Mapping a Healthy Workplace

Sixty-two percent of respondents to the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index say the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but 58 percent say their workplace doesn’t offer one. So it’s no wonder companies are talking about them a lot these days.

A large part of the ROI that comes from instituting health and wellness programs is, obviously, healthier employees. Sixty-one percent of Aflac’s annual Workforces Report’s participants report they’ve made healthier choices and experience higher job satisfaction levels due to their companies’ wellness programs. And what goes hand-in-hand with healthier, happier employees, and improved productivity? Decreased overall health costs for their employers.

Net Costs of NOT Creating a Healthy Workplace

With the end of summer upon us, and the dreaded flu season just around the corner, the healthier you can keep your workforce, the better. Staples’ Sixth Annual Flu Season Survey uncovered some pretty alarming statistics on just how many people come to work sick, and the financial impact unhealthy employees can have on an organization. More than half are still coming to work sick because they feel there is too much going on at work to take a sick day.

“The flu is responsible for an estimated 70 million missed work days and billions of dollars in lost office productivity each year, so clearly businesses need to provide education and tools to keep workers healthy,” said Chris Correnti, vice president of Facility Solutions at Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples.

“It’s not just missed workdays that have a detrimental impact – 66 percent of respondents say presentism – going into work sick but not maintaining productivity – is worse for a business than an employee staying home, a sharp increase from 31 percent last year.”

Mapping a Healthy Workplace

Before you get started mapping a healthy workplace, you’ll want to take a long, hard look at your workplace culture, and focus on the objective that best suits your organization. UHA Health Insurance recently outlined three “first steps” that will help set you on the right path to a corporate health and wellness program:

Identify Your Priorities. “For example, if you have 30 employees, and only one person is a smoker, focusing on smoking cessation is unlikely to generate participation from the majority of the group. Choose the particular issues that are relevant and important to your team.”

Do Your Research: “Find credible sources of information to clarify the particular issue you intend to address, and learn everything relevant you can on the subject.”

Build Your Program: “Clearly identify the issue, why it’s a problem, and what concrete steps can be taken. For example, if you want to focus on healthy eating, guide your team through key steps to improve their food choices such as meal planning, taste tests, and reading food labels.”

Next, do a walk through, with a critical eye, of your grounds (if you have them) and your office space. Do your employees have access to natural light? If they don’t, are there areas outside where they can hold walking meetings and get some fresh air? If you have an open concept design, are there private spaces for those who need quiet, or who want to have small brainstorming sessions? Is there room for a standing desk or two? Is your breakroom stocked with healthy snacks? Do you even have a breakroom? (By the way, Staples Business Advantage can create water and beverage delivery solutions for businesses large or small, taking some of the hassle out of keeping kitchens and breakrooms well stocked.)

Ok, so you’ve narrowed down your focus, and taken a good hard look at your office environment, and made tweaks where possible. Now, let’s take a look at a few other things that will help you foster wellness at work.

Workplace Wellness

Wearables: I’ve written before about how much I love wearables. They’re small, simple, and relatively inexpensive, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy getting a present from their boss? With 44 percent of American workers already sporting fitness devices at work, implementing a fitness program in your organization is a small but significant step toward increased health and wellbeing, and can also encourage team building. Trackers can be linked to social wellness apps, and departments can compete against each other for monthly or quarterly rewards.

Eliminate Stress with the Right Technology: Stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization. How much does stress cost American business? Up to $300 billion a year. One way to help cut back on workplace stress is by ensuring your employees have the right tools and technology at hand to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Make sure, where security allows, you have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy in place, and access to Wi-Fi. This is especially important if you offer “work from home” or remote positions. Invest in the best collaboration apps and video conferencing systems to bridge the gap between remote employees. And that ease of collaboration and communication that comes with having up to date technology translates to your “in house” teams as well. Slack is a well-known business messaging app, and businesses using it have reported a 32 percent increase in productivity. Having top-notch project management systems in place will also help alleviate workplace stress, as well as boosting efficiency, time management, and accuracy.

Promote Employee Buy-In: It’s all well and good to have a workplace wellness policy in place, but if no one is using it…well…you know the rest. Give employees the time they need to stay healthy—in fact, make it a part of their workday if you can. Promote “Fitness Fridays” or “Bike to Work” days. Speak to your teams and find out what they would like to see as part of their program. Perhaps once a month coaching, or massage. You can even go as far as to provide discounts on health premiums, or “earned time off” bonuses based on monthly fitness output (steps walked, etc.). The key here is to let employees know that it’s not only ok to take a break for fitness, it’s a necessary part of their workday.

The bottom line is that the net cost of NOT creating a healthy workplace far outweighs the cost to build one. Having an established workplace wellness policy in place won’t just help you have happy, healthier employees as well as raised productivity, it will also serve as a gold-star incentive when you are actively recruiting. And that’s a win-win any way you look at it.

This post is sponsored by Staples Business Advantage.


Photo Credit: vlad_star Flickr via Compfight cc