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Workplace Wellness Wisdom

19 November 2013

Allison asked her colleagues in the Richmond Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to share their favorite workplace wellness tips and was delighted to read a lot of creative ideas to help employers support their employees on the road to wellness.

Tags: allison read, balance, health care, healthcare

Last week Allison Partners sponsored the Richmond Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) morning meeting: Taking Wellness to a New Level: A Panel Discussion. Three great panelists shared best practices on integrating wellness into your organization’s culture.

People are most often familiar with initiatives that help employees to stop smoking, exercise more and eat healthier which is good for the employees and also usually reduces healthcare insurance costs for employers and employees. However, the panelists also had a variety of ideas for encouraging overall emotional well-being and stress reduction.

We asked audience members to write on index cards the ideas they heard from the panelists that sounded most interesting to them as well other workplace wellness tips they’d heard about or were already using in their own organizations. We hope you’ll find this list of conceptual ideas as well as specific initiatives to be as thought-provoking as we did.

  • Ask senior leadership to be champions of any wellness program not just verbally but by being active participants.
  • Encourage walking while having one-on-one meetings.
  • Subsidize the healthy choices in vending machines so that sodas and less healthy snacks are still available but cost a bit more.
  • Give employees free gym memberships, but take the cost out of their pay checks if they don't go to the gym at least two times a month.
  • Create fun competitions. For example, give every employee a pedometer, break the organization into random teams, and then have a contest for total amount of steps taken in a month by each team. The winning team gets to give $1,000 to their favorite charity.
  • Ensure that your wellness program is balanced. Exercise, nutrition, and smoking cessation are important, but overall well-being and stress reduction should not be neglected.
  • Meet people where they are. Make sure programs are welcoming to people who love to exercise as well as to people who haven’t ever exercised. Be cautious about being too competitive or creating exclusivity. There should be something for everyone.
  • Start with a goal that’s easy for your employees to attain so they realize they can do it versus not having the time or the will to do it.
  • Provide cooking classes to help people learn to prepare healthier meals and snacks.
  • Have massage therapists onsite.
  • Teach meditation and relaxation techniques. Have a quiet room where people can go to nap and meditate.
  • Make it okay for people to wear gym clothes during the workday either before or after a workout.
  • At 2:30 – 3:30 pm when I really need a coffee, I’ve started exercising at my desk i.e. jumping jacks, pushups, or doing laps on the stairs.  It wakes you up almost the same amount as a cup of coffee!
  • "Catch" people doing healthy things and then get their permission to post the pictures publicly to encourage healthy behavior.
  • Post signs by the elevators that say, “Don’t let the machines win!”
  • Create affinity groups for people who like to walk, run, bike, take fitness classes, etc.
  • Provide free smoking cessation classes and medication.
  • We use a wellness portal that has helped to educate, connect us socially, provide fitness challenges and nutritional evaluations, set goals, share recipes and much more.  It helps me track participation and see areas where I need more programs.  For example – learned we had pre-diabetic employees so I hired a registered dietitian to have one-on-one visits.
  • Learn more about Active RVA.
  • Have resources available to help employees who express a struggle with underlying self-esteem issues related to health challenges.
  • Make sure the tone of your programs is encouraging rather than shaming.

What is your company doing to support wellness in the workplace? What do you do personally to help yourself and others make healthy choices throughout the workday?


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