Prioritize Wellness As Much As Employee Safety
A building without fire alarms can be hazardous. Employers wouldn’t consider letting employees work in an unsafe building. Yet, the same organization might serve soda and cookies at every afternoon meeting – and this is unhealthy and dangerous to the wellbeing of its employees.
While safety procedures and programs are commonplace in today’s workplace, making worksite wellness as important as safety requires employers to treat wellness as a culture rather than a fad. In most organizations, safety is an ingrained culture. It’s important to develop a wellness culture that is as deeply-rooted as safety. Treating wellness like safety requires an organizational culture shift and a systematic approach. You can’t be excited about wellness for a few months and then let it go. If you do, you won’t be able to create a lasting culture change.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective workplace programs, policies and environments that are health focused and worker centered have the potential to significantly benefit employers, employees, their families and communities. Start by creating a wellness team that takes the lead. Having a team that is excited and educated about wellness will help drive change behind the scenes. It’s important to get senior management involved in your wellness team to show support and buy in. If you have a wellness budget, consider contacting a wellness vendor who can help you develop and implement a customized program for your employees. If you do not have a budget, start with what you can do internally – standing meetings, walking challenges, providing healthy food at company events – once your initiative shows progress, you may be able to secure funds to broaden it.
Education is an important building block of culture change. Guest speakers can discuss nutrition, stress and exercise. It is also very effective to have employees share success stories – from weight loss to completing their first 5K. Open communication about health and wellness will help create culture change.
By creating a culture of wellness, health and well-being become a priority -- just like workplace safety. In the end, businesses reap the rewards of lowering health care costs while employees feel good about the company they work for and their own personal well-being.