Workplace wellness programs are gaining recognition in Canada as an increasing number of companies are beginning to realize the positive impact they can have on the overall success of an organization.
As Canadians spend an average of 60% of their waking hours at work, the workplace is a logical forum to encourage and promote healthy living.
Workplace wellness is a proactive approach to healing the ailments most organizations face such as high turnover, absenteeism, and reduced productivity. In the workplace, there are three key elements that effect health and wellness; the physical environment, health behaviours, and social environment. The easiest and least expensive element where change can be implemented is health behaviour. With increasing rates of obesity and obesity related diseases, emphasising wellness in the workplace is more crucial than at any other time in history.
According to a 2004 Statistics Canada survey, 58.7% of Canadians were considered overweight or obese. In Nova Scotia, the obesity rate was higher at 59.7%. The growing waistlines of Canada’s population is a serious health concern. Obesity is linked to many medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, depression, fibromyalgia, and the list goes on.
Even individuals who are not obese can also suffer from poor nutrition and health habits and would benefit greatly from a workplace wellness program.
How can employers help? There are several easy ways to support concepts of wellness such as healthy eating, active breaks, stress management, and smoking cessation. Ideas could include providing herbal teas in the lunch or break room as an alternative to coffee, choosing a vending machine supplier that provides healthier alternatives to chips and chocolate bars, implementing a lunch-hour walking group and enforcing a policy where smokers must stand at least ten feet away from any entrances or exits of the workplace.
The path to wellness in the workplace does not need to be complicated, but it does need to be supported by all levels in order for the initiative to succeed. Participation of management and employees alike is crucial; it is after all about creating a brand new, healthy corporate culture.
The benefits of a workplace wellness program speak for themselves; reduced turnover and absenteeism, decreased costs relating to sick and stress leave, and fewer workers compensation claims. In short, it develops a workforce that performs to its fullest potential, and helps build a solid and profitable organization.
Every organization can benefit from increased wellness in the workplace. But what is most inspiring is the ripple effect this can have on the families of the employees, their friends and neighbours and society as a whole.
For further information on how you can kickstart your organization’s path to greater health, happiness, and productivity, post your comments/questions or contact Leila today!