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In this technological age, Americans find it harder than ever to engage in physical activity like they did in times past, thus making it extremely difficult to maintain an overall sense of physical and mental wellness. But sedentary behavior is not the only wellness problem infiltrating American culture today.

Stress, health problems, mental illness, professional and/or personal relational conflicts, financial burdens, and/or the lack of resources (or the lack of awareness about them), have an affect on employees, both personally and/or professionally, and also your workplace.

Employers can invest in their employees and the future of their company by offering wellness programs to their workers. An informed employee makes a well-balanced employee, and a well-balanced employee fills a company with happy, productive workers who strive to beneficially contribute to their employer’s continued growth and success.

 

3 Significant Components of a Wellness Program

A wellness program should take into consideration the three most significant things that impact an employee’s overall wellness today. They are:

  1. Physical Activity 

The recommended level of physical activity to produce the maximum health benefits is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 3-5 days per week. Employees who stay fit will be present on a consistent basis and produce and perform better.

Strategies for physical activity may include:

  • Host walk-n-talk meetings
  • Provide bicycle racks
  • Post motivational and encouraging signs in heavy traffic areas (elevator, cafeteria, etc.)
  • Provide incentives for physical activity participation and/or weight control activities
  • Provide on-site child care to promote physical activity
  • Start an employee activity club (e.g., walking, dancing, bicycling, etc.)
  1. Nutrition 

Healthy eating is critical to prevent and manage weight and obesity. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help stop chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Healthy eating improves productivity as well. Employees often eat and drink at work, so strategies and policies that improve the food culture is beneficial.

Strategies for nutrition may include:

  • Offer appetizing, low-cost, healthy options, such as fruits and vegetables, 100% fruit/vegetable juices, and low-fat dairy products in vending machines, cafeterias and break rooms.
  • Offer healthy food substitutes during meetings, company functions, etc.
  • Promote on-site gardening.
  • Provide interactive food opportunities such as taste testing, food preparation skill sharpening, etc.
  • Acquire refrigerated vending machines that offer healthy cold items (fruits, vegetables, low-fat yogurt, etc.)
  • Provide participation incentives for nutrition or weight management activities.
  1. Tobacco Cessation 

The Centers for Disease Control states that smoking costs the nation $167 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost worker productivity. The CDC estimates each smoking employee costs a company $3,391 per year—including $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenses. Smoking cessation programs have not only shown an immediate and long-term return on investment, but an increase in employee productivity as well.

Strategies for tobacco cessation may include:

  • Create a policy prohibiting tobacco use anywhere on company property.
  • Promote the Tobacco Quit Line.
  • Support employees participating in smoking cessation activities.
  • Provide onsite individual/group therapy.
  • Provide an individual, group, or telephone counseling program sponsored by a health plan.

 

Identify the Wellness Program(s) That is Right for Your Company

Below are 7 examples of workplace wellness programs based on the acronym L.E.A.D.E.R.S.

  • Living Healthy Programs
  • Environment Strategies
  • Attaining Balance Programs
  • Dynamics and Culture Strategies
  • Employee Health Services
  • Remuneration and Benefits
  • Support Building
  1. Living Healthy Programs 
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Stress management education
  • Substance use and abuse programs
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Weight management
  • Low-calorie vending machines and healthy cafeteria options
  • Active living and fitness programs
  • Information sessions
  • Relaxation training
  • Light breaks/nap breaks
  1. Environment Strategies
  • Harassment policy and training
  • Professional career development training
  • Smoke-free workplace
  • Ergonomic work stations
  • Stair use
  1. Attaining Balance Programs
  • Family planning information
  • Elder care/child care information
  • Parenting classes
  • Retirement planning
  • Personal responsibility leave
  • Family days
  • Personal finance
  • Bereavement information
  • Anger management and family violence
  1. Dynamics and Culture Strategies
  • Clear and accurate job descriptions and supportive appraisal system
  • Absenteeism and attendance program
  • Career tracking, (on-line tools like Pfizer)
  • Continuing education
  • Time management and interruption management
  • Shift work rotations and breaks
  • Conflict management skills
  • Handling negative attitudes workshops
  • Management training – scheduling, incentive and recognition programs, workload impact, communication and feedback skills, conflict management skills and support skills, priority setting
  1. Employee Health Services
  • On-site medical services
  • Workplace medical examinations
  • Active rehabilitation and return to work initiatives
  • Self-care education (see health living programs)
  • Health on-line with continuous learning/reminders/tips
  • Fitness appraisals
  • Health and safety fairs
  • Hand-washing tips and reminders
  • Visiting your doctor guide – tips to efficiency
  • Links and information on help lines
  1. Remuneration and Benefits
  • Alternative therapy coverage – massage – try an on-site massage therapist or seated massage breaks
  • Orthodontics
  • Fitness subsidies
  • Education subsidies
  • Cessation and weight control partial reimbursement incentives
  • Safety shoe reimbursement
  • Out-of-country coverage
  • Vision care
  1. Support Building
  • Fitness breaks and stretches
  • Team challenges and corporate sport teams such as soccer, volleyball, and hockey
  • Use employees who are in-house experts e.g., gardening, yoga, construction
  • Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries – other significant dates and achievements
  • 5 minute catch up at the beginning of the workday

 

Calculate a Wellness Program Budget

There are wellness programs available for company budgets of all sizes. If a business can’t afford a costly fitness center, maybe it can afford a single workout room. Small things can make a big difference, like encouraging employees to use the stairs in the building, or providing walking maps at the reception desk..

According to Wellsteps.com, “Employee wellness programs can use a variety of strategies to help improve employee health…Not every example may be right for your worksite, but all of them will help make a difference…Regardless of your wellness budget you can start improving employee health.”