Creating a Workplace Wellness Culture

Employees spend a lot of time at the workplace, so it makes sense that a healthier workplace can support — and even encourage — healthier behaviors.  Meetings with fruit and water replace meetings with donuts and pop; employees stand in meetings instead of sit; healthy food replaces chips and candy in the vending machine; managers ask employees to have a “walking meeting” — all of these are examples of a workplace that has implemented health and wellness strategies hoping to improve the health of employees for a more productive workforce.

Keeping your employees interested and engaged in healthy behaviors is the best way to create a healthy workplace culture. You can do that by ensuring your company’s wellness programs encompasses the following characteristics:

  • Convenient – Offer employees activities at work during their lunch hour, such as a walking club, or promote coordinated activities after work.
  • Economical – Consider subsidizing activities or offer them for free to encourage employees to participate.
  • Personal – Help employees identify why they should participate and get healthy. This can be an important motivator to increase engagement in wellness activities.
  • Driven – Provide your employees with a goal, such as some type of wellness challenge, to inspire them to participate and foster a healthy culture of teamwork, not to mention leveraging their competitive nature.

In addition, consider using an onsite wellness coordinator, who will create a strategy and drive engagement in your wellness program.

There are many ways you can create a healthy workplace. Here are some ideas:

Increase physical activity

  • Institute a flex-time policy that allows employees to exercise during the day.
  • Encourage employees to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Make sure stairwells are well-lit and accessible.
  • Promote nearby walking or biking trails.
  • Create a walking group at work.
  • Promote walking meetings.
  • Add a few work-station treadmills to your offices.
  • Offer discounted gym memberships.
  • Create a training facility or gym at your workplace.
  • Encourage employees to use the Enjoy Exercise Digital Health Assistant program on the Blue Cross® Health & Wellness website, powered by WebMD®.

Reduce tobacco, alcohol and drug use

  • Adopt policies that prohibit employees from using tobacco, alcohol and drugs in the workplace.
  • Inform your employees about community resources that will help your tobacco-dependent employees quit.
  • Implement pre-employment drug screening.
  • Encourage employees to use the Quit Tobacco Digital Health Assistant program on the Blue Cross Health & Wellness website.

Promote better nutrition

  • Offer healthy food choices in your company cafeterias and vending machines, and provide a discount when your employees choose healthier options.
  • Provide healthy foods at company events.
  • Equip break rooms with refrigerators and microwaves to encourage employees to bring their lunch to work.
  • Host healthy cooking demonstrations at your workplace.
  • Promote community fruit and vegetable vendors at health fairs or invite them to sell their products at your workplace.
  • Encourage employees to use the Eat Better Digital Health Assistant program on the Blue Cross Health & Wellness website.

Improve workstation ergonomics

  • Assess employee workstations and upgrade or modify equipment as necessary to ensure it’s ergonomically correct.
  • Provide your employees with instruction on proper form for work tasks like sitting, typing and lifting.
  • Encourage stretching breaks throughout the day.
  • Offer standing work stations.

Help employees manage and reduce job stress

  • Provide mental health days off for employees.
  • Start employee mentoring and peer-group support programs.
  • Promote counseling resources such as an employee assistance program.
  • Provide onsite workshops about managing job stress.
  • Encourage employees to use the Conquer Stress Digital Health Assistant program on the Blue Cross Health & Wellness website.

Offer employee benefits that promote good health

  • Assess your company’s benefits package for health promotion additions.
  • Educate your employees about available benefits that can help support and improve good health.
  • Recognize employees’ health and wellness success stories in your company newsletter, bulletin board or intranet site.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan wellness consultants can help you evaluate your company’s wellness programs and provide you with more information about the options available, including onsite wellness coordinators, that can help your company promote a culture of wellness. For more information, contact your Blue Cross account manager or independent agent.

Cindy Bjorkquist is the director of Health and Wellness Programs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She has more than 33 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, working directly in health care for the past 20 years. Cindy has a master’s degree in exercise physiology, corporate health management, from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in exercise in sports science and biology from Spring Arbor University. To connect with Cindy and discuss Michigan workplace wellness, join the Michigan Health Leaders LinkedIn group.

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