Workplace wellness solutions to keep employees and the bottom line in good health
Employers encouraging workplace wellness is nothing new. It’s been a growing trend for years because of the benefits both employers and employees reap. Productivity and morale increase, health insurance costs and absenteeism go down. Employees feel better about themselves, and employers can more easily attract and retain the kind of talent that makes their business better. As with other trends, especially toward digitalization, the COVID pandemic accelerated the popularity of workplace wellness. Personal health shot to the forefront of priorities, and doing something, anything, together became a focus while offices were closed. With a combination of remote, in-office, and hybrid workers, wellness programs are ever more important to keeping teams connected.
There’s a plethora of wellness and fitness apps out there that can help people set goals, track achievements, and remind themselves when it’s time to get up and get moving. Several are even designed with workplace wellness in mind. YuMuuv is a team wellness challenge app that facilitate any goal a team sets, from getting in their steps to getting enough sleep. The average user is 54% more active than the average adult, the company says.
“Because of YuMuuv and these activity challenges, our employees are inspired to walk even on rainy days. It’s the fun approach and support from the community that makes healthy habits pay off,” Paulig Group human resources manager Katerina Muhel said in a testimonial.
Wellbeats is another business-directed app that provides virtual fitness, mindfulness, and nutrition routines and classes. With more than 1,000 classes to choose from there’s an activity level suitable for everyone regardless of activity level or experience.
Employers that subsidize or fully pay for subscriptions for their employees can see returns on their investment well beyond the initial costs. Wearable health tracking tech can also pay dividends by giving people just the little nudge they need to be proactive about managing their health without having to compare themselves to co-workers.
Work is stressful. Life is stressful. Research shows the pandemic increased anxiety and depression levels by 25% worldwide. “This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health,” World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
As an employer promoting workplace wellness, it’s important to encourage workers to take mindfulness or meditation breaks. The 5 or 10 minutes it takes for people to step away from the computer, take some deep breaths, and reset their brains and bodies is a pittance compared to how much more focused and productive people can be with a fresh perspective and a refreshed mind. Again, apps such as Calm, Headspace, and wearable tech such as the Apple Watch’s mindfulness setting can help.
A simple little stretch break, particularly one that targets areas of repetitive stress, can prevent chronic pain and surgeries to correct conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. A walk break can get people outside and remind them that there’s more to life than work and their workspace. The change of scenery can boost creativity and revitalize the senses. Many organizations have taken to walking meetings, which get people moving during work, increasing attentiveness and divergent thinking.
Employers can get frazzled by the disruptions that accompany workers taking vacations. It can sometimes make them miss the forest for the trees, because encouraging employees to use all the paid time off leads to decreased burnout, which improves retention levels and promotes a vibrant company culture. People come back from vacation with a different outlook on the world that can help them envision new possibilities that employers are the beneficiaries of.
Rested & Ready
Promoting workplace wellness extends outside the workspace, be it at home or in the office. Encouraging employees to spend time with their families, to actively work on work-life balance, is important too. While they’re busy tracking all their physical activity, employees can track their sleep as well.
Old cliches about burning the midnight oil and spending the night at the office are just wrong. They don’t make you more productive, they just make you exhausted. Relaxing and getting enough sleep makes people more productive. They can help combat levels of fatigue that end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars every year. With so many white-collar jobs demanding brainpower, a tired employee is of little use just zoned out at a computer screen. And tired blue-collar workers tend to get in more accidents, creating extra expenses and diminished quality of life.
Another easy challenge, and one that can help with sleep, productivity, and overall well-being, is drinking water. It sounds so simple, but so many of us don’t drink enough water, even though our bodies need it to function. When we’re dehydrated, we’re sluggish and irritable, and we don’t sleep well. Drinking water throughout the day combats all that, helping our bodies rid themselves of toxins.
Another detox we all need from time to time is a digital one. During work, those mindfulness breaks or walks can be the chance to get away from screens. At home, avoiding screens in the hour or two before bed can promote a better night’s sleep. Obsessively checking our work email outside of business hours diminishes the quality of our off time and creates stress. The problem is so bad, several European countries have outlawed employers contacting employees outside work hours. On vacation, wellness resorts such as Miraval have device-free areas and digital mindfulness classes to help people unplug.
A lot of these solutions seem counterintuitive. “How will employees be more productive when they’re working less?” bosses might ask. Workplace wellness is an investment in people, in their wellbeing. It pays for everyone.