The concept of wellness is nothing new to spa professionals. But when was the last time we thought about enriching wellness programs for our employees? Have we thought beyond the isolated programs of a weight loss challenge or smoking cessation? A new survey of U.S. employees conducted by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) and Everyday Health reveals that 87% of employees feel disengaged at work. And while more than one half have access to a wellness program, only three out of 10 actually use it, and only one in 10 think it actually improves their health.
The Hard Facts
In a 2014 study of North American workers conducted by Spafinder Wellness 365 Research, employees reported on the top obstacles to their work productivity, which were:
- Overall fatigue (55%)
- Job stress (52%)
- Not enough time to accomplish tasks (47%)
- Poor sleep (45%)
- Financial worries (36%)
- Family stress (29%)
- Management doesn’t understand workload/stress (23%)
- Medical ailments (21%)
While fatigue and job stress were the top productivity killers for employees with and without a corporate wellness program, the “without” were more likely to cite fatigue (61% vs. 52%) and job stress (60% vs. 55%).
A New Approach
Workplace wellness is getting a well-deserved second look and that is why it will be an important trend to watch. While yoga, lunch and learn classes, or paid gym memberships are becoming more commonplace, these offerings aren’t making much of an impact on workplace health.
The new phase of wellness concentrates on a “culture of wellness”. This shift that values culture and purpose is already showing the desired results of a healthier and happier worker, lower healthcare costs, higher productivity, less absenteeism and less turnover.
Creating a whole new culture can be a major challenge for any size company. There has to be recognition by owners and management that holistic health and wellness are an essential part of a successful and productive work environment. Companies need to stop offering wellness initiatives that promote isolation from one another with limited reach. Instead, offer tailored health benefit programs such as pet health insurance, financial counseling, onsite childcare, and a more flexible approach to paid time off. These programs can help to ease a worried mind leading to greater employee contentment and increased productivity.
Healthy Choices for a Healthy Future
More employers have come to understand that the welfare of their companies is directly tied to the health of their workers. While workplace wellness is embracing new philosophies and approaches, this new way still remains the exception than the rule. But with a few tried and true changes, we can become pioneers of employee health and productivity.
Offer fresh meals to go – home! One small European company offers an app that allows employees to order a recipe and pick up the fresh ingredients when they leave for home.
Go beyond the traditional gym membership - Laughter Yoga anyone? The 2014 Spafinder Wellness survey found roughly nine in 10 employees who tried a new fitness/wellness activity felt inspired to continue it on a consistent basis and that 72% indicated it made them mentally healthier and less stressed.
The human factor - There’s a growing realization that the profit-maximizing, 24/7 business model cannot be lasting or acceptable. As the Millennial generation takes its place in the managerial tier, there will be an emphasis on a more health-conscious and work-life balanced environment.
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