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3 Things Your Organization’s Wellness Initiative Should Do … and How to Do Them

HR departments, take note: A recent United Healthcare survey found that 70% of employees stated having interest in taking proactive steps to improve their health.

In a recent episode of Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast, we spoke with Leigh Stringer, workplace design expert and author of The Healthy Workplace, about current wellness and ergonomics trends in businesses. Here are three main takeaways from that conversation.

1. Address more than the physical

Wellness doesn’t stop with physical fitness; it includes mental health and ergonomics, too. As the millennial generation continues to grow into the workforce, so will the investment in programs on emotional wellness. As studies continue to reveal the connection between burnout, turnover and mental health, organizations will invest more in meditation, yoga, on-site counselors and other initiatives.

An organic physical environment can contribute to a workplace that nurtures mental health. Taking small, inexpensive steps – like placing plants, fountains and other natural decorations around the office – can be psychologically restorative for your employees. Similarly, consider the “human factors” of how your people physically work, and address them – for example, providing furniture like standing desks.

2. Boost satisfaction and productivity

Whether you are a CEO, cab driver or teacher, studies – such as those from the team of academicians Robert Karasek and Töres Theorell – show that the more control one has regarding how, when and where the work gets done, the more productive you are. Even better, the more control, the less likelihood of heart disease – meaning health care costs decrease as well.

In the episode, Stringer mentions a recent study analyzing the benefits of various company wellness programs. Among its findings: Many of the organizations have enjoyed an ROI as high as sixfold. This payoff is often difficult to see in the short term, but the long-term benefits are exciting.

 3. Effective wellness programs change culture

Like many a New Year’s resolution, health and wellness initiatives often fall flat when an external change occurs, such as a location move that disrupts the routine. In order for these initiatives to achieve a long-lasting impact, a change first must happen internally: with the culture. It also must start with leadership, to engage employees and hold the organization accountable to the plan.

Otherwise, a quick fix may “feel like lipstick or just something you’re adding on at the end of the day. It’s not real,” Stringer stated, “and there’s not an investment from the company. It’s not a part of who they are. Until we get that culture piece in place and leaders decide to change the way they and their teams work, these programs won’t be treated seriously by employees. It does make a difference.”

With January all but over, don’t let 2018 get away from you. Examine your culture today and begin building a wellness strategy that begins with buy-in from your organization’s upper levels.

Learn more about workplace wellness and ergonomics trends by listening to our full interview with Leigh Stringer.