Workplace stress is being called the health epidemic of the 21st century. A large reason for this is the 24/7 corporate culture that now exists because of how the world is constantly connected. Through emails, and the rise of social media and instant messaging apps, employees are struggling to maintain a healthy work life balance.
It is estimated that workplace stress is costing U.S. businesses over $300 billion a year. This figure isn’t likely to decrease as the demand for more corporate jobs increases. Maryville University’s market outlook for business graduates shows that there will be 632,400 more jobs available in the business and finance sectors by 2024. In order to tackle this “epidemic” head on, companies need to prioritize wellness in order to create more effective and productive working environments for employees.
The effects of having a good corporate wellness program are huge. Fast Company spoke to Dan Calista, the CEO of healthcare consulting firm Vynamic. The company has an onsite “health and care” position that is devoted entirely to looking after employees. Some of the benefits that Vynamic brought in included ergonomically correct chairs, treadmill desks and healthy snacks. The most popular health initiative that Calista introduced was no work emails between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on the weekends to create a better work/life balance. Calista believes that his commitment to wellness led to a more loyal workforce. Fast Company also noted that “Vynamic’s attrition rate is 10% compared to between 15% and 20% for other comparable consultancies.”
An employee’s diet is often poor, which can affect their well-being at work. If they have to bring in or buy their own food, then the priority for them is going to be convenience. This means that employees will more likely than not consume fatty foods and high sugar drinks throughout the day. In order to look after their workforce’s health, many companies now offer healthy food options. The Chicago Tribute examined insurance company GEICO’s dietary intervention project which provides low-fat vegetarian alternatives in the cafeteria. Working alongside the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, they did a 22-week study on GEICO employees where they were offered a healthy diet and given “cooking demonstrations and educational sessions led by doctors and dietitians.” As a result of the study participants lost on average 11 pounds, and there were fewer missed hours at work. This shows how even a small change, such as offering healthier food, can result in one of the key benefits of employee wellness programs.
The above two examples are both actions that mid-size to large companies have taken. For small businesses there are also plenty of ways to incorporate a wellness program or initiative. A feature article titled ‘Low Cost Employee Wellness Ideas’ lists several simple ways that a small business can prioritize corporate wellness. One way is to establish an area around the company building for lunchtime walking or biking. This will allow your employees to get some fresh air and take a break from the confines of the office. The article even recommends giving employees cheap pedometers so they can track the health benefits of their movement. An even easier option is a distress zone that employees can use to “cry, vent, or distress after a particularly tough day.” As Caitlyn Norwood wrote for us last year, meditating is a good way to deal with work stress, and a room where employees could do this undisturbed would help them cope with hard days.
Prioritizing corporate wellness is an important factor of Human Resources and is vital to ensuring that the workforce is happy. The above examples show how this not only has a positive impact on the employees’ well-being, but also on the company’s overall productivity.
Still interested in this topic? Here’s another blog on the importance of corporate wellness.
Exclusively written for vtrpro.com
by Janey Branch
Janey Branch runs a small manpower talent management firm, and provides freelance HR consulting for various corporate clients. She's a long-time Pilates practitioner and loves to bake in her spare time.