Early efforts to create healthy workplaces focusedon safety at the worksite and injury prevention for workers.
More recently, programs are designed to assist employees to choose healthier behaviors such as being more physically active, making healthier eating choices or quitting smoking. The workplace is a good way to reach people since most adult Americans spend a large part of their day and life at work.
While safety and lifestyle programs are two aspects that contribute to the health of employees, workplace wellness is more effective when a third factor is brought into the equation: the environment at work.
Increasingly, it is recognized that the workplace itself has a powerful effect on people’s health. When people are satisfied with their jobs, they are more productive and tend to be healthier. When employees feel the environment at work is negative, they feel stressed. Stress has a large impact on employee mental and physical health, and in turn on productivity. The underlying idea is that companies must genuinely care about the wellbeing of their employees.
Companies that want to attract and keep good workers have leaders who understand the connection between employee satisfaction and employee health, and believe that workplace wellness is a business strategy. Their management practices include making reasonable demands on time, involving employees in decision making, rewarding work that is well-done, openly communicating, and providing support to balance work and home life.
Employers know workers are looking for jobs that pay well, have good benefits, are interesting and include excellent health and safety programs. So in today’s competitive hiring market, it has become more important than ever for companies to enhance job satisfaction and ensure workers enjoy being on the job.
- Attract and keep employees;
- Reduce the costs of absenteeism;
- Reduce the effects of a stressful workplace;
- Reduce health costs or keep them contained; and
- Improve morale by creating a happy, supportive environment.
- Increased awareness and knowledge of their health;
- A less stressful workplace;
- Increased protection from injury;
- Improved health and well-being;
- Higher morale and greater job satisfaction;
- Increased productivity and effectiveness at work;
- (Potential) reduced personal health-care costs; and
- A more relaxed/flexible approach to health issues.
Both employers and employees have a responsibility to create a healthy workplace. Employees are expected to arrive at work in good health, and the employer is expected to provide an environment that allows employees to maintain good health, enjoy their work and contribute to the company’s success.
Workplace wellness is more than a “lunch and learn” program. It’s about developing a “people first” approach to doing business. It’s about taking care of employees, establishing a positive work environment and paying attention to the factors that keep employees healthy and happy at work.
A good workplace wellness program has an impact on employees’ mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. Healthy employees are happy employees and happy employees are productive employees.