Choosing Tools to Promote a Culture of Wellness

Have you made promoting a culture of wellness a top priority in your workplace?  Well, I have to tell you, you’re on the right track—and others would do well to follow your example. Why? Because placing emphasis on workplace wellness is one of the most effective ways employers can help boost employee productivity, reduce absenteeism, and control healthcare costs. And it makes sense for your employees too, since they’ll be the direct beneficiaries of a workplace program that staves off sickness and helps build better long-term health and wellbeing.

Making workplace wellness a priority is the place to start, but having the right tools to support your employees is also really important. According to Morella Devost, founder of holistic health website Transformation One, there are 11 keys to creating a culture of wellness, and having the tools to facilitate your wellness initiative is one of them. Tools can encompass elements such as gym equipment, fitness trackers, and health assessments, as well as various communication platforms like newsletters, bulletin boards, health websites, recipe sharing, and more. These tools are not a program in and of themselves but are essential elements in supporting your workplace wellness program.

Workplace Tech

You also have the category of workplace tech, with wellness technology, showcased by those wearables that are all the rage, including fitness trackers, smart watches, and heart rate monitors. What’s not to love? And, in addition to the basic functionalities of wearable fitness trackers, which aid in setting personal goals—i.e., tracking the number of steps or flights of stairs—these tools can provide workplaces with a way to monitor group goals or even set up friendly interoffice competitions.

Fitbit, the leading name in fitness trackers, offers your employees easy-to-use software and services for planning, tracking, executing, and managing a group health program. Employees motivate, inspire, and encourage each other by participating in group programs, making it more likely they’ll continue working toward their fitness goals. In fact, Fitbit data shows that users tracking their activity with one or more friends are 27 percent more active than those going it alone.

These days many organizations committed to forging a culture of wellness are buying or subsidizing the purchase of fitness trackers for their employees, citing the return on investment they realize through higher productivity and lower absenteeism, which often more than offsets the cost of the devices.

On-Site Gyms and Other Options

We see another trend that supports workplace wellness in the increase in corporate fitness centers. But as Forbes points out, following the trend without having a strategy to support it is an exercise in futility. Having a qualified staff run the fitness center, as well as maintaining ongoing fitness programming and initiatives that bolster such use are among the key elements that will make the significant investment in a fitness center pay off.

For those companies without the budget to put in a fitness center, there are many cost-effective alternatives. You can invest in fitness tools like yoga mats, exercise balls, and other non-tech fitness products as a way to encourage your employees to integrate physical fitness throughout their day.

Promoting Physical Comfort

While physical fitness is important to workplace wellness, physical comfort is another component. According to Staples Business Advantage’s second annual Workplace Index Survey, a majority of respondents (employers and staff) agree that ergonomic and functional furniture is a significant factor contributing to higher productivity. Providing furniture that helps improve posture and ensure employees’ comfort throughout the workday is a substantial step to take in support your organization’s dedication to wellness.

Workplace design is another important element to promoting health and workplace wellness. Spaces that encourage walking and movement, proper task lighting, adequate noise masking, and good airflow are essential components in making an office more productive—and healthier.

Promoting a Positive Outlook

And what about job satisfaction? It turns out, to no one’s surprise, that workplace wellness also ties into the importance of job satisfaction as a means of helping employees have a positive outlook on work and life. Again, technology is necessary here. According to the Staples Business Advantage survey, respondents identified inadequate technology as one of the top three causes of lower productivity and reduced job satisfaction. Conversely, the most productive and satisfied employees are those who have access to the latest technology such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

However, technology can be a dual-edged sword. We’re finding it difficult to disconnect from our jobs because of technology that is driving an “always-on” work culture. That has led to the majority of workers—53 percent—feeling overworked and burnt out. This inability to easily disconnect from our tech also underscores the importance of promoting a workplace culture of wellness that considers not only the “big things” but the “little things” as well. Yes, onsite gyms are nice—many employees find this to be a great perk—but they’re also looking for other amenities as well (a well-stocked break room, for instance).

So, while tools are important, don’t overlook the importance of personal connections—employees motivating other employees and managers modeling healthy behavior for employees to emulate.

A healthy, more productive staff is the ultimate goal of a workplace wellness program. Make sure the tools—and your people—support the program to achieve a better culture of wellness for everyone in your organization.

This post is sponsored by Staples Business Advantage.

Photo Credit: oGGa The Idea Provider Flickr via Compfight cc

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