The World Health Organisation has identified the workplace as one of the priority settings for wellness and health promotion in the 21st century. Australian workers today are leading less active lifestyles, dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety and a blurring of the lines between work and home due to the proliferation of technology in our lives.
Many employers are focusing on employee wellness, realising that there are measurable benefits in doing so, specifically:
- Improved productivity due to decreased absenteeism and presenteeism (present at work but not fully functioning due to illness such as asthma, diabetes etc). A study conducted by accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers found that organisations committing to effective action to create a mentally healthy workplace can expect a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3. That is, for every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate action, there is on average $2.30 in benefits to the organisation.
- Employees are happier and more engaged – a reduction in conflict and stress and in turn a better work environment.
- Colds and flu are less of an issue in the workplace – which can lead to a reduction in sick days.
- Improved retention and recruiting of staff – in a survey conducted by Instinct and Reason, three quarters of surveyed employees said a healthy workplace was an important factor when finding a job.
- An employee wellness program is any initiative implemented by an employer to improve the health and wellbeing of its employees. Many of the employers I speak to are daunted by the prospect of implementing a Wellness program for their employees, imagining it will be time consuming and expensive, well, it doesn’t have to be. Employers can choose their own ‘wellness adventure’ so to speak and it can be as big or as small as the budget allows, and is only limited by their own creativity.
Here are some ideas to think about:
General Health and fitness
* Annual flu shots for those employees who wish to participate
* A ‘quiet space’ for meditation, reflection, resting or breaks
* Healthy eating choices for vending machines/ regular fruit deliveries
* Workplace ‘club lunch’ where employees bring a healthy dish to share at lunchtime
* Access to gym memberships, yoga classes or massages
* Provide bike racks so employees can ride to work
* Map out nearby walking routes
* Encourage staff to use the stairs instead of the lift (HR Central Head Office is on the 10th floor of the building and staff take breaks to go up the stairs through out the day. It takes 3 minutes and really helps with the afternoon slump and stops us eating lollies!)
* Encourage ‘walking meetings’ and let the fresh air inspire some fresh ideas.
* Purchase some standing desks
(HR Central CEO Damien Gooden uses his standing desk daily)
* Subsidise staff purchases of fitness equipment such as fitbits or running shoes – or buy them as incentive gifts/recognition rewards.
* Start a running club or enter a work team in a fun run. Last year HR Central ran in the Run Melbourne run – which is such a great team building exercise and made some people run for the first time. PLUS fun runs have levels to suit everyones fitness.
Social and community support
* Start a regular office book club or games night (these are fabulous team bonding exercises!).
* Shout your team tickets to a Comedy night.
* Host a fund- raising morning tea for a charity that means something to your employees.
* Give your staff a day of annual leave to volunteer.
* Host lunch time talks and seminars on topics of interest to your employees.
Mental Health initiatives
* Discourage employees from working excessive hours.
* Demonstrate good work/life balance as their manager, leading by example.
* Encourage employees to take regular breaks and annual leave.
* Provide employees with access to a psychologist or EAP service. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.
HR Central is experienced in the development and delivery of Employee wellness programs. For assistance contact us on 1300 717 721