Employee wellness programs have been in the spotlight for a few years now. Ideally, the purpose of employee wellness programs is to not only promote healthy lifestyles, but also to engage employees on a mental and physical level. The benefits of these programs include healthier and happier employees, longer retention, greater employee loyalty, better quality of work, and better productivity. The strategy behind employee engagement doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive in order to be effective.
Wellness, Stress, and Work
Statistics show that stress is a problem for most American workers. According to an American Institute of Stress report:
- 80% of workers experience stress at work
- Almost 50% of workers would like help managing stress
- 42% of workers believe their co-workers also need help managing stress
However, work-related stress isn’t the only problem. We do a poor job of maintaining a healthy work-life balance in general. A Gallup survey found that the average full-time employee in the U.S. works 47 hours a week. In another survey, 63% of U.S. employees said that job-related stress causes them to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Clearly, work habits and stress levels need to change.
Engaged Employees and Safety
Stressed and overworked employees can be disastrous for a company’s overall health. A worker who is stressed will be disengaged, lack motivation, and be unproductive. Even more concerning is that disengaged employees are not safe employees. A worker who is engaged with their workplace is far more aware of their surroundings. In fact, research has shown that 70% fewer safety incidents occur in highly engaged workplaces. Healthy and engaged employees are absolutely critical to a company’s success.
Promoting Engagement with Employee Wellness
The goals of employee wellness programs should be to promote healthy habits, reduce stress, and increase employee’s workplace engagement. While this can certainly be accomplished with high-value incentives or company-wide retreats, not every organization has the resources for such elaborate programs. Here are some simple (and cost-effective) ways to promote well-being in the workplace.
Encourage employees to take breaks. Those that take regular breaks are more productive, less stressed, and experience a boost in creativity. Encourage stationary employees to get up for a short walk. Offering the option of a standing desk can also help increase blood flow and reduce muscle cramps. For active employees who are on their feet all day, encourage them to sit down for five minutes out of every hour and to invest in supportive footwear.
Muscle and Eye Strain
Many workplace injuries are the cumulative result of bad habits. Lifting with your back, slouching in your chair, and even repetitive use of certain muscles can lead to painful and annoying injuries. Employers should actively remind employees about the dangers of improperly lifting heavy objects and bad posture. There are also desktop and browser applications to reduce eye strain for employees who spend the majority of their time at a computer.
Community and Education
Community involvement and educational resources are great ways to get employees out of the normal everyday work environment and help them focus on improving their own lives and the lives of others. Consider organizing community events and fundraisers, or give employees paid days off specifically to volunteer. Studies have shown that gratitude improves physical health, emotional health, reduces aggression, and increases empathy.
Employers should also consider offering employees resources to enrich their personal lives. This can be done by starting a book club or by offering discounts on select educational materials. Some employers set up educational talks on topics with immediate application like budgeting, 401Ks, and financial planning. Offering employees these resources shows that you not only care about their wellbeing at work, but about their quality of life as a whole, which in turn will increase employee retention.
Build a More Engaged Workforce with NBS
Part of our mission at NBS is to help you build a stronger, more competent workforce. Healthy employees who are less stressed are more likely to be engaged on the job—which leads to a safer and more productive workforce. Contact us today to learn more about our services!