It’s definitely not the worst thing that wellness is such a trend right now—as a healthcare professional, you know firsthand that living healthier makes everyone happier and more productive. But the way we execute those wellness initiatives in workspaces requires some care and thought to be successful.
Programs requiring employees to do anything regarding their bodies can potentially backfire. The most successful campaigns gently encourage but do not force, pressure, or shame.
For example, stay away from weight loss competitions. Instead, offer 5K challenges, standing desks, and promote a culture of movement.
Here are 14 more ways to boost workplace wellness.
1. Make hydration a prerogative.
Company-branded water bottles, lots of water coolers, seltzer if you can foot the bill. All of these make drinking water and staying hydrated a pleasure and a convenience. And when things are convenient, that’s when they get done.
Making sure everyone is comfortable and well-positioned at their work stations is an easy but huge way of ensuring your employees are cared for—specifically their spines and their wrists. With so many of us working at desks and computers, it’s essential we’re anticipating some of the unique effects typing, scrolling, and screen-squinting can have on our vision, our joints, and our sanity.
3. Bring the flu shots to the people!
Arrange for flu shots to be administered at the office for employees and their families. Providing easy access to preventative care will curb sick days and guard against the misery of flu season and a house full of sick kids.
4. Provide free gym memberships.
Exercise is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves. Movement and sweat help relieve stress, improve focus, promote emotional balance, and just generally make you feel good. Enabling employees to do this whenever they can or want to will improve both spirits and health.
5. Make space for meditation.
Meditation has many benefits to wellness, including stress reduction and increased attention span. If possible, set aside quiet space for reflection and meditation. Decorate with comfy pillows, lush indoor plants, and low lights.
6. Provide free fruit as snacks.
Apples and bananas a day keep the people away from the vending machines. And who ever feels good eating out of a vending machine? Access to fresh fruit and veggies is an economical way of providing healthy choices to your staff without preaching to them about what they should or shouldn’t be eating.
7. Start a self-help library.
Stock it up with the newest, buzziest self-help books, and some classics, too. Encourage employees to borrow what they like or contribute articles and books of their own. Start a Self-Care Journal and let everyone fill it with their suggestions and successes.
8. Encourage charity and community service.
Giving back can be enriching for the soul as well as for the community around us. Offer incentives for employees to get involved. Make it a team effort. Big Brother/Big Sister, volunteering at local homeless shelters, organizing a gift drive instead of Secret Santa at the holidays—all of these generate feelings of warmth and wellness.
9. Outlaw lunch-skipping and late-night working.
Emergencies arise and the occasional skipped lunch or late email might be necessary, but gentle discouragement of late-night working can create a healthier, happier environment for employees. Modeling breaks, taking time off for vacation, and staying away from email off-hours can have a huge influence over the way people interact with one other and their work.
10. Raffle off prizes that help facilitate self-care.
Pay for a babysitter or a house-cleaning service so the employee can go get a massage, go for a walk or hike, or just spend some time on themselves. Prizes don’t have to be gift cards to restaurants or bottles of wine (although those things can also factor into self-care!), but providing unexpected services like those can mean all the difference to a busy mom or dad trying to manage a household and do their best work for you.
11. Bring in a nutritionist.
It’s not polite to assume your employees don’t know how to feed themselves—they surely do! But many people are comforted by getting personalized advice from a professional. The nutritionist might be able to help parents of picky children or children with allergies craft time-saving meal plans or even help a newly diagnosed diabetic figure out what he can or can’t eat on Halloween.
12. Have a chair masseuse visit for one day a month.
A regular opportunity for a light mini-massage will be something the whole office can look forward to. It makes employees feel appreciated. And massage can do wonders for tension release and stress reduction.
13. Be grateful.
The language we use with one another also has big effects on our emotional well-being and self-esteem. Lead with gratitude. Encourage employees to use positive and affirmative language whenever possible and appropriate. That isn’t to say the hammer needs to come down sometimes—of course it does—but with positive framing, even a chastised team member feels motivated to do better next time. Shame never works. Encouragement often does.
14. Keep the conversation going.
Solicit employee feedback and ideas for improving wellness in the workplace. After all, they know themselves and their needs better than anyone. They likely have loads of wonderful ideas for boosting wellness within your shared space.
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