Building a healthy workforce

The importance of prioritising the mental and physical health of employees can’t be overstated. Beyond promoting the day to day health of your colleagues, a ‘healthy’ office can do wonders for productivity while helping to drive down absenteeism. A new survey from Virgin Pulse has shown that almost four-fifths of companies are currently planning long term projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of all staff throughout their organisations.

However, setting employees on the path to healthier lives isn’t something that can be done without their cooperation. So you need to find ways to inspire them to begin actively living healthier lives. The creation of a ‘wellness culture’ throughout the organisation or company is paramount and this can be achieved via several different methods.

Match the scheme to your staff

To start, your wellness programme needs to fit the size, location and the respective industry of your firm. For example, ‘walking meetings’ can be a simple yet effective facet of your wellness programme, but it would be counterproductive for city-based traders to be discussing the ins and outs of their trade whilst on the move around the streets…

Fundamentally, for this kind of culture to flourish the thought leaders need to take an active role in improving the health of employees, and the wellness culture needs to be promoted throughout the firm at every level. Qlik, for example, issued Fitbits to all employees. Not only did this help them track their fitness levels, it also encouraged friendly competition between them. Inspiring some competitive spirit and team bonding through sporting activities (such as paintballing, orienteering or Nerf gun wars) can be a useful side-effect of a wellness programme and a great motivator too.

The offering of useful gym discounts can be another great way of helping to spread and sustain the wellness culture, as employees can work their fitness regime around their work hours. Very few organisations offer significant discounts or any real choice when it comes to fitness activities, so often these schemes are of little use to employees, which is madness – discounts and better choice can vastly increase the uptake of the programme, as can offering discounts to employees’ partners so that they can train together.

Go Green – and a little red in the face

It’s also becoming increasingly important to the sustainability of any wellness programme to encourage and enable employees to choose healthier ways to get to and from work. Studies have shown that cycling and running can reduce sick days by 1.3 days per year.

Finally, you should engage your employees at every level; it’s imperative to get their input on what scheme they would like to see implemented. Every company’s staff is different, and this feedback is essential when you’re deciding which schemes will keep people motivated and productive. From in-house yoga lessons to companywide sporting events (never underestimate the team building powers of a good Nerf gun war), there’s plenty of ways to help promote, build and sustain a wellness culture so long as you maintain active engagement at all levels, with all people.


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