How Wellness Is Shaping the Workplace

A growing number of companies are embracing wellness as numerous scientific studies show a positive return-on-investment for these programs.   Many property management companies have started to embrace wellness as well in their design and day-to-day activities. Many office centers now offer on-site work-out facilities, walking trails, bike parking, and use design to encourage physical activity.  Employees are finding healthier food choices in common areas, more greenery in their work area, outdoor gathering spaces and special events geared toward wellness.

  In a recent blog article, Compass Properties’ Sheldon Oppermann went so far as to say that “employee wellness is the next big thing in commercial real estate.”   He cited a recent AFLAC Workforces Report that found effective wellness programs result in an average of 28% fewer sick days taken, 26% reduction in health care costs and a 30% reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management claims.

Focusing on wellness has become a key to attracting employees, especially millennials.  A recent article published by Harvard Business Review reveals that young job-hunters “shop” for jobs that support their personal needs and goals. A growing number of employees, especially younger employees, rank happiness over pay when evaluating a job, according to a recent USA Today article that analyzed findings from a Fidelity study.

Wellness programs focus not only on the physical well-being of employees, but mental and emotional health as well.   One concept gaining traction is workplace flexibility to improve work-life balance.  Teleworking, flex schedules and liberal PTO programs have all been shown to generate higher levels of job satisfaction and less absenteeism, along with reduced rates of turnover.

Like most effective programs, your wellness initiatives should be customized to meet the needs of your unique workforce.  It starts with an assessment to establish a good baseline.  That can take the form of a health screening to gather height, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and other metrics; and/or a confidential health risk questionnaire to gather similar health risk data.   Establishing a good baseline is a key to measuring how well the program is working and whether it is achieving its expected results.

Almost all successful workplace wellness programs are outcome-oriented, and link wellness initiatives to your company’s needs and strategic priorities.  It goes without saying that management support is crucial.  Putting a wellness program into place isn’t enough without senior management’s commitment to a thriving culture of wellness and sustainable behavior change.  And managers at all levels can lead by example to make healthy choices easy and inspire employees to make create sustainable lifestyle changes.