Boosting your employees’ morale and productivity may well be in something as simple as a corporate wellness programme
Increasingly stressful and demanding schedules, longer working hours, constant desk sitting and daily commutes – who wouldn’t want to work with a company that offers wellness benefits like free lunchtime yoga and meditation classes?
After all, investing in good health is good business.
Wellbeing boosts organisational health
Wellness programmes offer a win/win solution, providing a valuable asset in retaining top talent. Corporate wellness programmes have been found to significantly increase financial and business performance benefits as well as personal and people-based benefits at work, according to the Australian Department of Health and Aging.
Corporations like Google, Apple and Goldman Sachs, have identified that wellness programmes can help personnel regain clarity and purpose in the haze of chronic stress and overachievement.
The bottom line
Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular topic among business leaders, with several key executives speaking publicly in recent years about how it helps them improve the bottomline.
According to The Huffington Post, “there’s nothing touchy-feely about increased profits. This is a tough economy … stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one.”
Zen Buddhism fascinated the late Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, who attributed the practice of meditation to his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions. According to his biographer Walter Isaacson, not only did Jobs practice meditation, he also offered classes to Apple's engineers to help boost their creativity.
Recent Harvard studies confirm the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, finding that observing your breath without self-judgment actually changes the way your brain is wired, and goes far beyond a simple de-stress session with long lasting benefits.
Good health is good business
While bringing mindfulness into the workplace can help prevent employees from becoming overwhelmed by their work, employers may find it difficult to implement employee wellness programmes due to a paucity of resources, lack of support from management or poor motivation from employees themselves.
As with implementing anything new in the workplace, an effective wellness programme takes careful planning and communication. It may seem difficult at first, but when done right, an employee wellness programme can provide a big payoff in more ways than one.
Five key steps for building a strong employee wellness programme:
1. Identify current issues
Start with some research and establish the main issues. To improve the health of your company and employees, you need to have a clear understanding of what the company’s key issues, current topics and trends are.
Examine your existing data like the top 10 reasons for absenteeism or stress leave. Which departments have a higher incidence of stress-related illnesses?
Finding out what it will cost the company to keep doing nothing will help make a stronger case for spending on employee wellness.
2. Be clear about your goals and the company’s interests
Providing wellness options for staff can take many forms. What is your company’s primary aim and what are they willing to do?
• A room for yoga and meditation
• A visiting yoga/meditation teacher on hire
3. Talk to staff and measure interest
Once you’ve figured out the lay of the land, talk to everyone at your company about what they want and need in a wellness programme. Develop a plan that employees want, to ensure that they’ll actively participate.
As with any other workplace policy, the best wellness programmes have input from all key stakeholders. Talk to multiple people from different departments to get a good idea of what will work, especially if you are a small company without a large budget.
4. Speak to Human Resources
Once you’re clear on your objectives and have the support of staff, speak with the human resources department and effectively communicate your employee wellness programme with everyone in the office.
Establish an employee wellness committee that includes representatives from each department at your company. Members of the committee can be responsible for getting everyone excited and committed to using the programme.
By getting your CEO on board, will help gain support to invest resources in the programme and for motivating employees to take part.
5. Track, measure and readjust
Develop a feedback system to support the long-term success of your employee wellness programme allowing for adjustments to be made.
Once your programme is in full swing, survey employees to gauge their feedback, whether they’re using it, and how it could be improved. Measure your ROI by looking at changes in employee absences and turnover rates, benefit costs and safety records.
It’s also a good idea to celebrate achievements. Recognise individual employee goals for better health and celebrate departmental improvements. Positive reinforcement can go a long way towards building support around the programme.
Implementing an employee wellness programme should be easy. It just needs time and commitment.
Anita Modok is Founder and CEO of Sydney Corporate Yoga, a global leading provider of yoga and meditation services in the workplace. For more information, visit sydneycorporateyoga.