Corporate Wellness 101: 4 Keys to Creating a Healthy Workplace

Posted by on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 with Comments Off on Corporate Wellness 101: 4 Keys to Creating a Healthy Workplace Comments

With health care costs rising alongside obesity rates (and related chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease), many companies are turning to corporate wellness programs to encourage employees to take better care of themselves. Wellness plans, when done right, can have a significant return on investment — many estimates suggest around $3 in savings for every $1 spent, mostly in terms of decreased health costs and lower absenteeism. The good news for smaller businesses is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or hire pricey consultants to achieve results.

Yesterday we talked about how America’s happiest companies make health and wellness a key principle in their workplaces. Today, we’ve outlined four key areas that are crucial to starting a successful corporate wellness program in any workplace.

healthy noodles and tofu lunch

Provide healthy catering options at work lunches — not just pizza and cupcakes.
Image source: flickr user foodswings

1) Healthy food

Weight loss is central to many wellness programs, but changing employees’ eating habits is usually one of the trickiest goals to meet. Always keep the conversation positive and start simply, by making the office a haven of healthy foods. For business lunches or organized office meals, provide plenty of healthy catering options like hearty salads, sushi, whole grain pastas, and abundant vegetables. For daily dining and office snacks, provide a regular delivery of fresh fruit in the break room, along with wholesome snacks like nuts, air-popped popcorn, and whole grain crackers with almond butter or low-fat cheese. Don’t ban cupcakes or pizzas, but gently encourage employees who like to bring in treats to keep their coworkers’ weight loss goals in mind. These changes are small, but go a long way towards creating a health-minded culture in the lunch room.

balance ball desk chair

Get creative about bringing fitness into the daily workplace routine!
Image source: flickr user MeganMorris

2) Fitness options

If a fancy on-site gym isn’t in the cards, there are several ways to encourage employees to make exercise a part of their daily routine. Ask the local YMCA or fitness club if they will offer a company-wide discount to employees, and cover the cost of any initial activation fees if you can’t afford to pay for the entire membership. Organize an office walking club that goes on regular outings during lunch breaks or just before the workday begins, and provide every member with a personalized water bottle and pedometer. If your company can afford it, hold a competition for meeting fitness goals — pitting departments against one another in a friendly way can lead to increased results, peer support, and stronger, healthier teams.

3) Smoking cessation

Along with weight loss, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for chronic diseases, and another main target of corporate wellness programs. However, simply banning smoking at the workplace isn’t enough. Many health organizations, like the American Cancer Society, offer smoking cessation programs tailored to the office. Incentives for participation, like an extra day of vacation time or reduced health premiums, have often shown to be quite effective.

cooking class in an office kitchen

Taking time out of the workday to focus on wellness will lead to increased engagement.
Image source: flickr user Clearwater Public Library System

4) Leader participation

One slightly unexpected key to workplace wellness success? The boss has to be involved. After studying the commonalities of successful corporate wellness programs, Harvard Business Review concluded: “If the CEO makes time for exercise, for instance, employees will feel less self-conscious about taking a fitness break.” When the leaders in the company lead by example to make wellness a daily focus, it becomes part of the company’s culture, and employees are more likely to embrace the idea. Make it OK to take time for wellness: schedule a monthly group hike during the last hour of a workday, or have a chef come in to lead a healthy cooking class one morning (and make sure the management team attends). The investment of time will pay off in spades when it comes to long-term health!

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When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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