Employee wellness programs have a high return on investment (ROI). The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that every dollar employers invest in wellness programs generates $6 in health care savings — but there's more to celebrate here than financial gains.
The Healthy Workplace: How To Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees — and Boost Your Company's Bottom Line, written by workplace design specialist and researcher Leigh Stringer, explores all the benefits of making workplaces healthier. Each chapter collects and presents up-to-date health research on the connection between productivity and workspace design, how practicing meditation and mindfulness can boost employee focus and efficiency, and more.
Stringer opens her book by analyzing where we are now, and it's not a pretty place. American workers are struggling with obesity, multiple physical ailments, such as musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs), and mental health concerns — all of which have contributed to skyrocketing health care costs, more absenteeism and decreased employee engagement and productivity. Gallup estimates that a jaw-dropping 87 percent of the world's employees are not engaged in their work.
Employers can do more to help employees by understanding the components of employee health and changing workspaces to better accommodate them (and save money in the process), the book suggests. Consider Stringer's five elements of employee wellness below. Think about how you're focusing on them in your business. Could you be doing more for your employees' wellness?
1. Rest and Sleep
People need seven to eight hours per day of rest or sleep to function at their best. Overworked, under-rested employees are often less efficient, more stressed and less engaged.
Stringer believes that "we are what we eat," but that workplaces often promote bad eating habits. She says 70 percent of Americans are overweight and believes that poor dietary habits impact employee energy and productivity.
3. Activity and Exercise
Since so many Americans do sedentary "knowledge work," many don't get enough activity, the book explains.
4. Stress Management
Employees simply aren't trained or supported in how to manage workplace stress. Stringer explains exactly what triggers stress (a lack of employee control over what they do and how they do it) and how stress works within the body and mind.
5. Work Environment
Stringer offers research to illustrate that we can and must adjust physical workplaces to better accommodate the health needs of employees. For example, have you ever considered encouraging your employees to get up and stretch every couple of hours, learning and teaching a few breathing exercises or adding a few plants to your decor? These small changes could have a big impact.
If you've never given workplace health much thought, "The Healthy Workplace" is a great place to start. Stringer provides cost-effective, actionable suggestions that can help both your employees — and your business.
Want more tips to help you create a healthier workplace? Discover how creating a positive work culture and improving office design can help promote employee health, productivity and engagement.
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