The following is a guest post from Taline Schmidt. As a consultant and strategist she has built relationships with business professionals across many industries. Here she shares some insightful suggestions she's drawn from them for increasing wellness in the workplace.
Wellness is a buzzword.
There's talk about Workplace Wellness. Employee Wellness. Digital Wellness. You get the idea. Companies are diving deep into the “wellness wave”...and for good reason. But what exactly do we mean by this?
Corporate wellness involves a few different ideas. For starters, it means cultivating a healthier environment not only in the office, but in employee’s lives as a whole. It’s essentially the idea that as an employer, you should care about (and invest in) your employee’s health. Healthier employees work harder and take less sick leave. Wellness is a great investment; in fact, for every $1 spent on wellness initiatives, $5.82 is saved in absenteeism costs. Still not convinced? Wellness programs positively influence company culture, too.
It’s Time to Implement Some Wellness into Your Workplace
Working at a marketing agency, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with many companies across different industries. I’ve asked a few to weigh on what works for them in terms of wellness. Whether you're a larger firm or a small business, these tips can be used at almost a company of any size. Keep reading for 8 simple Workplace Wellness ideas that can be implemented into any company.
1. Mindfulness in Meetings
Mindfulness is extremely important in the workplace. Why? Aside from reducing anxiety, it improves cognition and even treats mild depression. Implementing mindfulness makes the workplace a more pleasant place to be.
You can work mindfulness into your meetings with a minute of meditation. Some arrive late or frantically to a meeting, still finishing an email on their phones and feeling overwhelmed. Starting off with a little meditation is always a good idea. You can do this by taking a minute for a few deep breaths. This will help employees refresh, de-stress, and focus on the task at hand - whatever the meeting may be about.
2. Walking Breaks
A simple wellness tip that can be implemented in any kind of workplace is to go for a walk during break time. More often than not, many employees will use this time to sit down and scroll through their smartphones and check in with social media sites. However, it's a much better idea (especially when the weather is nice outside) to go for a walk during your break. Walking around after sitting all day has also been proven to increase creativity. Did we mention the sun helps your body produce Vitamin D, a necessary vitamin?
3. Improve Workplace Aesthetics
Creating a workspace that looks as good as it feels pays off. For instance, artwork on the walls and even natural light are both proven to boost productivity. Vanessa Molica, the CEO and founder of The Lash Professional, comments on how they’ve beautified their office:
“One way we’ve improved our work environment is by investing in what I call ‘Instagram-worthy wall art’ in every office. Essentially, we’ve covered our office walls with huge, aesthetically-pleasing murals that are not only beautiful but also showcase our products. Wall murals throughout the office to help foster a creative environment where employees can do their best work, in addition to creating visual interest and tying the whole space together from a design perspective.”
4. Soft Indoor Lighting
Lighting that is too dark, too bright, or too dissimilar to natural light could significantly impact your employees' mood, productivity, and overall well-being. However, switching your incandescent or fluorescent bulbs to LEDs could solve all of these issues. LEDs are extremely beneficial in promoting workplace wellness because they are color-tunable, dimmable and similar to natural light.
“Too much blue light can seriously affect your employees' mental health by disrupting circadian rhythm. Adjusting your lights from blue to orange encourages natural sleep patterns by stimulating day to night cycles. LED lights are dimmable, reducing the possibility of headaches and eye-fatigue from lighting that is too bright or too dark. Lighting that doesn’t account for employee well-being can negatively impact the office mood, but LEDs are a cheap and easy way to contribute to a healthy work environment.”
— Michael Hennessy, CEO & Founder, Wavelength Lighting
5. Fun Activities
Make sure your business isn't all work and no play. Movement is a surefire way to get the creative juices flowing, but this doesn’t have to mean going for a walk or doing squats at your desk--keep it fun with some friendly competition. Companies like Access Development provide their workers will activities like ping-pong, basketball, and foosball onsite. The teamwork cultivated in these games results in a tighter-knit community off the court, and it could lead to greater employee retention. Even paying your employees to exercise has its benefits, which include enhanced creativity, quicker learning, and improved concentration.
6. Gratitude Practice
A simple and easy way to improve employee morale is by encouraging gratitude between coworkers. This could be in the form of shoutouts for the fellow employees that worked on a task with you, to challenging employees to say thank you whenever applicable. You could even use software to do this or make it simple by getting each employee sticky note pads so they can leave notes on coworkers desks. A fun thing you can also do is to set up a board in the pantry where employees can stick notes of what they're grateful for the day.
Gratitude improves many aspects of the workplace. It encourages positive behavior, lessens stress, contributes to fewer sick days, and even gives employees the motivation they need to achieve their goals.
7. Monthly Activities as a Team
“One specific idea we implement is monthly afternoon outings as a team. This past month, we painted pottery for a few hours at As You Wish, and previously we’ve gone to the theatres to see Aladdin. Taking an afternoon off once per month is a great way to step away from work for a few hours and enjoying having some fun. Since there isn’t much cross-collaboration among different departments, it also builds team cohesion by hanging with coworkers you might not normally sit with. Lastly, increases a feeling of belonging for employees old and new by bringing the team together.”
— Nikitha Lokareddy, Director of Client Services, Markitors
8. Mental Health Practice
Mental health is more than meditation and gratitude, though. While both of those are good habits to have, employees might be going through something outside work and need more assistance that only a trained professional can provide. Chronic mental health issues can hold employees back both personally and professionally, which is why a trained professional is beneficial.
“For the past 2 years, we had an in-office therapist who came twice a week. All appointments were in a private, tucked away room to maintain privacy. Mental health is such a huge issue today and it can be expensive and appointments can be limited (most therapists end their day at 5-6 which interferes with many individuals' schedules). This was an awesome way to help provide support. When the company is mentally fit, overall performance improves so it was a super valuable initiative.”
— Ciara Hautau, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist, Fueled
Improve Your Workplace Wellness Today
Hopefully at least one of these tips inspired you to adjust your workplace wellness strategy. Wellness may be a buzzword, but it’s a buzzword for good reason!
We want to hear from you! What wellness practices have you seen success with in your organization? Leave your comment below.