By MostFit and AGF Wellness Founder Andrew Gavigan
With the rising cost of healthcare, increasing hours at work, decreasing hours of R&R, and a seemingly ever expanding population, it might not seem like our cumulative state of health, as a people, has much hope. But Workplace Wellness initiatives are becoming more popular and are one of the biggest tools we have available to make a dent in our lackluster fitness levels. There are two fairly simple steps to keep in mind when implementing any new wellness initiatives in a workplace:
Two of the top reasons people claim for neglecting exercise is lack of time, and high cost. Some of us are busier than others with work, family, kids, or any number of obligations. Fitness classes, trainers, and gym memberships might not match everyones budgets. Despite how important fitness is, a majority of us don't take any time to focus on our health.
This is where a workplace wellness program can make the most impact. The more readily accessible a workout is; the closer a piece of fruit is; the more reasons I have to get up out of my chair, the more likely I will be to get a significant amount of exercise and make better nutritional choices. Providing a fitness class, lead by a fitness instructor, on site will save an employee :30 minutes of travel to fitness facility, which alone helps eliminate one of the most often used excuses for not exercising' "i don't have enough time". Keeping fitness equipment and accessories on site will also increase participation. Intentionally planning meetings across the office forces people out of their desks for at least a short while. Supply fresh fruit delivery and not only will employees make better food choices but they will reduce trips to the store for snacks. Decrease barriers and people will immediately gain a much higher rate of wellness success.
If you are implementing a wellness program at your workplace you have to remember, you can't just 'set it and forget it'. Creating accessible initiatives will increase healthy behaviors, but in order to get the most out of a wellness program, it has to be excepted but the staff and promoted by the company. A fitness class won't help anyone if meetings are booked at the same time, or if employees are bashed for leaving their desks to attend. Creating a culture of wellness, via contests, employee ambassadors, fitness and nutrition tracking, healthier snack options, and executive support will increase a company's ROI significantly. After all, like any business venture, a wellness program should yield positive results.
Creating a wellness culture might look different depending on the type of business that implements it but there are always great options. Choosing a small handful of "ambassadors' or 'poster children' is one of the least expensive and most effective tools. Every company should be able to find at least one member of staff who enjoys and is passionate about health and fitness. Generally these people are excited to share their ideas about wellness and will help create programs and campaigns that will benefit the rest of the employees. In return for a year of that employees service the company can simply offer a free gym membership and a coupon to a sports massage.
Impacting people where they spend a majority of their time and energy, a place where they have a number of colleagues, peers, and friends, is the best way to influence healthy behaviors. Employers are more often making the investment in a wellness program in order to gain the many benefits of a healthy workforce. Research has shown that for every $1.00 an employer invests in a wellness program they can see a return of up to $3.27* in saved health care fees, increased productivity, and employee longevity.
Contact AGFWellness for help implementing a wellness program at your company
*Baicker, Katherine, David Cutler and Zirui Song “Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings” Health Affairs vol. 29 (2010): 304-311