just encourage employees to be more active, but instead add up to a corporate culture where wellness is paramount. The result? Not only healthier employees, but happier ones, too. Your employees will thank you for it, and so will your bottom line.