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What Your Wellness Program May Overlook

Wellness programs tend to emphasize exercise and eating right.  We certainly can’t criticize that, but make sure to take into account the following aspects of wellness that affect an employee’s entire state of health and wellbeing.  A holistic approach to wellness is one that emphasizes carePerspective Man for the whole person.

Stress management

Stress is linked to a number of health conditions and impacts productivity and emotional stability.  Obesity, heart disease, depression, digestive issues, and sleep disorders are all linked to high levels of stress.

You can design your benefits plan to allow employees to pay for stress reliving activities like massages and acupuncture out of a pre-tax savings account.  Even encouraging people to take breaks throughout the day, leave the office for lunch, or take a quick walk outside can help manage stress levels in your organization.

Some chiropractic clinics will also sponsor a free massage day in exchange for the publicity it gets them among your employees.  We just had one a few weeks ago hosted by Brookfield Chiropractic and everyone here loved it!

Work life balance

Related to stress management is the concept of work life balance.  Working long hours contributes to depression – those who work an average of 11 hours per day are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than those with a more moderate work schedule.  [Along with this comes increased health care costs – Prozac and therapy sessions aren’t cheap!]

We of course want employees to work hard and do their best work, but make sure they’re getting enough personal time in so that their emotional health doesn’t suffer.  Too many employees putting in long hours can be a cultural issue – at many companies, staying late and coming in early is rewarded and even expected.  Make sure to reward employees based on productivity, not hours logged, and make a point to let people know that they aren’t expected to making a habit of staying late.

Sleeping more… and better

According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 7 percent of Americans get eight hours of sleep a night.  Although it’s hard for you as an employer to impact the amount of shut eye your employees log, promoting work life balance can help achieve this.

Another wellness topic to discuss with your employees is sleep apnea, a condition where people stop breathing in the middle of the night, preventing them from entering a state of deep sleep.  This condition is often undiagnosed: anestimated 80-90% of those with the condition are unaware they are affected by it. 

Financial stability

Financial stability is an issue for many people, and contributes to an individual’s total health and wellness.  One wellness idea is to plan a Lunch n’ Learn with a financial advisor who can offer tips to employees on planning for their financial future.

study by the Gallup Organization also found that it’s not just having money that contributes to your financial wellbeing – it’s how you spend that money.  Spending money to create an experience or a memory (like taking the family to Disney World) can have a major impact on your overall happiness and health.  Beyond educating employees on how to save more, invest wisely, etc. consider bringing in a travel agent or someone who can help employees make the most of their money by creating a meaningful experience that they can use to improve their wellbeing.

Commuter stress

Countless studies show that the stress of long commutes can really take a toll on people.  One study measures the heart rates and blood pressures of commuters and found that a commute to work raises both numbers higher than fighter pilots going into battle or riot police officers in training exercises.

A wellness effort targeting commuter stress could help facilitate carpools for employees, or in businesses where it is feasible, encourage telecommuting. 

A wellness program that emphasizes holistic wellness rather than just exercising and eating right is likely to have the greatest impact with employees.  All of these factor into our total wellbeing and our ultimate health, happiness, and productivity at work.


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Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing HR / Employee Benefits