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Wellness in the Workplace

By: Janice Bandick

Published On: December 8, 2015

It's almost the new year – the perfect time to kick start your workplace wellness program and help your employees achieve their new years resolutions to be healthier.

According to the British Columbia Ministry of Health, Canadian workers spend an average of 10.5 hours a day at work and commuting to and from work. Workplaces are an ideal setting for promoting healthy behaviours and preventing disability and disease through healthy, safe work environments. Workplace wellness programs are also good for business: healthy work environments improve productivity and reduce costs related to absenteeism, lost productivity, turnover, workers' compensation, and medical and disability claims.

Ideally, you will develop an overall plan for a workplace wellness program before looking at the specifics. For example, you can start by getting the following elements in place:

  • Support from senior management
  • A wellness committee or team
  • Information about the wellness needs and interests of employees
  • A budget
  • Program objectives
  • An evaluation plan

Even if you don't have the resources to implement a complete wellness program, there are several things you can do that show your employees you value their health.

1. Promote preventive care.

Offer healthy snacks for employees, encourage frequent hand-washing, and make it known that employees who are ill should not be attending work. Consider offering on-site flu vaccines to your employees; or if your health insurance doesn't cover it, consider reimbursing employees for vaccination fees.

2. Encourage exercise.

Turn your office into an active campus. Consider offering covered, secure bike parking for commuters or provide showering facilities and locker rooms for employees who wish to work out at lunch. You could also consider promoting a lunch hour walking club and offering incentives for employees who participate.

3. Emphasize education.

Recruit speakers to lead lunchtime sessions on cooking healthy meals, stress management, or meditation. If you have the space, consider bringing in a yoga, tai chi, or aerobics instructors for lunchtime classes. Keep sessions entertaining but informative, and offer incentives for employees who attend.

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4. Offer options

Encouraging alternative methods of transportation, such as bike sharing. These alternatives are beneficial to the workplace, as well as to the environment. Encourage employees to take public transit by offering reimbursement for the associated costs.

5. Be mindful of mental health

Unmanaged stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and a host of other health issues. In the workplace, stress can lead to reduced productivity, job dissatisfaction, and absenteeism. Encourage employees to take simple steps to reduce stress, like taking several breaks a day to go for a walk, chat with a co-worker, or just get outside for a breath of fresh air.

If any of these ideas appeal to you, it may be time for your workplace to take a step in the wellness direction.

Both employers and employees have a responsibility for creating a healthy workplace. Employees are expected to arrive at work in good health, and the employer is expected to provide an environment that allows employees to maintain good health, enjoy their work, and contribute to the company’s success.


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