The Price of Workplace Wellness

The old saying goes: A happy team is a productive team.

But how are we supposed to keep our team and colleagues happy nowadays? Workplace-related stress plays a significant role in an individual’s emotional and mental well-being. Obesity continues to rise and related-chronic illnesses are affecting our workforce at a younger and younger age. Coupled with the fact that by 2020, 20% of our population will be 65 or older, this is becoming a serious issue for employers and employees alike.

Although it might seem like happiness and well-being can fall outside an employer’s realm of influence, the costs ultimately fall back on the employer. In 2012, it is estimated that diabetes cost the US $69 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism. Similarly, a 2006 study indicated that lost productivity related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) amounted to a staggering $145 billion.

But what about the direct cost for the employer? 

Looking at these figures, it’s clear that if employers want a productive workforce, they should start taking a holistic approach to workforce happiness.

One traditionally overlooked opportunity is a focus on nutrition. As companies have expanded their benefits to include on-site massages, gym discounts, and wellness fairs, many continue to stock their kitchens and cafes with candy and processed foods. And while it might seem easier and cheaper to purchase these traditional items, what we eat at the workplace has a big impact on health and productivity.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time or money to improve health at the workplace.  Here are just a few first steps to consider as you look to building a healthier, happier workforce.

  • Replace the cookies and chips with fresher items. Fruits, vegetables, hummus, and other alternatives might require more replenishing, but it will get team members in the habit of reaching for a kiwi instead of a Cheeto. Worried about what to stock? Solicit ideas from your colleagues!
  • Sponsor wellness-focused brown bag lunches. Many health insurance companies provide access to in-person speakers to discuss nutrition, health and wellness at little to no cost. Also look in your community to see if there are local resources to draw on if your insurer doesn’t provide them.
  • Organize on-site (or off-site) workout groups.  Can’t afford to offer a subsidized gym membership? That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage fitness! Lunchtime walking groups are a great way to get active and out for a breath of fresh air. If you have enough space, on-site yoga, pilates, and fitness classes are great motivators — and many studios offer reduced rates for corporate classes.
  • Make recipes and wellness information readily available. All of this is well and good while you’re are at work, but what about when everyone goes home? Look into ways to encourage healthy habits at home, such as a recipe sharing club. Also, there are many platforms out there that teammates can easily access for meal inspiration from the comfort of their own home… or desk! 

What are some of the ways you encourage wellness at the workplace? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

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