Do you know that workplace wellness is becoming increasingly popular? 

According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more and more employers are offering wellness programs to their employees. The study found that these programs can improve worker productivity, reduce health care costs, and even decrease absenteeism.

In this article, we will discuss importance of wellness in the workplace and how to achieve it?

What is Wellness in the Workplace?

Wellness is defined as promotion of healthy lifestyles and working conditions in the workplace. It is an essential part of a healthy workplace. It includes activities and programs that help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle, prevent chronic diseases, and improve their overall well-being, productivity and morale.

Wellness at workplace is an important investment in the health and well-being of employees and the workplace.

There are many benefits of workplace wellness programs. Employees who participate in these programs have been shown to have improved health outcomes, including lower rates of absenteeism and presenters, and lower health care costs. 

When employees are healthy and happy, they are more productive, engaged, and likely to stay with their organization.

Importance of Wellness in the Workplace 

We all know that feeling when we’ve been sitting at our desk for hours on end and our back starts to ache, or when we get a headache from staring at the computer screen. These are just some of the common complaints that can lead to sick days and loss of productivity at work. 

Wellness programs are designed to promote healthy lifestyle choices among employees and can often be run by fitness professionals or wellness coaches.

Wellness programs have numerous benefits for both employees and employers. Some of these are given below:

Reduced Absenteeism

A study by the American Journal of Health Promotion found that wellness programs can lead to a 28 percent reduction in sick days and a 26 percent reduction in health care costs. 

Another study found that wellness programs can lead to a 20 percent reduction in absenteeism. 

It’s an investment 

A study by the RAND Corporation found that wellness programs can lead to a $3.27 return on investment for every dollar spent on the program. 

Another benefit of this investment is that when employees feel good their productivity is increased.

Improved Morale and Job Satisfaction 

Workplace wellness is also important because it can improve morale and job satisfaction. When employees feel supported by their employer in their efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they are more likely to be engaged and loyal to their organization.

Promotion of Health Culture

Finally, workplace wellness is important because it helps to create a culture of health and wellness within the organization. This can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the individual employee to the community at large.

Barriers to Wellness at Workplace

Although there are many barriers to wellness at workplace but here, we will discuss three most common barriers to wellness in the workplace.

1. Lack of time 

Employees are always busy and they often complain that do not have enough time to participate in wellness programs. They struggle with finding extra time to take part in wellness activities which are available at their workplace. 

The solution for this barrier is that organizations need to be realistic and offer creative ways to engage their preoccupied employees in wellness activities without compromising their time for work and family. 

2. Lack of knowledge and motivation 

Other common barrier is lack of motivation and interest on the part of employees. Many a times they don’t know what sort of wellness activities are available for them. Sometimes they have no idea how to get started and some of them even consider these activities waste of time. 

3. Financial constraints  

A wellness program is expensive. Organizations may have financial constraints to start and maintain a proper wellness program at their workplace. 

When an organization have no money allocated to run a wellness program, then it’s very hard to run that program. Therefore, it is always advised that every organization should first have a buy-in of its leadership and ensure availability of finances before starting wellness program in its workplace.

Types of Wellness at Workplace

There are many different types of workplace wellness programs. Some programs focus on physical activity, while others may include educational components about healthy eating and stress management.

The type of program that is right for your organization will depend on the needs of your employees and the resources that are available.

Below are some examples of workplace wellness programs that you may consider implementing at your company: 

Some common types of workplace wellness programs include:

Physical fitness area

These programs may offer access to a gym or other fitness facilities, as well as classes and other resources to help employees stay active. 

Some workplaces have a dedicated place where their employees can go to work out. Other than gym, examples of physical fitness areas are: swimming pool, sports area or cycling area available within workplace. 

Massage facility 

Some workplaces offer massage facility to their employees. When employees are under stress they can go and have a massage. The basic purpose is to make employees relaxed at their work. 

Google is considered one of the best workplaces because it offers best massage services to its employees. 

Yoga Center 

Yoga is an effective way to relief stress. And this has been very popular among all wellness program activities. That’s why many organizations have yoga center and regular yoga classes at their workplace. 

Yoga and simple meditation exercises not only provides physical benefits but also improves mental health by taking out clutter from mind and providing more oxygen through breathing exercises. 

Healthy Lunch 

Employees often struggle to eat healthy lunch at the workplace. It’s hard to eat anything healthy in 30 minutes lunch break so employees are left with no option but to order quick snack or fast food. 

Many organizations are now maintaining healthy lunch policy by ensuring that everyone has access and time to eat healthy in their workplace. 

These policies include sharing of healthy meal by employees, flexible timing of lunch break so that employees can order healthy food and employees are allowed to go home and have lunch of their choice. 

Stress management resources

Modern organizations understand the impact of work-related stress. As a part of wellness program such organizations educate their employees about the negative effects of stress on work and overall health.

They engage different speakers and experts to take sessions on managing stress. They may set up support groups and arrange regular discussion on work-related stress.

How to start Wellness program at Workplace? 

To achieve workplace wellness requires efforts from both employee and employer. Employers should provide initiatives that make it easy for employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle at work.

And in turn, employees should take advantage of these initiatives to improve their health and well-being. 

By working together, employees and employers can create a culture of wellness at work. Here are key steps which help you to achieve wellness at workplace.

Step 1: Need Assessment 

The first step before starting a wellness program is knowing needs and requirements of team members at the workplace.  This could be called survey, feedback exercise or research. 

There are many things that an organization can set up under wellness program. This assessment will inform you about how employees think about wellness and what should be offered to them. Whether only fitness area is required or something else is required i.e swimming pool, yoga center etc.

Step 2: Define Goals and Objectives 

After knowing the needs of employees, the next step is to define goals and objectives of wellness program. These goals can be different for different organizations. 

Some organizations want to reduce absenteeism and improve retention of employees. Others want to have better health indicators of their employees. 

These goals should be defined in the form of a statement which explain time bound expectations from wellness program. 

The goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and timebound) 

Some of examples of goals are: reduce number of employees identified as obese by 10% in 3 years onward, increase number of employees by 20% who are working out daily in gym in next 2 years. 

Step 3: Get management buy-in  

The crucial step is to get management buy-in before starting wellness program. It’s is next to impossible to successfully execute without support of management and leadership. 

Whether it is financial approval or endorsement of wellness policy and process, it is leadership who can make or break any wellness program. They can hold employees accountable and they can set the culture of following principle and policies of wellness program. 

Management usually asks common questions about wellness program. These questions are that how wellness program is linked with strategic objectives of their organization. What are benefits of wellness program? 

Step 4: Prepare a budget  

Preparing budget and ensuring funding for wellness program is one of most challenging steps. 

There are different types of cost which needs to be considered. For example, cost of setting up physical fitness area, supplies and equipment required in fitness area, promotional material, rewards, etc. 

Management should explore different options to secure funding for wellness program. In some cases, employees can contribute to pay for services they are having under this program. Even some partners are available to share the cost against finding opportunity for advertising their brand. 

Step 5: Incentivize it

It’s really hard to ensure participation of employees in wellness program. No one can deny the importance of wellness in the workplace but when it comes to taking actions then it’s a different story. 

Incentives and rewards are always effective tools to change unhealthy behaviors and make people participate in wellness program. 

Step 6: Develop a plan and Communicate it 

Making a realistic plan for wellness program is also important step. Since the concept of wellness is broad so make sure that only those activities are added in the plan which are doable. 

Your plan is of no use if it is not communicated to employees for whom it is made. So this communication should be very clear that why wellness program is set up, what is benefits and importance of wellness in the workplace, how employees can join it and how they will be rewarded. 

Step 7: Assess wellness program

Last but not the least that you need to assess wellness program after a certain time. This assessment should be conducted by a third party or independent consultant. The team should always be open to new ideas and feedback to improve the program by making changes and taking corrective actions.