We’ve all come across staggering statistics revealing the impact of employee-wellness on the bottom line of every company. Over the last few years, increasing awareness on the need of workplace wellness has caused nearly 73% of companies to include wellness programs in their agenda. But how successful have these programs been? Despite ‘measurable results’, ‘gamified apps’ and all the other bells and whistles promised by wellness providers, has it really made an impact on the health, productivity and happiness of employees?
Recent statistics by HealthifyMe claims that truly successful programs, if implemented right, can increase an employee’s physical activity by 50%, decrease medical costs and absenteeism by 17%, and improve employee engagement by 59% on an average. The ITA Group has released a report revealing that 83% of corporate employees suffer from stress, contributing to mental or physical illness, decreasing productivity by 20% or more. For every dollar spent on promoting workplace wellness, there is an ROI of $6!
This being the case, here are some simple, holistic strategies for enhanced workplace wellness. The more of these we apply, better the vitality at the workplace! Whether you are an employer or employee, requesting for these changes at office can give the workplace a huge energy boost!
1) Air-quality indoors
Corporate employees spend 90% of time indoors. This has a massive impact on their mental and physical health. Human beings require plenty of fresh air and sunlight to thrive. Indoor air quality can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor, owing to a build-up of carbon dioxide, air-conditioning, humidification, toxic detergents and furnishing products etc. To make the workplace healthier and more cheerful:
• Include balconies, open work-spaces, operable windows and situate plants wherever possible.
• Ensure that the cleaning-staff use non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning agents
• Regular maintenance of air-conditioning and humidifying systems, which should ideally come with energy-star ratings.
• Encourage employees to take an outdoor walk during lunch hours or break-times.
2) Ergonomic Furniture
Musculoskeletal and orthopaedic disorders account for 70% of health issues at the workplace. Nearly everyone in a corporate setting experiences back or neck pain, knee pain, joint pains etc. which tremendously compromises the quality of life. This also has an impact on blood circulation, which can have negative effects on organ health. The importance of switching to ergonomic furniture cannot be stressed enough.
• Ensure that computer/laptop tables and chairs are ergonomically adjusted – so that the screen is at eye-level, and arm-rests are at the keyboard-level. Cushions should be used where necessary.
• ‘Active furniture’ can be facilitated – stability balls, standing-desks etc. can be arranged around the office for employees to use.
3) Mandate Movement!
The human anatomy is not made for constant sitting. We are built for movement. The more active we are, healthier and happier we will be!
• Incorporate a short walk around the office once every hour. It gives your over-stressed eyes a break, releases muscles and boosts circulation. Take the stairs whenever possible! Perform 20 squats every time you visit the rest-room! Think of creative ways to move!
• Stretch frequently
• Install play-booths such as table-tennis or gym-spaces in the office. This can be a great stress-buster too!
It is a well-known scientific fact that our environment can elevate or depress our mood and energy. Simple factors like colour palettes have a significant impact on brain-activity, mental and physical energy. For example:
• Colours like orange and red are proven to stimulate creativity, brain function, heart rate and blood pressure. These can be used on accent walls, paintings, cushions etc. to add a pop of energy to the workplace. Pale blue is known to increase focus and productivity. Green spaces are refreshing, relaxing and enable calm, controlled work.
• Designing the workplace to include a choice of spaces, each incorporating one of the above factors, can provide employees with a choice and a different setting for every type of work.
• Prevent over-crowding: Seating arrangements which jam people together can be suffocating and depressing
• Deploy good lighting – neither blindingly bright nor too dim
• Maintain a comfortable air temperature
• Noise control is important. Harsh noises should be avoided. Light music can release dopamine and trigger good work.
5) Access to Nutritious Food
This is one of the single most life-changing necessities to a healthy workplace. Good nourishment can increase productivity by 20%.
• Stack the pantry with fresh fruits, vegetable snacks such as cut carrots and celery in the fridge, green tea, a blender to quickly allow juicing instead of choosing coffee, protein shakes or bars etc.
• Run nutrition workshops to educate employees, and encourage healthy choices both in office and at home.
• Tie-up with external vendors who can supply employees with health lunches or food delivery options.
6) Structured Fitness Program
Fitness is the next big change you can gift employees with, for good health and wellness.
• Hire a fitness professional to visit your office and train those who can go for it
• Modulate an in-office gym, yoga studio or play-ground for sport activities
• Tie-up with studios or gyms to facilitate employee fitness outside office. Establishing discounts, building community fitness plans, having online follow-ups etc. can help.
7) Schedule Employee Check-Ups
Regular health screenings and follow-up consultations with medical professionals is extremely important. Whether the tests are conducted at office, or coupons are provided to employees for check-ups at their disposal, encouraging regular medical screenings and awareness is key to cutting long-term medical expenses and losing employees to health issues. This can fuel other workplace wellness programs and wake employees up to looming health problems at the right time.
8) Stress-management and Mental Health
Workplace wellness is incomplete without the mental health factor. Every person needs emotional support, and with people spending a major portion of their time at office, mental well-being at work cannot be ignored.
• Provide access to counsellors, online or offline
• Have weekly team discussions addressing work-stress and habits. Encourage sharing personal stories so colleagues truly get to understand and support each other. Turning co-workers into friends can make all the difference in work culture. Isolation causes depression, so make all-out efforts to create community-time!
• Encourage open one-on-one communication between colleagues, irrespective of hierarchy, to prevent work-related depression
• Arrange meditation classes, yoga sessions and other creative workshops such as art therapy to increase employee engagement
• Provide access to services such as child-care (on-site or off-site), life coaching etc. to help employees structure their lives. More the perks, better the access – happier your employees!
• Engage in charity projects as a community! Social work boosts happiness!
These are key tactics to sky-rocket workplace wellness. Create a better tomorrow, for every individual and for the company as a whole, by prioritizing workplace wellness!
By Sindhujaa Kumar, MD (A.M)