Healthy people produce healthy results. Great organizations realize that since employees spend most of their waking hours at the office, that time will have an impact—whether positive or negative—on overall health. We can’t ignore that working the wrong way can lead to health and productivity issues due to a tendency to remain sedentary for many hours of the day. Company cultures that prioritize holistic wellness, however, are reframing the way we think about work.
The workplace is actually a terrific place to raise awareness about physical and mental health risks and to offer programs that incentivize individuals to develop healthier behaviors. In turn, these programs can have a positive effect on not only your company’s health but also the well-being of family members and even entire communities as ideas spread. Plus, you don’t have to install an expensive on-site gym; there are many things you can to make your office a wellness workplace without breaking the bank.
Elite organizations are investing heavily in physical well-being, revealing how critical being healthy is in achieving results that are a cut above the rest. Google’s campus, for example, offers on-site fitness centers and nap pods; healthcare services like physician, chiropractic, physical therapy; and massage services, as well as health-minded meals served on portion-conscious plates. None of these options are cheap, but for Google, the effects they have on productivity, as well as attracting new employees, are well worth it.
One simple change you can make is to allow your team to exercise on flexible company time. We all know that it can be tough to find time to work out when you have to juggle kids, a career and the other complications of modern life. Simply allowing your team to use some of their work time to stay active during the workday may cost you a few hours of productivity each week, but the policy will begin to pay dividends when it comes to health and well-being of your team.
Another easy upgrade you can make is to your organization’s break room. Consider cutting back on unhealthy offerings like chips and donuts, and instead set out some healthy snack options for your team. This will help establish a culture of health and encourage team members to stay away from the vending machine. You may not be able to force someone to make good choices, but providing the options, like fruit, yogurt and vegetables, makes it easy for people to make a change.
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Although it seems obvious that teams perform at a higher level when their workday isn’t clouded by stress and worry, mental wellness in the workplace is often overlooked. While many people openly talk about their diet or exercise routines, most are more uncomfortable discussing problems like focus, anxiety and depression. Because people want to look hard-working and attentive every minute of the day, they may feel nervous opening up about these issues. However, recent studies show that silence is harmful: According to a 2006 WHO mental health questionnaire, bouts of depression and anxiety can cost a single team member the equivalent of 27 missed work days per year.
To benefit your team’s day-to-day mental wellness, you can encourage your employees to take a mental break during the workday. Some people may not need this and can more easily maintain working flow, but others may need short mental breaks so they can come back energized and ready for work. At Southwest Michigan First, we have recently set up a “game” table to give our eyes a break from the computer screen. Currently, our team has been using the game table to work on puzzles together. Throughout the day, people can drop by the puzzle table on their way to the copier and add a piece or two before getting back to work.
But most important to mental wellness is a feeling of connectedness. Increasingly, people do not just want a place to work. They want to belong to a community that cares about them and that they can contribute to meaningfully. To make this happen, you don’t need to balloon your budget—just focus on engaging your team members. Lift them up on an individual level.