Workplace productivity is often defined as the employees’ ability to keep up with their tasks and goals and complete them on schedule without reducing quality. It sounds quite simple, but this is merely a definition that cannot encompass the complexity of workplace reality, often very dynamic and influenced by numerous factors – some may have to do with the working environment and others with the employees’ personal problems that cannot be left at the entry door, no matter how much the company encourages (or demands) it.
Companies have tried to solve this problem for decades now, and some succeeded beautifully, while others slowly sank into bankruptcy after going for strong coercive programs that only led to even lower work productivity. The truth is that for every hour an employee loses staring at a screen without doing any active work, the company loses money, and if you’ve got a highly-stressed collective or many employees who struggle with health problems, this may not be an insulated incident.
The direct health expenses the company has to deal monthly cannot be overlooked, but a study published in the National Library of Medicine has shown that they are 2 to 3 times lower than the amounts of money the company loses due to low employee productivity that is caused by chronic diseases.
In this scenario, a new strategy began to grow in popularity among business owners and CEOs, and it implies providing the employees with ways to take care of their health so they can stay in shape both physically and physically and give their best at their workplace. We are referring to the wellness programs that are promoted inside big companies, like Johnson and Johnson, and which proved to be the best route to take for success.
They are strategies the company decides to adopt to encourage healthy habits at work and reduce the effect of bad habits on the collective’s productivity. The main purpose is to help employees who are at risk of developing chronic conditions to avoid them by getting fitter. In general, these programs include:
The immediate results of implementing a program of this type inside a company can be difficult to track, as productivity itself is a pretty shifty element. Nevertheless, the gains become visible in the long run, and many of the CEOs who decided to go with this strategy observed the following changes taking place:
The employees who took half an hour to relax in the infrared sauna or spent as much as 20 minutes every day doing light to moderate Pilates exercises seemed a lot more active after this moment of pause, and their results improved considerably. They were able to pick up new tasks sooner and become more involved in their work. The expert explanation is that the quiet time spent doing these activities, along with the warm atmosphere of the sauna or the concentration Pilates requires, helped them disconnect from the office world while improving their blood circulation and stimulating the production of endorphins.
This study published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that physical activity improves memory in both athlete and non-athlete adults and can even help them become more creative. Now, who doesn’t want a team that can come up with great ideas and help the company grow? It seems that this objective is actually easy to reach by sending the employees to take a walk or do some light aerobics during work hours.
In companies where support groups were formed, the members developed better connections with their colleagues, and some even formed long-term friendships. Employees who shared the same sauna started to communicate better with each other. Break rooms proved to be just as beneficial, as the employees found a more neutral space where they could speak about their hobbies and personal life and connect at a deeper level.
Each sick day costs the employer money, so it is understandable why they want to reduce them to as few as possible. Plus, it is not to say that the employee would have a blast laying in bed suffering from an acute headache or bad enterocolitis. If the wellness program is successful, the overall health of the employees improves, and they are less susceptible to get sick. In fact, this is one of the aspects that can be best quantified, and companies that implemented a health program admitted that they did count fewer sick days than before.
Healthy employees are happy employees – this is a fact. But some team members simply appreciate being part of a company culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, many candidates expect to see wellness benefits in the hiring offer, and if the company offers them or not can make the difference between getting a highly-trained and creative new team member or an average employee who is always on the verge of reaching its potential, but never does.
As we have mentioned, some programs were successful, but there were plenty that failed, too. So, is there a secret that can make all your efforts pay off and make your company the most productive of all? Actually, there is, and it is called perseverance.
Here are some tips you should follow to make sure your program gives the best results:
It isn’t enough to throw some bananas and kiwis in the kitchen and install a magnetic bike in a corner of the office. To make sure your plan works, you need to take into account the specifics of your business, the age, gender, hobbies, and other elements that characterize the collective. You could ask a wellness professional to help you, or if you feel up to it, you can take it upon yourself to do the research and write the action plan.
Your employees are a good source of inspiration. Ask them what they like to do to stay in shape. Some may have played football or tennis in high school and may be interested in trying again. You may have a lot of employees who want to find their inner balance through Yoga or try an activity they have never had the chance to try before. It is better than buying equipment no one likes to use.
Each company has a group of employees who are health and fitness enthusiasts. You may rely on them to help implement the program, as they already have a lot of knowledge in this field, and some of them may be happy to share it with their colleagues for free. They can also monitor the results and let you know if you need to do some adjustments.
No matter what strategy you are trying to implement at work, it is all about commitment. If you just tell people that they should stop doing one thing and start doing another, you will probably deal with their lack of interest (or they may fake it, if you are the CEO). If you want to get things moving, you need to get them moving, and the best way to do it when it comes to implementing a health program is to start moving yourself. Be the first to use the new massager or to hop on the body fat scale. Take half an hour to walk on the hallways, do Yoga, or try the sauna. It won’t take long until your employees follow you.
Extra tip: Never stop! Commitment is the key to a well-implemented program.
Bad habits can change, and your employees can become a lot more productive if you implement the right wellness program. The only thing you need to remember is that the change must start from the top level and that this strategy may require a lot of patience and, in some cases, a substantial upfront investment. Nevertheless, the results are astonishing, and you have some of the biggest CEOs talking about them and encouraging this practice, so why not make a shift to a healthier and more productive company culture?