At Google, employees play bocce ball and take fitness classes during work hours. Current and former Boeing workers have the option of joining the BOEALPS club, an organization that offers rock climbing classes and guided alpine climbs to its members. All across the country, today’s hot tech companies are embracing workspace innovations like the standing desk and, in some cases,
The answers to these questions are straightforward when examined in the context of other developments both in business and in culture at large. We’ll take a look at them here.
Why Should Businesses Promote Healthy Living?
Perhaps one of the most puzzling facets of the healthy workplace trend has to do with the role of companies in the lives of their employees. Is the office just a place where people sit down at a desk for 40 hours a week, or can it — should it — be something more? The modern trend seems to answer ‘yes’ to both questions.
Businesses are working hard to engage employees for a variety of reasons. First, 21st century adults are less driven by the idea of doing a job for its own sake, or even for the sake of money. These workers, especially millennials, want to feel engaged by the work that they do and feel like their office is more of a community than an assembly line.
Second, and combing back to millennials, this is generation that sets goals outside of work. By offering means to self-improvement in the office, companies are better able to entice the millennials that they are eager to hire. We all know that a company is built on the backs of its employees, making it essential to recruit the best talent available.
However, is it the work of companies to create workplace communities and promote the personal goals of employees? It is for companies that want to hire the best workers and supply an environment that they can excel in.
It’s not just employees that benefit from a healthy workforce. Healthy employees take fewer sick days, but adults who have to pay for their own healthcare solutions are not as healthy as those who receive help from work. This help can take the form of exercise programs like those mentioned above, but it can also take the form of companies offering comprehensive, powerful health insurance plans. This is especially critical as we see the number of uninsured adults rise, up to 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2017.
How Can Managers Contribute to a Healthy Workplace?
Health-related benefits are enticing to employees and can deliver cost-savings for the companies that deploy them, but blindly tossing out benefits is not way to do business. Instead, managers should take a measured approach to crafting benefit packages and related amenities that strikes a careful balance between responsible spending and effective morale boosting.
It’s critical to weigh the pros and cons of company health insurance plans. While everyone wants more expansive coverage with more benefits, tacking on features without restraint will leave you with a handful of expensive benefits that hardly anyone uses. Cover the basics first, such as emergency room coverage, support for semi-annual checkups, and immunization coverage. Some add-ons may be useful in keeping your employees happy, such as dental plans and coverage for counseling, but, unless you’re trying to lure top executives, the spa package can probably wait.
When negotiating for a health insurance plan, remember that, as a business, you are a major buyer for your provider. They should take what you have to say seriously and handle your requests as well as they are able. If they don’t, you can almost certainly find a better deal with someone else.
If you have the bases covered and you want to help your employees reach their personal fitness goals — and become more productive workers in the process — then you can start to think about ramping up fitness-oriented company events. Here are some ideas that can get you started:
- Host a company rock climbing night. Rock climbing a great company activity. It promotes physical fitness, but can also help employees get to know each and build trust within the team.
- Sponsor a team in a marathon, providing bonuses such as company t-shirts for everyone who runs. Bonus points for participating in a cause like the Race for the Cure.
- Create an athletic community within the company by posting a “outdoors partner” board for anyone who wants to hike, ski, or whatever with a group.
- Host an in-office health fair. This will prompt employees to do things like get their cholesterol checked, have their vitals evaluated, and other health checkups that they wouldn’t ordinarily get on their own.
- Give out sick days like candy. Sick days are becoming less common in modern offices, but this trend should be the other way around. By giving employees sick days, you ensure that they don’t come in and spread their germs when they’re feeling under the weather.
Earlier we mentioned the ambitious measures being taken by companies like Google with in-house exercise classes and courts to play on. You may not be ready to handle this kind of financial obligation, but there are things that smaller businesses can do. Something as simple as setting aside a conference room for light exercise — think yoga, stretching, and light weights — will help employees stay active at almost no cost to the company.
Remember that active employees work better, think more creatively, and cost the company less in lost productivity due to sickness. When there are so many positive aspects to being a health-conscious company and so few downsides, there are no excuses for any business that’s looking to place itself on the cutting edge.