As the year progresses, New Year’s resolutions can easily become a fading memory. In fact, studies have found that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.
It is likely that your employee wellness program will see a similar decline in interest throughout the year, unless you take the steps necessary to keep employees engaged on a long-term basis. This article outlines a few tips and strategies you can implement to keep your employees actively engaged in a healthy lifestyle all year long.
The Connection Between Wellness and the Workplace
On average, a full-time employee spends about half of their waking hours at work on most days. Given the amount of time we spend at work, it can be very beneficial for employees when a sense of self-care and well-being are encouraged. In addition, healthy employees are happier and more productive, which is a win-win for employers and employees.
Here are a few reasons why supporting employee health makes sense, according to the National Prevention Council.
- “When employee health is poor, the indirect costs to employers – lower productivity, higher rates of disability, higher rates of injury, and more workers compensation claims – can be two to three times the costs of direct medical expenses.”
- “A 1% reduction in weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol risk factors would save $83 to $103 annually in medical costs per person.”
- “Absenteeism costs are reduced by approximately $2.73 for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs.”
These benefits won’t be realized overnight, but they are possible with the implementation and effective management of a workplace wellness program.
Tips for Keeping Employees Involved
Getting employees to participate in your wellness program is only the first step. Once they are committed, it is important to keep them involved throughout the year and help them make a life-long commitment to good health. Here are some ideas for helping employees stick with their goals.
- Send weekly emails with health tips, recipes, information on upcoming wellness challenges, etc.
- Encourage employees to find what motivates them to keep their health goals, whether it is exercising with a friend, keeping an exercise and/or diet journal, participating in wellness challenges, compiling an exercise music playlist, etc.
- Hold walking meetings when feasible.
- Host employee wellness activities. For example, by hosting a 5K, employees have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of training prior to the event as well as participating in a fun competition.
- Encourage employees to use their breaks and lunch hour to take a walk, stretch, and get some fresh air. Suggest employees stand up and walk around their office or work area while on the phone to cut down on time spent sitting.
- Provide posters illustrating stretches employees can use while at their desk or workspace. Check out this example at http://www.hrvoice.org/infographic-office-stretches-for-your-desk/
- Offer food choices that encourage portion control and healthy eating when hosting office celebrations and other events. Some ideas include mini cheesecake tarts rather than large slices of cheesecake; healthy dip recipes with pita chips and vegetables rather than salty, processed snack foods; fresh fruit rather than doughnuts.
- Support employees in taking care of their mental and emotional health, and encourage them to find ways to deal effectively with stress. Some options include providing quick chair massages once a week or once a month, offering meditation classes, designating a quiet room to allow employees to recharge on a busy work day, and encouraging employees to use their vacation time.
The key is finding what works for your employees and remembering it takes time for change to happen. Encourage employees to make simple changes, step by step, rather than trying to make a complete lifestyle overhaul all at once. Remind employees to make changes that work with their current lifestyle. What works for a single person with no children may not work for someone who is married and has young children at home. And finally, remember a healthy, happy lifestyle is much more than a number on the scale. It includes making healthy choices that can be sustained long term as well as taking care of your mental and emotional health. A successful wellness program is one that helps build empowerment, confidence, and mindfulness.