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Wellness in the Workplace

Most of us have a hectic pace of life. We get up, go to work, work for 10 hours, go home and wait for a decent time to go to bed. And we repeat this schedule 6 days a week for the entire year. When you add community service, your kid’s recital, some family reunion and friendly gathering, you end up spending your weekend in bed trying to rest and get physically ready for another working week. Even when you are young, this way of life is not very productive and in time will harm your overall health, social and family life. There’s got to be some work/life balance, otherwise you might not live to see the day when you’ll have to choose between your work and your family. Unfortunately, this corporate world doesn’t leave us with many options and eventually we all get sucked in into the working machinery. For personal profit, some companies and organizations try to implement programs for wellness in the workplace. Many of them bind their employees to sign wellness program forms or pay high fines of around 500 dollars. Others force them to make endless biometric screens and frequent CT scans, radiation that may actually harm employees who are already in fragile health. On the other hand, there are wellness programs, especially in small companies that work best for employees as well as employers. Whether you are one or the other, you have to realize that without your health, effectiveness at work is impossible, so you have to do your best to achieve the most functional working environment.

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Wellness at the Workplace for Employers

If you are the CEO, director or any type of senior executive in your company or business, it’s your job to make sure the working setting is comfortable, functional and fair, for both management and staff. You can find many already prepared programs that will help you to implement wellness at the workplace, but most of them are very general and not very practical for every office or business. Especially smaller companies, with not more than 50 employees will find fixed wellness programs too rigid and biased. This is the right time to say that one size doesn’t fit all, so you should look into your company policies and find the most fitting solution. In Scotland, many companies banned smoking not only during working hours, but after work as well. This could be very counterproductive and force the staff to work stressed, reluctant or even leave their jobs. Weight management programs are a very good way to start, as long as you don’t post the BMI chart of your employees in the middle of the office. Not everyone feels good about their body and being overweight for some people is a lot of emotional and social stress. So start thinking about your employees and figure out a way to help them achieve a balanced physical, emotional, mental, environmental and spiritual state. Before you go and implement any new rules, a good policy would be to run a quick research to make sure all personnel will agree to the new terms. Make a questionnaire of all the ideas you can think of, from new diet plans and nonsmoking rules to blood tests. If all of your staff smokes, demanding a smoke free environment will be a torturous device for achieving the wellness goal. Instead, try making a PowerPoint presentation about the effects of smoking on their private lives and how smoke affects their everyday routine. Suggest quitting programs, anti-smoking patches and gums. Don’t try to impose all new rules at once, as an alternative, make long term goals, objectives and timeline of the progress. Your employees must be involved in the planning process and know their progress and digress. Collect a team if you can’t handle the implementation yourself and instruct them to watch which part of the project works and which one will need a little more marketing. If so many people still smoke cigarettes regardless of all anti-smoking commercials, you can make your own brainwashing program to make them quit this dangerous habit. You can recommend a group physical activity, make their hours flexible and encourage them to use that time for exercise.

When you are a growing business, flexible hours might be a little more than you can afford, but you can still divide your staff in groups, let them flex their hours and use the free time in the gym. If the office block doesn’t have a gym, a sports bar or some sort of entertainment center, you can create your own within the company walls. Include a TV, video games, pinball machine or a foosball, or you can equip a fitness room and keep your employees' training hours on the lookout. You have to make this program attractive and fun. Organize office dinners or cocktail parties when each objective is achieved, to encourage them to implement your plan faster. Keeping the scores of the wellness program public will be inspiring. When every employee can see the results and progress sheet on the office board, they will be motivated to work together until the next company party. Stock the vending machines and fridges with healthy snacks instead of chocolates and candy. Eating healthy must be a part of your new wellness plan, because healthy workers make a productive and efficient team ready to meet the company’s objectives. You may think that all these new applications will cost a lot and spend the company budget a little too much, but in the long run wellness programs will save your company way more than you now realize. Once your employees start eating healthy, exercise on a regular basis and learn to avoid stressful conflicts in the workplace, their productivity as a group will be enhanced. Lower stress levels and good nutrition will result in a healthy workplace, with less sick leaves and health care costs. Some studies on this topic have found that each company spends around 9000 dollars annually on their employees. But when there’s functioning wellness in the workplace, 20 to 50 percent of the health care costs will decrease and 10 to 30 percent of the short-term leaves will drop. If you want to see numbers, studies suggest that for every dollar spent on wellness program appliances, at least four dollars are saved in medical expenditures.

When there’s No Wellness Program at the Workplace

Many managers don’t like the idea of implementing wellness at the workplace plans, because they think that will give employees way too much freedom. Maybe you are not allowed to work out when you’re on the job, but there are other ways to be and stay healthy, and still prove your boss you are earning your salary fair and square. Our everyday rush doesn’t always allow us to eat healthy and when hunger strikes, we usually eat what ever is at hand. If you work 10 or more hours that makes two out of three unhealthy meals for the day. So next time you cook dinner, make one extra dish and bag it for tomorrow. On your way to work, there must be at least one store open, so instead buying donuts, buy a banana, apple or an orange. Eating healthy is not a matter of choice, but a matter of habit. Most of us think it’s too expensive, but if you add the medical costs you’ll have to pay from depriving your body of healthy nutrients, fresh food seems like the cheaper deal. When the management doesn’t care about your health habits, find colleagues with similar convictions and make a fun project by yourself. Because you don’t have the company’s budget at hand, you can arrange for speed walking competition, apply for a marathon or decide to avoid the elevation and use the stairs instead. You can still make progress charts and propose incentive prizes for the most motivated participants. The prize doesn’t have to be money, because it’s all about bringing the competitive edges out of the office and into a real playground. If all your colleagues are competitive, you can have a recipe contest, keep a worksheet for your collective calorie intake or reward the person who thinks of a new way to support your wellness plan. You can play for a day off, for the loser to do parts of your job or even buy your breakfast for the next week. When it comes to breakfast, it’s still the most important meal of the day, so no skipping. Breakfast especially before 10 AM will give you a jump start, speed up your metabolism and provide you with enough energy before lunch. We all drink lots of coffee, eat artificial sugary delights and junk food instead of real food, because it’s faster and more convenient, but at the end, your health will pay the price. If your company doesn’t offer flexible hours, job sharing and part time working options, you and your team can gather and make up a working environment that will be adjustable, so that everyone can have their fair share of work and play.

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