Here we go again! Another article on how a healthy employee is a happy employee and if we just start serving tofu in the lunchroom and cut the cables to the elevator so everyone has to take the stairs, we’ll have a fit, focused and productive staff and all will be right with the corporate world. Right?
Well, not exactly. The reality is that there are undeniable facts that relate workplace health and workplace wealth. Returns on investment have shown that for every dollar invested in employee health and wellness, returns from $2.30 to $10.10 can be measured via (and not limited to) reduced sick days, less WCB claims and increased productivity. So whether you are focused on the bottom line, or your philanthropic side is more concerned with being a good corporate citizen, it makes good dollars and sense to create a wellness program that will attract and retain great employees.
Further, companies in BC have the unique challenge of meeting the needs of the most active province in Canada. Businesses must meet the demands of the current workforce by adapting to and accommodating the increasingly complex lifestyles that current and potential employees have. The family structure is not the same as it was in previous years and this creates new stresses on individuals. When seeking employment, your future employees are giving consideration to physical and mental health along with financial compensation. Given the competitive nature of the market where all industries are competing for the best people, you are at risk of decreasing the potential talent pool by not fully realizing the competitive advantage of workplace wellness.
But how does the small to medium size business that recognizes the need for and advantage of initiating a wellness program balance it with the reality of budget constraints? The truth is, if a company is motivated enough, you are only limited to your creativity when it comes to designing and implementing a customized program for your business.
Here are 5 simple and cost-effective strategies:
1. Provide employees with time. What’s the number one reason people cite for not beginning a fitness program? Not enough time. Providing a flex-time option 1-3 days per week that allows for starting work 30 minutes later, leaving 30 minutes earlier or even just expanding a lunch break can go a long way to demonstrating to your staff that you value their health and well being.
2. Train for an event. It’s one thing to organize a group, get the shirts printed and show up on time to the Sun Run, but by going one step further and hiring a professional to train the group so they can safely progress up to the 10K is a nominal cost but a great example of your investment in your people.
3. Lunch and Learn. A common practice among progressive companies is to bring in a health or wellness practitioner from time to time to educate the staff on topics such as fitness, nutrition and stress management. Locating a personal trainer, nutritionist, or yoga instructor is a great start.
4. Subsidize gym memberships. Very few businesses can afford to build their own fitness facility but chances are there is a local YWCA, Community Centre or health club in close proximity to your office. Check with a fitness facility near you to see what kind of corporate rates and programs they offer. Whether you choose to subsidize a membership, offer them as incentives or factor it into an employee compensation plan, you have done your part by providing the opportunity.
5. Variety and fun! Yes, believe it or not, you can make health and fitness a fun and enjoyable experience. By offering a variety of options for your employees such as individual or group events, indoor or outdoor, physical or mental, you increase the likelihood of adherence and therefore enhance the results of your efforts.
As you can see, an investment in your employee’s health and wellness does not have to be complicated, daunting or cost prohibitive. By leveraging this competitive advantage to the fullest and offering simple solutions, you will increase workplace harmony, maximize productivity and reap the rewards to the bottom line.