25 Ways to Improve Workplace Wellness


A fortnight back, I received a distress call from one of my colleagues in the middle of the night. She had been feeling a bit under the pump for many days now. A looming pilot project was not helping either. It was only when faced with the spectre of a hospital stay did we both realize how important workplace wellness can be.

So, can corporate wellness programs be made to work better to tackle this problem? Given the stressful workplace atmospheres of modern times and demanding schedules as well as a global workforce, some basic steps need to be part of every corporate setup. A compulsory fitness centre with mandatory participation, healthy food options, and meaningful breaks from work, travel options and workplace arranged outings to break monotony are some ways to improve workplace wellness.

It is a fact that a major part of an employee’s day is spent around work. This would include commuting to and from work, actually doing the work, and then possibly carrying back some of it home as well at times. This means they are compulsorily involved with their work for very long hours. It needs no rocket science to understand that monotony can easily set in. There are bound to be health issues in the long run as well that involve both body and mind wellness. If a person is not feeling quite up to it, the first thing to be affected is efficiency and productivity. Does this bode well for the employers? Most certainly not!

It took companies and corporations a while to understand the role they might play in boosting workplace wellness as well. The fact that the majority of the onus is on them rather than their employees was established over time. Keeping the health and prosperity of their company in mind in the long run, instituting wellness goals and programs seemed profitable.  

In what is a welcome change, increasingly employers are acknowledging the fact that a happy and wellness infused workforce is imperative to the overall health of the company itself. Changes are beginning to be seen in workplaces that are positive moves in this particular direction. The best part is that workplace wellness is a concept that needs no great investment on part of the companies concerned. It is the thoughtfulness and willingness to inculcate a healthy work environment that appeals to the employees.

As we found out from our experience, there is still a lot to be done in this aspect. Acknowledging this requirement is a great way to begin.

25 ways to achieve workplace wellness

1. Fitness Center/Gym Membership

2. Provide Motivation

3. Encourage Team Bonding

4. Unplanned Celebrations

5. Encourage Mobility

6. Provide Watercooler Moments

7. Encourage Individual Growth

8. Provide Standing Workstations

9. Town Hall Meetings

10. Introduce Meditation

11. Maternity/paternity leave

12. Introduce Healthy Eating

13. Corporate Health Checkups

14. Allow Remote Working

15. Support Volunteering

16. Improve Office Lighting

17. Good Ergonomics

19. Confidential Counselling

19. Work-Life Balance

20. Stress Management

21. Encourage walking and running

22. Smoke Free Policy

23. Pre-Work Stretching

24. Provide Support When Unwell

25. Provide Support Groups

 

1. A conscious and knowing employer must go all out to establish a functional fitness routine centre in the premises. Setting up of basic fitness equipment is definitely the onus of the company. It is seen in many cases that there is not much active participation by employees even when a fitness centre is present. This may be due to many factors, from being frowned upon for time spent there to simply not having time or not being motivated enough. Here too, the employer must step in and provide encouragement and at times, make it mandatory to participate in some kind of a fitness routine if required. Once more and more people participate in a routine that does not need them to seek membership at some outside gym or require them to undergo extra travel for fitness’ sake, the numbers will swell as will the overall wellness at the workplace.

2. There are bound to be people in the workforce who aspire to pursue self-improvement courses or attend workshops to learn new tools. It is in the nature of such individuals who strive to add more to their fund of knowledge. These should not be perceived as threats by the company. In fact providing motivation to such people will encourage them to seek ways to better themselves and contribute to furthering the company goals. A sabbatical with incentives is in fact a great way to encourage them to grow as well as remain loyal to the parent company. It might be to another city altogether or some remote location for a period of time but will boost the mindset of the employeesOpens in a new tab. and encourage them to do more.

3. Man is a social animal after all. Working with the same group of people day in and day out is bound to create new friendships. Given that such people might go on to work as part of a team it is good on part of the employer to encourage bonding. When such friends are set to work togetherOpens in a new tab., they tend to feed off the positive energies from each other and produce great outcomes due to their excellent communication and understanding. Another kind of system that could be introduced is the buddy sponsorship of some sort. If any employee feels they will work that much better with an ex-colleague or some other friend they know of, the present management could do well to consider luring that person into the workforce to add impetus to their own cause while rewarding their own employee for recommending a buddy.

team bonding

4. Unplanned celebrations are spontaneous and ought to be encouraged once in a while. For example, a sudden win by some favourite sports team is often a cause for great joy and an innate need for celebrations. Or someone achieving a personal goal or announcing a new childbirth. Keeping in mind that everyone is responsible enough for celebrations not to go out of hand, a little dance or some other form of impromptu celebration is a great break from the monotony of work. In addition it leaves the workforce full of oxytocin for some time to come.

5. Everyone knows the cons of sedentary jobs, which is what many jobs have become now. Finding new ways of making sure people get to walk around every now and then is a good idea to improve wellness. Companies could think of holding ‘walking meetings’ as part of this initiative. In addition, encouraging people to get up and loosen themselves at regular intervals ought to be promoted as well to keep those limbs going. Suggesting something like say, “How about a walk around the corner while we discuss this or that” combines a walk as well as get some business done. This way a walk need not become rigid and routine but something where you participate in a constructive manner towards goal attainment.

6. Water cooler moments can get really stretched and extended in most workplaces. This is where the chatter and face-to-face exchanges occur. It is okay to make sure everyone gathering around keeps track of time, while ensuring employees have some moments of real interaction too. Foraying into subjects beyond the ones related to work help immensely in refreshing the mind. A hearty laugh, a jab in the ribs, and some fun with colleagues out of the virtual world does a world of good. People are sure to get back to their workstations feeling refreshed and ready for challenges.

7. Companies are waking up to the need of encouraging individual growth at work as a positive spin to improving bottom lines. Arranging workshops on location and more preferably, in other cities or countries even, provides the much needed impetus to people. It is perfectly okay to set criteria of inclusion as well. This will end up motivating individuals to do their best and qualify for such programs. An individual who is striving to do well is ultimately helping the company grow; this is something that needs to be kept in mind all the time.

8. It has been found on studies that sitting prolonged periods is as bad as smoking. Awareness levels have increased among employers and employees on this. Promoting standing workstations is one great way of fighting this menace. Granted this means an overhauling of the entire ergonomics of the office at times, but it is a revolutionary thought that is gaining ground presently. Not many employees might be on board for this, however. A gradual phasing in of standing desks with alternative optionsOpens in a new tab. still open is a good way to boost slowing metabolisms and cutting out sedentary risks at the workplace.

9. Town hall meetings are a great way to ensure workplace wellness as well. Call it by whatever name you will, this concept works well for employees. A free exchange of ideas, grievances and suggestions is what it is all about. Knowing that the employer is providing a sounding board is an assurance in itself for employees. Being able to freely exchange opinions without the fear of consequences goes a long way in relieving stress and simmering tensions within.

10. The benefits of meditation are too numerous and too well known to overlook. Introducing meditation as a part of employee rejuvenation is a mantra that most corporate groups are encouraging. Stress reduction, improved focus, inner wellness, and a sorted outlook towards life that meditation can help with are directly beneficial to the company as well. As more and more lifestyle gurus propagate the positives of meditation, it is time to harness its powers and put them to good use. It is a good idea to invite such life coaches into company premises and arrange a talk with the employees. This could be followed by one to one interaction in order to clarify doubts and promote wellness. Meditation has been shown to calm the mind and remove stress. After all, these are the very qualities that employers look for in prospective employees.

meditation at work

11. Maternity/paternity leave is quite the norm at most workplaces and has been so for a long time now. It is expected that the company needs to stand by the would-be parent at a time when they are entering a new phase of their lives. Acknowledging the need for leave and the assurance of return to work at the position one left off is a must in order to ensure workplace wellness. The would-be parent ought not to feel stressed about whether their standing in the company will get eroded or if they will fit in into the scheme of things again. This assurance needs to come from the employer. Many workplaces, in fact, are beginning to understand the need for longer maternity/paternity leave as well, which is a most welcome development.

12. Wellness of a person encompasses many aspects – physical activity, mental alertness, healthy diet and enough rest. Office canteens are often known for providing food that caters more to the palate than to health parameters. A definitive step towards workplace wellness would be to introduce healthy eating. Having vegetarian, vegan and low-calorie organic foods to choose from will help promote health and wellness. Of course this can be better availed when healthy food is adopted as part of company policy. Food habits play a very important role in wellness and health. Providing employees with healthy eating options at the workplace addresses this to a great extent. Another rule that ought to be imposed is to discourage eating at workstations. Sedentary habits creep up when people know there is food at arm’s length. These invariably tend to be fast foods that do not spell health. Knowing that one has to necessarily walk up to the canteen in order to grab a mouthful can help deter the urge to reach out for junk food and up the wellness factor by leaps. In addition to cutting down on unhealthy food habits, it will require walking and being mobile as well.

13. Pursuance of health is not a one-off job, as everyone knows and understands. Doctors the world over insist on getting periodic health checks and follow-up visits in order to ensure one is in the pink of health. Most people shirk away from this thinking, ‘Oh I am fine’. Instituting mandatory corporate health checkups in tie-up with a leading medical facility will ensure people get this done. Some companies are known to allow the birthday month of each employee as the time span to get their annual health check-up done. This makes it easier for them as well as for the person concerned to remember and follow. Knowing that providing the company with an official update on their health status is a must will make them go for these annuals regularly. In addition it will instil the belief that the company really cares for their wellbeing. This feeling of trust also goes a long way in upping the workplace wellness factor.

14. Remote working once in a while is a wonderful way to ensure workplace wellness. Whether one acknowledges it or not, the sameness of a routine can get to most people. The same timings, the same food, the same water cooler, the same jokes and the same people can jade out the most enthusiastic worker. Providing workers with the option of remote work at times is a good wayOpens in a new tab. to charge up those batteries. A change of scene and the flexibility that remote work offers can spark off new ideas into a stale mind too. At times some situation in the family might require their presence at home but not bad enough to go on leave. Such instances can also be favourably considered as a case for work from home once in a while. There are umpteen ways to ensure this does not become a habit, like limiting the number of days one can avail this facility, to rule out any misuse.

15. Studies have proved that volunteering for causes is a sure way of ensuring mental wellness. It is a form of philanthropy where one is devoting one’s resources in the form of time and empathy to someone in need. Thankfully many corporate setups do have volunteering or philanthropy as part of their outreach programmes; which in turn means they should actively support volunteering on the part of their employees for earmarked programs. This will not only ensure success of their outreach programs but also encourage employee participation towards what is essentially a feel-good overture. Being able to give back to society creates a wonderful sense of satisfaction within that no wonder drug can provide.

encourage volunteering at work

16. Long hours hunched over computer screens, blue light emissions, confined indoors with stressful situations to deal with, all spell doom when it comes to wellness. How does one combat the obvious ills of the modern day workspaces in such cases? Building designs can be improved to harness as much natural light as possible. Nothing dampens spirits as much as glum lighting around their workstations or the office premisesOpens in a new tab. in general. Expert opinions to improve lighting need to sought and incorporated into the workspace. This will give the needed mood boost to people working long hours at office and help promote positivity and productivity in turn. It is not only bright lights that help; sometimes they can jar as well. Only an expert can create lighting to cater to moods Opens in a new tab.and times of the day in order to enhance mood.

17. Good ergonomics is another essential component to look into for workspace wellness. As has been repeatedly stressed upon, modern offices and work environments necessitate sedentary employees in many cases. Long hours of sitting can be as harmful to health as smoking is in the long run. It is imperative on part of the company to look into good ergonomics to eliminate some of the ills caused by prolonged sitting. In addition to promoting standing desks, having comfortable seating that can take care of the back, neck, knees, and eyes are things that need considerable thought. Institution of these can prove costly at the beginning but will surely pay rich dividends in terms of workplace wellness and overall efficiencyOpens in a new tab..

18. Stress at work is something that is now considered a part of work life. It cannot be wished away any longer. What counsellors and people in the know are offering are ways to deal with stress that can negate harmful effects. Confidential counselling sessions provided in a corporate setting can help a lot with managing stress for employeesOpens in a new tab.. Funnily enough, stress can arise from something as ordinary as the way the person in the next cubicle keeps shifting in his chair or snorts at work. There really is very little one can do about it but what little can be done in a meaningful way often gets expressed violently. This in turn adds to more stress. It is better to be able to confide to an uninvolved third party like a professional counsellor to better deal with problems, big or small, at workplace or otherwise.

19. A crucial element of workplace wellness is to ensure healthy work-life balance. A lot of companies are turning their focus on this area nowadays. Continuous stressful work days can throw perspectives out of the window, leading to overworked and unhappy employees. They go back home carrying this state of mind which does not help. They may come back to work the next day in a worse state of mind in fact. Needless to say, this will affect office environment directly and impact productivity negatively. No office would want that. Instead it is advisable that they dedicate time and thought into creating a healthier work-life balance for their employees. This will pay dividend in the long run for them. Incorporating outings and leisure breaks including the family or allowing more remote working opportunities are only a few ways to ensure better work-life balance.

20. Stress management is one of the biggest requirements in the present work scenario. There is no way one can eliminate stress. This fact has been accepted universally. The only way out here is improving response to stress in a way that benefits the person concerned. Stress is something no one is immune to – be it the employees or the employers. With the world becoming an increasingly global workplace and economies shrinking worldwide, there is ample reason for stress. Companies would do well to introduce periodic stress evaluation and managementOpens in a new tab. courses at the workplace. A person who can handle stress better will obviously add more value to the company as compared to someone crippled by stress.

encourage employees to walk and run

21. Outdoor pursuits are great for the mind, body and soul. Everyone knows that. When the management sets up incentives and activities to encourage walking and running it is a great push to workplace wellness. Not only to specific employees who are keen on these activities, but in general to inculcate the habit of running and walking as basic fitness routines. Mass participation in the form of events involving walking and/or running with other fun activities in the form of a day out is a good idea. Making it a fun outing that involves family, joint participation and gifts and gala can actually make people look forward to increased participation. The ‘feel-good’ factor that such events generate, go a long way in promoting workplace bonhomie and wellness.

22. Smoke free policy is a very encouraging step towards overall wellness. Many offices have enforced a strict ban on smoking on their premises while others provide uncomfortable ‘smoking zones’ for smokers. This goes a long way to discourage this harmful habit. The fact that one is going against an official smoke-free policy by continuing to indulge, knowing that it is frowned upon and might impact negatively on future prospects, can in fact encourage smokers to take steps to overcome. Companies having smoke-free policy need to see to it there is adequate support to the smoker in their efforts at quitting. From providing healthier alternatives to counselling and incentives, there are many innovative and impactful means to ensure this transition is a happy one.

23. It has become a norm in some workplaces to have a mandatory pre-work stretch-out before one begins another long day. This is especially good for places that involve a lot of sitting through a very long day. The harmful health effects of sedentary workstations have been written about and discussed on multiple forums. Everyone involved with such work conditions coupled with stressors and irregular hours knows so already. When the management takes up the drive to begin the day with a stretch-out, this makes it mandatory for everyone. In turn it ensures employees begin their day with loosened up muscles and a relaxed mind space. This is extremely essential for overall wellness. It is bound to reflect positively on employee wellness as well as the final balance sheets in the long run.

24. It is but natural for people to fall ill and report unwell over a period of time. The lucky ones get away with minor ailments while some others are not so lucky. It is in times of ill health that employees need the peace of mind. A company that supports when unwell takes care of this aspect very well. Knowing that the management is solidly behind you not only in terms of insurance plans but also flexibility of hours and other support, goes a long way in early recuperation and rehabilitation. If one is always worried if his or her job will be at stake because they had to take leave on medical grounds will do their recovery no good. Being there for the employee goes a long way in promoting wellness.

25. Not only smoking or alcohol cessation, there can be many issues bothering employees in an organization. Often they find it difficult to open up to someone, ending up wondering if they are the only ones struggling with problems. There could be issues unrelated to office that are weighing down someone. Does this come within the company purview, one might wonder! It does indeed if performance levels drop. There is of course a fine line between what is personal and what is not, but trained professionals can handle that very well. Companies on their part could encourage support groups within the office for multiple such problems. This will not only promote wellness but ensure more acceptance and open-mindedness about problems plaguing people.

Related questions

How much does employee participation matter? There are any numbers of suggestions that can be brought forth for improving workplace wellness. As recent studies have shown, more and more workplaces are opening up to suggestions and inputs from employees themselves in order to enhance the work environment. Obviously all of this is aimed ultimately at the prosperity of the company, while keeping employee wellness in mind. However, for all such moves to succeed, the basic requirement is employee participation. And it is not just languid participation, but full throttle. Otherwise the entire purpose is lost. It might not be easy to get everyone on board at once.

  • – Try to make wellness participation activities fun.
  • – Mixing up the outdoors with indoor methods work best.
  • – Incentivise participation in order to ensure everyone joins in.
  • – Individual encouragement might be in order for those who are unwilling.
  • – Get the point of wellness across.
  • – Professional wellness and life coaches could be brought in to set the ball rolling.
  • – Light-hearted fun is always the best way to break the monotony of work.

 

Do plants help in increasing wellness? Plants have a positive effect on humans in more ways than one. Humankind has evolved from being in proximity with nature for eons. This association remains alive in the human brain. In closed office spaces that are primarily glass and steel structures, the presence of a green corner helps immensely. In fact there are specific plants that are more beneficial than others when placed strategically around workplaces. Aloe vera, spider plant, ficus and peace lily are cases in point. Of course it is ideal if workplaces can enclose an open area of greenery or a tiered garden as well.

As can be seen from above, there are numerous ways to promote wellness at work. Present your ideas and experiences in an assertive yet non-combative way when interacting with the management. It is often difficult for people sitting at the apex to gauge ground realities. Making them aware is a good way to furthering your own cause.

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