Workplace Wellness: Steps to Creating a Culture of Good Health

If you want your employees to “be well”, you’re going to have to take a proactive approach.

By now, company leaders realize they can’t simply tell their employees to “be well” and then expect all will actually be well.

At the October meeting of the Northeast Ohio Safety Council, we will discuss the importance of wellness programs and offer some strategic tips on how any company can easily ensure a successful program that benefits everyone from the top on down.

RELATED: Learn more about the Northeast Ohio Safety Council

Total Worker Health® (TWH) is an approach that includes policies, programs and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.

A culture of good health will amplify the safety culture that is most likely already in place in your company. Successful wellness programs can bring positive results to employees and leadership alike, such as:

1. Better employee engagement and improved morale

2. Lower healthcare and workers’ compensations costs

3. Increased productivity

RELATED: The Tangible Benefits of Workplace Wellness

There are some strategic steps to making a wellness program a key business focus at any company. Appropriate leadership staff can successfully implement these programs by:

1. Adding wellness policies to existing company policies, mission and vision statements in support of a healthful workplace: healthy snacks in the vending machines, no-tobacco policies, reminders to employees to get up from their desks and move, etc.

2. Applying marketing principles: Treat your program like a product you are selling. Make sure you’re developing and circulating materials that promote your health policies.

3. Focusing on benefits over features: What do employees hope to gain from participating?

4. Developing an incentive plan to entice employees to buy into your wellness program. Consider your workforce when coming up with ideas. Perhaps your staff would be more motivated by paid time off rather than money in their pockets or gift cards.

But, as we all know, buy-in needs to come from the top and leadership teams should be obvious supporters of the wellness initiatives. They can illustrate their commitment by engaging in several easy tactics:

1. Holding walking meetings

2. Setting aside specific time for exercise

3. Paying for smoking cessation programs

4. Adding specific PTO for wellness appointments

Leadership support is so important. Taking a couple of minutes to jump on the company treadmill during lunchbreaks or choosing a salad over a cheeseburger at a working lunch meeting can go a long way. The biggest mistake a company can make is launching a wellness program when there is opposition in the upper levels of management. When leaders show they are advocates for the program and encourage by example, suddenly health and wellness are seen as genuine organizational priorities.

RELATED: Workplace wellness strategies you need to know

Traditional occupational safety and health protection programs have primarily concentrated on ensuring that work is safe and that workers are protected from the harms that arise from work itself. Total Worker Health® explores opportunities to not only protect workers, but also advance their health and well-being by targeting the conditions of work.

Imagine a workplace where it’s not simply that employees leave at the end of their shift in the same condition they arrived, but they leave in a better condition.

Shanna Dunbar, RN, is founder and president of Workplace Health Inc.

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  • Next up: 3(ish Minutes): Workplace Wellness Strategies
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  • 3(ish Minutes): Workplace Wellness Strategies

    Here's how to get your employees on board with your wellness plan.

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  • Next up: Your How-To Guide on Engaging Millennials in the Workplace
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  • Your How-To Guide on Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

    If you give them face time and take action on their ideas, you’ll be well on the road to engaging your millennial workers.

    In my last blog post, I dived into what the data tells us who millennials are, their traits, how they like to work and more.

    There were three main points that I made:

    Point No. 1: They want to make a difference.

    Point No. 2: They are achievement-oriented.

    Point No. 3: They stay in positions for only 1.8 years on average.

    So, now that you know who they are, let’s jump into how do you engage them.

    Step one: Face time (and I don’t mean on your iPhone)

    First, “talk” to them. Sure, millennials grew up in a tech savvy world, but they still appreciate the opportunity for some face-to-face time, especially if it comes with one of two things:

    • Face time with the CEO; and
    • the opportunity to do one of their favorite things: make change.

    If talking to each millennial isn’t realistic, send out a survey or poll to ensure their voice is heard. This ties back to the first point I made above: They want to make a difference.

    Step two: Take action

    Next, once you have some feedback, show that you are taking it serious. Each company will have to do what works best for them in terms of showing millennials that their opinions matter, but here are some initial thoughts that don’t have to cost a lot.

    • Form a task-force to address the issues raised. Engage these Millennials by making them a part of the team. This ensures their voices are heard, plus gives the opportunity to manage a special project or task.
    • Develop some type of leadership development program. If you are a smaller company, you are likely not going to be able to create a robust program in house, so outsource it. Again, ask the millennials about what topics they’d like to learn about, what they are aspiring to do, etc. and give them the ball to run with. Ask them to report back their findings and create a plan. It might be as simple as each individual participating in two events per year, to a professional development budget or even outsourcing to organizations like Engage! Cleveland that specialize in this for a nominal fee.
    • Recognize their hard work.I don’t mean just in the work place, but on these special initiatives they are engaging in. It doesn’t need to be a promotion, but maybe a certificate of recognition, a half day day of PTO or a shout out at a staff meeting. Make sure you are recognizing the extra effort.
    • Encourage them to participate in things outside of the workplace. Help them engage in their community and with their peers. Millennials wants this and are incredibly happy when employers support it. I am not talking about the typical stiff, awkward networking events that some employers’ minds immediately jump to. Let them pick.
    • Take them to that big client meeting. There is no better way to engage them than by giving them a seat at the table to ensure their voice is heard.

    What’s your strategy for engaging the young professionals in your workplace? Use the social media sharing buttons at the top of this article to tell us all about it.

    Ashley Basile Oeken is president of Engage! Cleveland, a nonprofit whose mission is to attract, engage and retain young, diverse talent to the Greater Cleveland area. Learn more about her organization’s work by clicking here.

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  • Next up: Your Workspace Says a Lot about Your Company
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  • Your Workspace Says a Lot about Your Company

    Your workspace is more than just desks, chairs, and file cabinets. It’s the way you want your business to be perceived, by your employees as well as your customers/clients who enter the space. It’s a blueprint to maximize workflow, and allow employees to be more efficient. It’s your company’s brand aesthetic, productivity, safety and comfort all rolled into one. Your office design is an opportunity to demonstrate to the employees and customers what you stand for—your brand identity, company values, and culture.

    Your workspace is more than just desks, chairs, and file cabinets. It’s the way you want your business to be perceived, by your employees as well as your customers/clients who enter the space. It’s a blueprint to maximize workflow, and allow employees to be more efficient. It’s your company’s brand aesthetic, productivity, safety and comfort all rolled into one. Your office design is an opportunity to demonstrate to the employees and customers what you stand for—your brand identity, company values, and culture.

    If you are a company leader looking to define, or redefine your company’s culture, a good place to begin is to redesign your workspace. But where does one start in selecting office furniture? If you want a workspace that communicates your brand identity and company values, you have to look inside the heart of your company, before looking at your physical space. Ask yourself what is important to you as an organization. Do you value collaboration among team members? You may want to avoid cubicles in favor of more modular work stations without walls. Do you want to facilitate innovation? An open office plan promotes creativity and innovation, as well as build a sense of community because it presents more opportunity for spontaneous conversations, where innovative solutions are often born.

    In addition, you must ask yourself how your employees on your team interact with one another. Do they work in pairs or in small groups? You may wish to create small breakout areas with lounge furniture where employees can get comfortable, and the ideas can flow. Are your teams static, or do they change dynamically based on the project?

    These days, many companies are creating open office plans, and designing with modular pieces to create a fluid workspace that can be rearranged and repurposed as your team grows and as your needs change. Modular furniture can make a workplace more functional. Workstations that are comfortable and functional will help employees feel valued and engaged.

    When it comes to comfort, choose durable pieces with solid core material and higher quality surfaces. You may be tempted to opt for inexpensive task chairs to save some cash, but investing in quality seating will make for happier employees. Standing Desks provide a sense of freedom. Employees will stay comfortable and energized for longer, and be more productive when they are comfortable in their space. When an employee sees that the employer cares about their personal comfort, this translates into positive feelings about their company as a whole. And that’s where company culture starts.

    Consider enlisting the help of an expert. Through COSE’s Office Depot Savings Program you have access to a wide selection of furniture in traditional, causal and transitional, and contemporary styles, as well as other essential items such as filing and storage solutions, lighting, and seating. Workspace Interiors by Office Depot can partner with you to provide you with all the furniture items and solutions your workplace needs from one single source.  

    Shawna Stacey, Business Development Manager for Workspace Interiors by Office Depot, works regularly with business owners and managers to create their new environment. In addition to furniture, Workspace Interiors by Office Depot offers space planning, design, project management and installation.  

    “No matter what stage you are in with your project, you can rely on us for a range of turn-key planning and installation services,” says Shawna. “Since no two projects are exactly alike, we work closely with you right from the start, to assess your needs, establish the project parameters, and develop a plan that gives you exactly what you are looking for. We stay focused on your business, your budget and your timeline as we coordinate and trouble shoot the entire project.” 

    It’s your workplace—want to make it shine?  Contact Shawna Stacey, Workspace Interiors by Office Depot, at 216.939.5044 or

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