Given the amount of time that people spend at work, it is no surprise that it also has an enormous impact on our overall health and well-being. Implementing an effective worksite wellness program is a great opportunity for employers to make a big impact on community health.
An effective worksite wellness program improves the happiness and well-being of employees, reduces missed days from work, increases worker productivity and decreases work-related injuries. The most effective worksite wellness programs do not simply implement employee focused interventions, rather they create a culture of wellness within their organizations.
Effective programs generally have the following characteristics:
• Centers on humans: Programs should emphasize the health and well-being of the individual worker rather than focusing on reaching numbers and benchmarks. Programs should be developed through partnerships between workers and upper management. This ensures that programs are meaningful and appropriately tailored to the workplace.
• Targets impactful health issues: An effective wellness program targets health issues that are important and impactful. Diet and exercise are important, but it is also important to not neglect major health issues such as mental health, smoking cessation and drug abuse. The most pertinent health issues are often dramatically different from workplace to workplace.
• Focuses on improving the environment: It’s hard to change people’s behavior, especially when it comes to health. Effective programs focus more on changing the work environment rather than trying to change each individual worker. Environmental changes may include making healthy food choice readily available, training supervisors to detect and eliminate bullying from the workplace or adding an indoor walking path or gym to the workplace so it’s easier to get exercise.
For organizations and workers looking to improve workplace health the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a great resource for further evidence based information.
For more information about Mayo Clinic Health System Occupational Medicine, contact Jill Fauchald at (651) 267-5761.
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