Day in and day out Americans spend the majority of their lives at work either behind a desk, on the phone, in a car, on their feet or running equipment. Regardless of the occupation, your job is more than likely taking a toll on your physical and mental health.
Staying on course to achieving your overall health and wellness goals initially takes personal dedication and perseverance. But another leading factor to your success is whether your company values and supports a culture of healthy and active employees.
To bring physical and mental wellness into the country’s companies, an emphasis on total mind and body wellness needs to start with company management leading by example and employees feeling valued and appreciated for their efforts. Efforts also should be made to reduce the ever-present stress that hangs over the majority of companies in the United States.
The Cause: Stressful Work Environments
Workplace stress continues to rise as employees experience burnout in their jobs, feel that they aren’t compensated appropriately for their work and face increasing workloads as the economy cycles through its dips and rebounds. In fact, the 2013 Work Stress Survey released earlier this year found that 83 percent of Americans reported being stressed at work, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. The survey also pointed to poor compensation and unreasonable workloads as the top factors leading to a stressful work environment.
“Stress is such a huge piece of many of the medical problems in our society,” explains Aimee Matchette, studio owner at Elements Whitefish Bay. “Massage can help relieve stress and tension in the workplace, while making people more present in their jobs.”
While massage is only one element to living a healthy, stress-free lifestyle, Matchette says adding on-site chair massages or partnering with a local studio to provide employee massage discounts is a good start for companies who are interested in reducing the costs and negative effects of a stressful work environment.
The Solution: Corporate Wellness Programs
As you are reviewing your company’s benefits packages and signing up for open enrollment between now and the end of the year, you might be wishing that your employer was more invested in your health and wellness. If this is the case at your company and you’re like most employees who are stressed out about their work environment, then you may be interested in bringing a corporate wellness program into your company.
“There are so many things that small- and medium-sized businesses can do to adopt a healthy culture,” Matchette said. “People shouldn’t get overwhelmed and it doesn’t have to be expensive. No step is too small.”
Corporate wellness programs are all about taking care of employees. For starters, wellness begins with changing the culture of a company to become more aware of their employees' needs and support healthier lifestyles at home and work. Some common elements for a basic corporate wellness program may include:
- Conducting health risk assessments.
- Running team-building contests such as using pedometers to track steps or hosting healthy recipe competitions.
- Replacing donuts at a company meeting with fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Creating walking groups at lunch for accountability and team building.
- Bringing exercise programs like yoga or boot camps into conference rooms during break times or the lunch hour.
- Offering nutritional counseling.
- Providing on-site chair massages or employee discounts at a local massage studio.
“When you have a physical job that requires a lot of heavy lifting or a desk job that promotes poor body mechanics from sitting too much, massage can help employees lead healthier lifestyles,” explains Matchette. “We make it really convenient for companies to have us come in and offer chair massages. It encourages employees to take a quick break for themselves and come back to their job feeling refreshed and ready to work.”
The Bottom Line: Increase in Company Morale, Health
Investing in corporate wellness programs is not only good for helping reduce employee stress levels and increase loyalty, but well-run programs also can be beneficial to the company’s bottom line. The Wellness Council of America has reported that a company gains an average of $5.81 for every $1 invested in wellness programs. Additional financially focused benefits for companies also include a reduction in sick-leave absenteeism by 26.8 percent, healthcare costs by 26 percent, and workers’ compensation/disability management claims costs by 32 percent.
“We are trying to lead by example at Elements,” explains Matchette. “As a business owner, I try to lead a healthy lifestyle and I think it helps to encourage my staff to do so too.”
Bringing wellness into your company can be infectious for breeding higher team morale, employee loyalty and engagement in healthy lifestyle choices that can ultimately reduce stress and enhance productivity. When you know that your business cares about you and management is taking steps to make your work environment healthier, you are more inclined to work harder and feel better about the responsibilities associated with your job. It’s time for American companies and their employees to get well.