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Get employees moving to improve health and performance

The real benefit of wellness programs was boosting the performance of staff members.

Everyone knows to avoid stress, but constant deadlines and long hours at work are often unavoidable. Combined with being seated for hours at a time, these factors create a very hazardous work environment, according to the Sun Life-Bennet National Wellness Survey.

Human Capital Magazine reported that the study found that stress and a sedentary lifestyle are the top health risks for employees. The report also revealed that a growing number of businesses are implementing strategies to build healthier workforces.

"With an increase in illnesses relating to both stress and sedentary lifestyles, the need for employer sponsored wellness programs is growing rapidly," Lori Casselman, assistant vice-president of Sun Life Financial, told the source.

The number of companies offering wellness initiatives continues to rise. The study found that 62 percent of businesses have reward and recognition programs focused on employee wellbeing. Research has shown that focusing on staff health can directly impact bottom lines. A report by the Harvard Business Review stated that for every dollar invested in wellness programs, companies could expect a $2 to $3 return on investment in the form of lower health insurance.

Boost employee performance with wellness programs
With an aging population, these results alone can make it worth implementing incentive programs, but there are other benefits as well. The Sun Life-Bennet survey noted that 51 percent of respondents reported an increase in office morale with 40 percent seeing a drop in absenteeism. However, the Financial Post stated that the real benefit of wellness programs is in boosting the performance of staff members.

"If you want to perform optimally, you've got to maximize your brain power, which is linked directly to your state of your overall well-being," Donata Girolamo, a naturapathic doctor in St. Catherine's, Ont., told the source. She added that optimal mental function depended on giving the body what it needs, mainly a good diet, plenty of exercise and rest.

Helping employees make smarter choices about diet and exercise helps reduce the biggest health concerns in the modern work environment. Regular exercise has been shown to help people manage stress more effectively, while getting people up and moving helps improve blood flow, strengthening mental prowess and heart health.

"As an organization we understand that our employees' health and performance are correlated," said Johanna Skitt, head of human resources at Griffin Koerth forensic engineering. "That is why we intentionally create healthy breaks in our office to encourage our staff to take 'self-care' breaks, be it a quick massage, healthy meal at work or a walk around the block."

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