Workplace wellness, part of the mandate of the Affordable Care Act, should become a buzzword in 2015. As hiring rebounds after a great holiday shopping season, employees want more than just health insurance at the office. Workers want to feel good, and wellness programs can deliver.
Brian Shapland, writing for BLR, explains younger professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 do not want to feel "tethered to a workstation" all day like cattle in a feeding stall. Employers have noticed. Some forward-thinking companies have Ping-Pong tables, relaxing couches and employee nap times at the office. Workplace wellness has moved beyond bottles of hand sanitizers, free child care or discount prescription medications. Shapland predicts what wellness trends to watch for in 2015 based on data from workplace professionals.
One survey, conducted by Turnstone, examined responses of more than 500 small business owners who employ fewer than 100 people. Overall indicators point to employees who like a flexible work culture that personalizes the experience of each employee. Owners are finding that more flexibility leads to greater retention, better production and better bottom lines. All of this leads to greater profits, which is the goal of any small business.
Small business owners must realize that not everyone works the same way. While some may prefer a constant buzz around the office, others like quiet spaces to concentrate. Owners should match someone's needs to how they produce. Varied spaces enhance workplace wellness and make offices more inviting. Make your business a place the employee wants to come to every morning.
Customized work spaces can have lounge chairs for easy-going tasks such as checking emails. However, busy work such as contacting clients, writing code or performing vital tasks can have traditional desk settings. Varying a workplace gives employees something different to look at every day instead of the same-old, white-walled cubicle. Have weekly fitness competitions or "moving meetings" done through cell phones. Create a relaxing lounge space to get employees to loosen up during downtime away from the desk. A one-size-fits-all cubicle approach no longer works.
Workplace wellness should be a priority for companies. Have employees take stretch breaks every hour during designated times. Provide snacks, bottled water and adjustable seats. Make everything as ergonomic as possible for every employee. Wellness trends include different seating arrangements and desk styles. Not everyone works well sitting in an upright chair for eight hours.
A study done in 2012 by Principal Financial states 62 percent of American workers believe workplace wellness initiatives improve overall health. Half of those surveyed believe a wellness program is a viable fringe benefit that helps retain employees.
Employers can even encourage workers to join wellness programs by offering greater contributions to health plans, health savings accounts or additional time off work. The Principal Financial study showed wellness programs result in fewer missed days of work, which, in turn, leads to greater productivity and reduced costs.
Workplace wellness continues to drive small businesses that realize healthy employees are happier and work better. Improving the quality of life for all workers is no longer just about health insurance, sick leave and gym memberships. These types of initiatives are about taking care of your most important asset — the employee.
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