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.