Viewpoint: Little things can mean a lot when wellness is the goal
Businesses understand the connection between employee health, productivity and performance, which is why an increasing number of companies offer some sort of wellness program. All businesses stand to benefit from wellness initiatives through reduced health-care spending, employee absenteeism and turnover. However, small companies have been slower to jump on the wellness bandwagon, not for lack of interest, but for fear that it’s simply not in their budget.
The truth is you don’t need to spend a fortune on an elaborate program to support the well-being of your population. Here are a few low-cost ideas to get you started building a culture of health in your workplace!
Arrange an office potluck.
Good health starts with good nutrition and let’s face it: food has an incredible way of bringing people together. Ask everyone to bring in a lightened-up version of their favorite dish to share. Potlucks are a great way to involve everyone and create a healthy buzz around the office.
Organize a walking club.
Elevating your heart rate reinvigorates the body and the mind. Get a group together one day a week to go for a 30-minute walk during the lunch hour. Walking is an accessible form of exercise for most because it’s relatively low impact and everyone can go at his or her own pace.
Designate a healthy break space.
When your team is working hard, it’s important that they have a space to retreat and recharge. Place a few yoga mats in a vacant office for anyone who wishes to stretch or meditate throughout the day. Crowdsource books, puzzles or brain teasers to include for some relaxing entertainment.
Building meaningful social connections is an important dimension of wellbeing. Volunteer at a local food bank, assisted living community, or animal shelter. Giving back makes us feel a sense of purpose and it’s a great bonding experience that builds camaraderie among coworkers.
To get started bringing these and other creative wellness ideas to life, follow these simple steps:
Appoint a leadership team.
Create a committee to set goals and a budget for your program. Ideally, the committee would be composed of people from different departments so that you can leverage their unique skill sets for successful program implementation.
Survey your population.
Use an online survey tool or chat with people face to face to discern the types of programs people are interested in. Soliciting feedback will make your team members feel valued and ensure that you’re creating a program that will resonate with people.
Communicate your program.
Announce the launch of your program at the next all-staff meeting or send a company-wide email. Include an overview of the program and communicate logistics about how to get involved. This is an opportunity to tell your employees how much you value them and get them excited for what’s to come!
The key is to create programming that is relevant and to make it as convenient as possible to participate because the more people get involved the bigger impact your wellness program will have.
Leverage your population.
If you have a certified personal trainer or healthy food blogger on staff, tap into that expertise! Chances are they would be happy to get involved and help educate people about their healthy hobby. Your team will also love it because it will feel more personal coming from someone they know.
Start small. If you try to do too many things at once you may cause overwhelm, resulting in suboptimal program engagement. It’s better to have a quarterly event that garners 100% participation as opposed to a weekly event that only a handful of people attend. Remember that no matter how small, incremental changes will lead to a big shift in organizational culture over time.
Meg Alexander of Rehoboth Beach received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the founder of Our Company Culture, which specializes in helping small businesses build wellness programs from the ground up.OCC offers onsite cooking demonstrations, mindful meditation workshops, health coaching sessions, yoga and group exercise classes to engage populations and transform organizational culture. She can be reached at [email protected].