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.

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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.


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#WorkTrends Recap: Creating a Culture of Wellness

Health and wellness extends far beyond preventing the spread of germs in the office during cold and flu season. It is a combination of keeping your mind, body and mental wellbeing in good standing to reach a higher level of productivity. Companies should prioritize the general health and wellness of their employees because it can impact productivity and the bottom line.

Recent research indicates that the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but many indicate their workplace doesn’t offer one.

On this week’s #WorkTrends podcast and Twitter chat, Host Meghan M. Biro and our special guest Jenya Adler from Staples Business Advantage, discussed health and wellness in the office.

Here are a few key points Jenya shared:

  • A wellness program is more than just fitness plan. It takes into account the whole employee.
  • Break rooms are the heart of the office. Make them a place people want to gather.
  • Let your employees know it’s ok to work from home and recharge when they are sick.

Missed the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here.

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next week, on Sept 21, host Meghan M. Biro will be joined by Greg Besner, CEO of Culture IQ, to discuss how to layer business data and culture data.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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#WorkTrends Preview: Creating a Culture of Wellness

Health and wellness extends far beyond preventing the spread of germs in the office during cold and flu season. It is a combination of keeping your mind, body and mental wellbeing in good standing to reach a higher level of productivity. Companies should prioritize the general health and wellness of their employees because it can impact productivity and the bottom line.

Recent research indicates that the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but many indicate their workplace doesn’t offer one. In a wellness program, employees report they’re looking for fresh foods, onsite gyms and other perks that help improve health and fitness. Additionally, employees want their kitchen, lounge, café or break room to be well-stocked.

Join Host Meghan M. Biro and our special guest from Staples and its business-to-business arm, Staples Business Advantage (@StaplesB2B), to discuss health and wellness in the office. Jenya Adler, director of workplace strategy for Staples Business Advantage, helps businesses explore how they work, and how they want to work.

This show is guaranteed to be an informative and practical conversation about how to improve the health and wellness of your workforce.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Sept 14 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro and guest Jenya Adler of Staples Business Advantage as they discuss how to create a culture of wellness.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, Sept 14 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1. How does health and wellness affect productivity? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2. How should an employer improve the health and wellness of employees? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3. What are the benefits of a healthy workforce? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

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Five Ways to Foster a Wellness Culture

I’m going to say it loud and proud: I love workplace wellness programs. And I will shout it from the rooftops until every company in every industry finally understands how invaluable they are to overall corporate success. Here’s the thing—a happy, healthy employee is good for profits. In fact, the American Heart Association found that for every $1 invested in workplace wellness, companies could expect to receive up to $3 in return. That’s fantastic ROI.

I also love technology, but it’s true that technology has disrupted our work lives and our family time. And while that slow-creeping crossover has had (some would say) an adverse effect on “family time,” as most of us remain tethered to our mobile devices, it has had a different, more positive impact on work. Today, people can virtually work from anywhere, at any time. Companies offer more flex time and work from home options, and employees see previously grueling travel schedules reduced due in part, to things like online video collaboration.

But, that constant connectivity and flexibility comes at a price.

Why Wellness Programs are the Future of Work

When Staples Business Advantage conducted their second annual Workplace Index, what they found was telling. Instead of technology reducing workloads, employees are today working too much. In fact, of their U.S. respondents, most reported working longer hours to try and catch up on work they couldn’t tackle during an eight-hour day. And that workload is taking a toll.

  • Sixty-four percent of respondents say their workplace has contributed to stress.
  • Nearly half report feeling overworked is motivating them to look for another job.
  • Thirteen percent have even taken a workplace stress-related leave of absence.
  • And yet, 66 percent of employees still consider the office as the most productive place to get work done.

Clearly, the onus lies with employers to ensure the workplace is a healthy one. “This study shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to focus on and design employee experiences where employees truly want to show up,” said Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work. Morgan, who worked in conjunction with Staples Business Advantage on the report, stated, “Offering employees health and wellness programs, well-designed office environments and up-to-date modern technologies are all a part of that employee experience. This is crucial to be able to attract and retain top talent.”

He is absolutely correct. Consider this: While a full 62 percent of respondents said the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, 58 percent reported their workplace doesn’t offer one. Let’s get started today on changing those statistics, and creating corporate environments where healthy workers become top priorities. Here’s how.

Five Ways to Foster a Wellness Culture

The employees surveyed in Staples Business Advantage’s Workplace Index 2016 made it clear they want more from their employers. Here are five ways to help foster a wellness culture, and actively maintain a health-focused culture.

  1. Create well-designed, inspiring workplaces. Even with remote work and flex time on the rise, as mentioned above, 66 percent of employees still rate the office as the most productive place to get work done. But sadly, many workers describe their workspaces as being less than inspiring. According to the survey, “The majority of survey respondents describe their office as standard, plain and dull…Forty-three percent would like to see more attention paid to workplace design, with respondents also citing a desire for natural light, private spaces, standing desks, lounge areas, and ergonomic/flexible furniture for multiple uses.” While this sounds like a lot of change, you don’t have to break the bank to keep employees happy and healthy. Standing desks can be jerry-rigged, or shared among multiple team members, and you can use an underused boardroom for increased collaboration part of the time, for private or small group projects.
  1. Make breaks mandatory. Did you know that 53 percent of employees eat lunch at their desk every single day? I know I’ve been guilty of it more than once. Not surprisingly, the Workplace Index revealed that more than three-quarters of employees say they feel more productive after a break. So why don’t they take them? Guilt. As Kerry Anne Carter, vice president, Staples Business Advantage, said, “Taking a break in the always-on modern workplace can seem like a pipe dream, but it shouldn’t be.” More than half of those surveyed want breaks actively encouraged, and even something as innocuous as having a well-stocked break room offering healthy snacks can significantly increase employee productivity.
  1. Focus on personal and professional development. Having the right tools available is a major step toward a healthier workplace. As well as having the most up to date technology and software solutions on hand, providing a way for employees to continually better themselves at work will help improve retention rates. Create an easily accessed “professional development” Intranet where employees can do research and take courses. Implement a companywide year-long personal growth program, and have managers work with staff to reach their goals. And work with staff each year to reward them in some way for their hard work, whether through small promotions or pay raises or by awarding them an extra week of much-needed vacation time.
  1. If you haven’t already, adopt flexible work hours and paid time off. Stress kills, and there’s nothing more stressful than juggling life and work commitments, especially when there are children in the mix. Allowing flex time and remote work options, and ensuring people have the right technology that enables them to work, gives people control of their lives and goes a long way toward fostering employee loyalty. Also, as a bonus, studies have shown that people are 13 percent more productive when they work from home. Plus, when they inevitably come down with an illness like the flu, they won’t feel pressured to bring those germs into the office, possibly infecting colleagues. According to Chris Correnti, vice president of Staples Facility Solutions, “The flu is responsible for an estimated 70 million missed workdays and billions of dollars in lost office productivity each year.”
  1. Make daily fitness part of your employee policies. While having an onsite gym or offering fitness subsidies might sound like options only the largest of companies can afford, even the smallest businesses can incorporate fitness into the workplace. Walking increases creative thinking, and by now we all know that sitting all day is awful for your health. Instead, get employees moving by holding “walking meetings.” If you absolutely have to have those laptops out, get out of the old boardroom routine by walking to a nearby coffee shop for your gathering. Or, invest in fitness wearables and inspire teams to challenge each other in monthly or quarterly exercise contests. Make it easy for employees to bike to work by providing safe areas to lock up their gear, and, if possible, to shower at work.

Building a health-focused work culture doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and the rewards far outweigh the costs. Make sure that managers and other business leaders walk the walk as well (no pun intended), and inspire employees to follow their lead into a healthier, happier, more productive workplace. You and your employees will be glad you did.

This post is sponsored by Staples Business Advantage.

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