But, according to China Gorman, U.S. and Global CEO of Great Place to Work Institute, “Grappling with extreme increases in health care costs and having to pass more and more of those costs on to employees and their families, has led to an increased emphasis on preventative care and programs that can encourage a healthier diet and lifestyle. Healthy employees are more productive and present at work, but also more productive and present in their personal lives as well.”
We’ll have a wheatgrass shot to that!
A growing number of employers have been investing in preventative health and wellness incentives over the past five years, according to SHRM’s 2013 Employee Benefits survey report. Specifically, more organizations have been offering health and lifestyle coaching, rewards and bonuses for completing health and wellness programs, onsite fitness classes, health care premium discount for getting an annual health risk assessment, and health care premium discount for participating in a wellness program.
Here are a few ways your workforce could benefit from some of the latest corporate wellness trends without breaking the bank (and a huge sweat).
Workout workspaces. The idea of having a treadmill desk sounds pretty intriguing, right? Not that it’s terribly different than watching a TV screen while working out at the gym, but this odd contraption has gained some buzz lately by offering employees the option to burn calories, work and gossip as opposed to just work and gossip. If this sounds like it’d be more of a distraction than anything else, there are myriad other options out there that allow employees to get in a quick workout — or at least the blood flowing — without ever leaving their desks.
Wearable tech. I came back from holiday break only to discover I’m the only one in my office who didn’t get a wearable fitness electronic for Christmas. (Thanks a lot, Santa.) Not only are these hot commodities in the world of fitness, but it turns out they’re making quite a splash in fashion circles as well by being made to look like stylish jewelry. So what does this have to do with you? Perhaps you can’t afford to buy each of your employees one of these fitness tracking devices, but odds are many of them already own one. Consider having some friendly office competitions where interested individuals or teams set certain fitness goals and are rewarded for it. Even the prospect of bragging rights can entice some people to participate.
Holistic health. Many companies today take a more macro approach to wellness by encouraging employees to engage in mind-body therapies such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and stress management programs. Such techniques are aimed at improving health holistically and have also been known to help decrease absenteeism and reduce stress, which can ultimately benefit employers who may think of holistic health as fluff. So even if you’re not in a position to offer a 24-hour fitness center on premise, consider offering employees flexible schedules so that they can fit in a bikram yoga session or attend a zumba class at a time that works best for them.
Alternative treatments. One way to get a chiropractor bent out of shape (get it?) is to call what they do an “alternative” treatment (just ask mine!), yet that’s what treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture and massage are widely categorized as in the U.S. — and therefore are often not covered by insurance providers. Still, many find these therapies non-intrusive and refreshingly effective to cure minor or ongoing aches and pains. Take the temperature of your employee population and if you find they would benefit from these types of treatments and that these therapies could potentially prevent more serious procedures, consider picking up some or all of the tab. A lower-to-no cost alternative could be to invite experts to conduct educational sessions or seminars to educate people about the benefits of such treatments.
Better breakroom options. Remember when Jamie Oliver tried to charm American youth with his British accent and healthier food options, but logged a failure of epic proportions with the latter? Still, employers should take a cue from the chipper chef and at least attempt to offer the option of healthier substitutes for your traditional breakroom snacks — perhaps a little less pop, chips and cookies and a little more water, health bars and fruit.
Tell us in the comments below: What health and wellness options does your company offer employees? Which have you found to be the most effective or cost effective?