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Health and Wellness in the Office

Money is not the only thing that employees work for—they are also searching for environments that provide flexibility, fun, trust and balance as well as opportunity-rich experiences. Employers need to build in the health and wellness “attraction” factor.

More and more employers are offering their staff health and wellness perks that are of little cost to the employer but enormous incentives to the employee. Companies are adding amenities to the workplace in order to help employees achieve healthier lifestyles or provide access to nutritional, exercise or mental health counselling. Alternatively, wellness benefits can be included as an incentive when employees meet certain performance objectives. In turn, employers feel that that these benefits reduce things such as medical insurance costs and sick time, resulting in a healthier, more energized and positive workforce.

Some real-life examples of client health and wellness benefits:

  • Full, operational kitchens.
    Fully stocked, high tech kitchens including cappuccino bars, with high end coffees, teas, fresh fruits, snacks, groceries and/or onsite cafeterias with plenty of nutritious food. This allows employees to have the chance to take a break and snack on an apple or a handful of almonds, it gives them just the right amount of time to recharge.

  • Gyms.
    Fully equipped in-house gyms, including a full weight complement, cardio machines, showers and personal trainers at their disposal. In other cases, gym memberships are provided to staff and contests are created to improve employee participation. Employers are able to encourage employees to take time out of their day to fit a quick workout into their schedule and jump back into work without leaving the office.

  • Flex days.
    In addition to regular vacation entitlement, employers are implementing flexible days. These days can be anywhere from three days to one day per month, per year. The days can be part of the “new hire” package or incentive days, earned based on performance.

  • Team building.
    Team building creates positive synergies between co-workers, departments and divisions. Building trust and camaraderie creates health and wellness through collaboration and improving interpersonal relationships. Activities that range from half day to three or four day weekends are incorporated into the development of teambuilding with positive health and wellness outcomes.

  • Community activities.
    Employers are participating increasingly in community charity events in support of the MS Society, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, The Food Bank, The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, and others. Employers offer employees paid leave to volunteer in the community and work together to improve their own sense of community.

  • Employee assistance programs (EAP).
    An EAP gives staff extra help when life’s challenges are overwhelming. Specialists’ are available to assist with self-help referrals, in-person counselling, legal referrals, child care referrals and other services that can be difficult to access in a personal crisis.

  • Miscellaneous incentives.
    House cleaning; yes you read this right! Three hours of housecleaning twice per month, free in-house upper back massages, large screen TVs, washers and dryers, flu shots, ergonomic work stations—each of these have been offered to employees as health and wellness benefits.

There are all kinds of amazing health and wellness incentives in the work force. Wellness benefits can be defined in many different ways; there is a growing recognition that employers are offering more than salary and four walls; they are offering a home away from home. Programs like these not only contribute to greater health, but they can also improve employee morale and create a more engaged workforce. Strong belief in the health and welfare of employees will also evolve into a stronger loyalty to their employers. Creating a better work place through collaboration, trust, and a safe and healthy work environment are becoming common practice. Create the environment that you want to work in and inspire your team through health and wellness, in turn you will create an employee centric environment.

Written by Candice Rookes for the April 2013 edition of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce – Commerce News