During the years between 2019 and 2020, 38.8 million working days were lost due to employee sickness or injury. In combination, lost workdays cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year. However, the effect on individual businesses is also sharply felt, seen as team members will be increasingly stretched without all hands on deck.
Some of the top reasons for workplace absences include minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, headaches and stomach upsets. Other common reasons include stress and musculoskeletal injuries.
Given employees spend most of their time at work, could the workplace itself be the answer to preventing illnesses and injuries? Well-being experts certainly think so, as wellness programs are now being introduced to help combat lost productivity, as well as improve employees’ overall job satisfaction.
Here’s an overview of what a wellness program entails to shed light on this new way of working life.
What Is A Wellness Program?
Wellness programs are a series of preventative measures aimed at maintaining employee health and wellbeing. They are designed to maximise productivity while simultaneously boosting job satisfaction, leading to both a happier and healthier workplace.
The aim is to consider all possible factors that could lead to an employee taking time off including both mental and physical health conditions. Wherever possible, the company must make improvements to support employees as much as possible.
How To Implement A Workplace Wellness Program
- Establish the goals of the program
- Determine a budget and estimate the ROI
- Include employees within the process so that their wellbeing needs will be met
- Assign a wellbeing manager who will oversee the program
- Decide on which activities or events are most suitable
- Keep an eye on data protection and privacy laws where individual health conditions are concerned
- Organise employee feedback to ensure program remains on track
There are so many things that can cause a person to become physically or mentally unwell. Educating your employees is not designed to feel like a lecture, more to be informative and supportive so that they have the tools to become the best versions of themselves.
Health spans so many different areas, so it’s worth consulting some experts to offer a broad approach to your wellness program.
Also, referring to data in relation to the nature of employee absences is a great place to start. While this information cannot become public, it can point you in the right direction as to what issues your employees are facing, and how the company can respond through its wellness efforts.
A common phrase sadly attributed to working in an office is ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Though, this could also apply to other professions such as the transport industry where workers spend most of their time sitting down.
Instead, workplaces should look to offer opportunities for movement wherever possible. Simple steps include encouraging people to take the stairs by listing the number of calories they will burn by doing so. Though, any opportunity to burn some serious calories through cardio or other forms of heartier exercise is going to help alleviate stress and counteract the effects of sitting all day the most.
Yoga and pilates can be particularly beneficial for preventing musculoskeletal problems. Desk work especially isn’t great for the spine, and forward head posture along with rounded shoulders can create pain and disc problems. However, even a basic stretching routine and more awareness of posture can prevent and also correct such problems.
Discussions around mental health have come on leaps and bounds in recent times, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t plenty of work to be done. In the workplace especially, people naturally feel reluctant to admit they are struggling through the fear of this affecting their professional reputation, so every effort companies can make to eliminate this fear is a huge step in the right direction.
Staff canteens aren’t always the healthiest of places where food choices are concerned. In addition, the business location may be near to fast food outlets that aren’t helping matters either.
As well as education about making healthier choices, making healthy yet equally delicious food readily available is a necessary culture shift. If the food seems exciting and genuinely tasty, it’s going to go down much better than a plain-looking salad, so now is the time to get creative and inspire those palates.
In addition, supplementation can help boost essential vitamins and nutrients alongside healthier dietary choices. When vitamin levels are at an optimum level, your employees will feel more energised during the day and get a better quality of sleep at night.
Holding wellness events is a great way to introduce employees to the notion of taking care of themselves. Such events can have taster demonstrations and offer a chance to meet different experts in various fields. All of which is not only a great way to encourage team bonding, but also shows your commitment towards improving your employee’s health and wellbeing.
To Sum Up
Wellness management programs are a huge undertaking that even one post can’t fully sum up. However, they are well worth the investment is seen as without healthy and most importantly happy employees, your business cannot reach its potential.
Recent shifts in working models have also proven that employees understandably value downtime to recharge their batteries and spend time with their families. Hence, being chained to a desk and being expected to check emails at all hours isn’t a concept that’s acceptable anymore.
Companies that embrace wellness are not only forward-thinking but also look attractive to prospective applicants. So in essence, everyone wins when physical health and mental wellbeing are made a priority in the workplace.