Exactly how does it feel to walk into your workplace? Do individuals look happy? is the place well lit and cheerful? Do you feel welcome, wanted and energized? Or do you feel a gloom come over you, and count the hours until you can leave?
The influence of the workplace environment on the wellness of employees is profound. First there is the physical look, feel, smell, and sounds of the place. Then you are affected by the policies, like whether others are permitted to smoke around you.
After awhile, more subtle factors begin to affect you. Do your attempts to adopt a healthier lifestyle get recognized at work, or are they sabotaged? Are your managers inspiring you by being healthful role models? Do you get regular opportunities to learn healthier behavior?
In a supportive environment, staff feel that the company they work for provides them with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards for healthful life choices.
And the spirit that results is highly contagious. Workers who feel cared are naturally more loyal and productive.
The following ideas will help you transform your workplace environment into one that indeed supports the wellness of your workforce and organization.
Wellness Program Ideas for Creating Supportive Environments
Health Promotion Friendly Facilities
When you enter a worksite, do you feel comfortable? Could you be glad working there? is there enough light and clean air? Are there pleasant work areas, places to eat decent food, take a walk before lunch? Close your eyes. Exactly how does it smell? Sound? Do the workers have enough space?
There is no doubt that our physical environment affects us, from basic safety matters to subtle factors that may cause or reduce stress. Healthful environments often have these features -
o Vending machines with healthful food options like low-fat milk, fruits, sugar-free and caffeine-free beverages and low-calorie snacks
o Workout area, walking paths, playing fields, basketball hoop, or other exercise opportunities on-site or nearby
o Cafeteria offers healthy foods including a salad bar with low-fat dressing
o Natural light is used whenever possible; all lighting is appropriate and adequate
o Heating and ventilation is adjustable, comfortable and healthful
o No cigarette machines, ashtrays, or tobacco use areas on-site
o Noise levels are safe and conducive to concentration
o Make sure to work station furniture conforms to ergometric standards
o Safety hazards have been eliminated
o Lockers and showers are available for workers who workout before work or during breaks
o Stairs are clean and well lit, convenient and pleasant to use
Familiarity can make it hard to evaluate a worksite. Individuals get used to stressful conditions and forget that conditions ever bothered them.
It may be useful to ask individuals who are unfamiliar with your workplace to walk through with you. Professional advisors can also help.
Proactive Wellness Policies
One clear way to influence behavior is through policies and procedures. When nurses aren’t allowed to work more than twelve hours in a row, there will be fewer medication errors.
If parents are permitted flextime to attend to their children’s needs, they will be less stressed. If staff can apply unused sick days to planned vacation time, they will save them up in lieu of calling in sick to use them all.
Supportive corporate policies might include -
o Seatbelt use required in corporation automobiles
o Alcohol and drug policies are appropriate to the industry
o Emergency procedures are developed, known, and practiced
o Flexible work schedules allow workers to exercise, attend children’s school conferences, etc.
o Nonsmoking policy is enforced
o Excessive overtime is discouraged
o Membership at exercise facility is partially reimbursed
o Shift personnel are scheduled to allow adequate rest
o Medical care coverage rewards good health
o Absenteeism policy rewards staff who do not use sick days
o Employee assistance program available to help employees with chemical dependencies, depression, family problems
o Significant consequences are given for unsafe, unhealthy, prohibited behavior. Your organization might have a policy against alcohol use during work hours, but when everyone looks the other way when someone comes back from lunch smelling like beer, the culture is one that allows drinking at lunch-and one in which written policies could be safely ignored.
Prohibited behaviors must be confronted promptly. Otherwise your policies become mere lip service in lieu of springboards to health.
Consistent Recognition and Rewards for Success
Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements.
You can show you value wellness by celebrating your health promotion programs and those who’ve made lifestyle improvements in company newsletters, on bulletin boards, and at annual banquets, meetings, and celebrations. Incentives are a direct way to show appreciation, too.
Wellness mentors are sought and applauded, too. Staff Members who support others’ efforts to improve their health are noticed and appreciated. Coworker modeling and mentoring classes can encourage those who enjoy helping others to step forward into a new role.
Managers Model and Support Healthy Behavior
Nothing could say “We encourage you to exercise often” better than a manager going on a bicycle ride during the lunch hour–or your supervisor sitting next to you in a weight management class.
Health Promotion activities promote relaxed interaction between individuals from different departments and at different levels in the chain of command. That promotes relaxed communication and a feeling of solidarity that is pure gold.
Managers can also provide support for staff members who are working on bettering their health. It does not take anything fancy-just a “good job” or “nice to see you at the health and fitness center” can put a glow on the cheeks of most of us.
Managers can also help by permitting workforce the flexibility to attend wellness events.
Ongoing Wellness Programs
It’s imperative that you give workforce the sense that the health promotion program is a permanent and important part of the organization, not a organization fad. That can start as soon as a new staff member is hired.
New staff members are oriented to the health promotion program as one of the staff member benefits. Information about the health promotion program should be presented by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable person who invites the new staff member to participate.
The staff are familiar with the ongoing wellness programs.
The health promotion programs and wellness staff are well known in the company. Opportunities to participate are abundant and it is easy to sign up.
A wide variety of awareness classes are offered. There are topics of interest for everybody.