Tip of the Week: Stretch Your Legs and Get Healthy at Work
The office is a place where work gets done, but it’s also known as a sedentary lifestyle. Workplace wellness programs might be an $8 billion industry, but the effectiveness of these programs has yet to be determined. Let’s take a look at what kind of office wellness programs might work for you.
Multiple studies have been performed about how wellness programs impact the workplace, but they don’t have any consistent results. Some show health improvements and cost savings, but others don’t. Studies performed in the past had several problems, though. There were often no comparison groups or personal biases that interfered with signups. Simply put, the end result of these studies couldn’t be relied on as accurate. Researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard, on the other hand, have conducted larger studies that are much more reliable.
The BJ’s Wholesale Club Experiment
20 of these big-box retailers were chosen to offer an employee wellness program, compared to 140 other locations that did not offer this program. Between the 160 locations, 33,000 workers were involved in the study. All participants were asked to take part in a health risk questionnaire, and they also took health classes and had basic medical tests performed. 18 months later the results were evaluated. Workers that were involved with the program identified they were partaking in healthier behaviors, but all other factors were unchanged, including blood sugar levels, job performance, attendance, and employer health care spending.
Why This Might Be
It’s possible that the incentives offered by this program simply didn’t appeal to the participants. These incentives included gift cards totaling about $250. According to CEO of Bravo Wellness, Jim Pshock, this may not have been enough, as he predicts that any amount less than $400 simply isn’t enough to get people excited about workplace wellness. As he put it, “It’s simply too small to get them to do things they weren’t already excited about.”
Another study from 2018 published by the University of Illinois found that the workplace wellness program simply didn’t work, finding that they don’t reduce costs or affect behaviors. On the other hand, it did find that participants of the wellness programs were both healthier and more motivated. This indicates that the programs don’t necessarily help businesses cut costs, but they do assist with attracting and retaining top talent.
Other potential factors could have contributed to these results. A recent survey indicated that 84 percent of employees found their wellness programs to be “one-size-fits-all,” something that doesn’t necessarily work for health and individual wellness. In response to this, 80 percent of respondents thought that more personalization could have made their programs more successful.
Why You Want to Adopt a Workplace Wellness Initiative
While the results are mixed, there is one redeeming factor to this argument; promoting the health of your employees means that they are less likely to call in sick, whether it’s the result of mental health days or actually being ill. Here are some other benefits to these types of programs:
- Reduced Stress: Stress management can lead to healthier behavior. Through a proper workplace wellness program, your staff can significantly reduce stress and address the issues associated with this stress more easily.
- Community Building: Activities in the workplace can be a great way to build camaraderie. A wellness initiative is one way you can break down barriers and establish a company-wide initiative.
- Better Moods: Wellness programs give your employees the opportunity to try out new activities, all while keeping them engaged and productive. Employees that participate in these activities have been proven to have better moods while at work.
What are some ways you can create a healthier workplace? Let us know in the comments.