Wellness in the workplace can be good for both waistlines and bottom lines
Years ago, before I was a chiropractor, I worked quality control in a mineral factory. The factory entrance was near a coffee shop, and it was more often than not that the boss would bring us employees a dozen donuts. Now I was never a smoker, but the coffee and donuts at break time became my addiction. I think those were the years that I was at my heaviest in weight and also my least active. I didn’t really know any better, as I was a young and dumb 20-something.
Sometimes, especially when we are young, we need others to look out for us. Back in the 1980’s, my place of work did not necessarily watch out for my best interests. Donuts and a smoke break were the only benefits we seemed to have.
Today, I would suspect boxes of donuts to be not as visible in the workplace, and with smokers being banished to the frigid designated smoking area 2 miles from the entrance to any building, there seems to be a trend towards caring about the general well-being of the worker, with Workplace Wellness Programs (WWPs) becoming more and more popular. By 2015, it was estimated that 80 percent of businesses in the United States, with over 1,000 employees, offered some type of wellness enhancing program, or other health incentive, to their workers. Some the of common programs include gym memberships (or even having a gym on-site for employees), weight-loss challenges and yoga classes. In many cases, donuts and muffins have been replaced by fresh fruit and vegetables as well as other healthy snacks. Some businesses have gone so far as to offer help for employees who suffer from addiction, depression and anxiety. While these programs can prove costly to the employer, the benefits reaped can far outweigh those inputs. Research has shown that businesses who show high usage of these wellness programs have higher performance ratings, higher job satisfaction, higher intention to stay, and lower turnover. All of these outcomes are shown to enhance a business’ bottom line.
The next time your boss brings in a box of apple fritters or a bag of homemade cookies, bring up the idea of her or him paying for a gym membership instead. For those employers who sense a lack of motivation, afternoon sluggishness, and high absenteeism, maybe it’s time to budget for a wellness program and committee. While you don’t have to go all out and get gym memberships and buy Lululemon’s for every employee, just start by having healthy snacks available at break times. It might just show to your employees that you care.