Wellness programs and benefit packages at work are starting to trend and become the new hype. I even heard of a law firm in Santa Monica, California that would set aside a few hours each week for yoga. When your job is behind you in trying to make sure that you are healthy that pushes you more to do so. Employers are not just doing this to better your health, but they know if you are in a better state of mind you will produce better work. (Image by tim caynes via Flickr)
What are wellness programs and why do many organizations offer them to their employees?
Traditional wellness programs include nutrition and weight control, smoking cessation, fitness and stress reduction. Companies have found that these programs provide a significant return on investment, for the employer, the employee and their families.
Johnson & Johnson, a leader in wellness programs, offers a $150 benefits bonus to overweight employees who reduce their body mass index by 10 percent. Its wellness program slowed the rate of increase of healthcare costs by $565 per employee. Citibank debuted a wellness program in 2008 and found that every dollar spent on wellness returns $2 to the company!
Interestingly, many organizations are turning to an old Buddhist tradition called mindfulness as a path toward stress reduction. Our modern world is filled with distractions – gadgets, electronics, texting, emails, calls – which almost seek instantaneous responses and multiple demands for our attention. Workers feel compelled to multitask.
Mindfulness is a state of open, active and nonjudgmental attentiveness to the present. It’s an awareness of moment to moment experiences. Companies such as Google, Target and General Mills are offering courses in meditation and mindfulness to their employees.
Effective leaders and employees need to pay attention to what’s happening around them. Good decision-making requires focus, clarity and calm. In addition to reducing stress, employers who offer mindfulness training are finding that employees are more focused and productive.
Mindfulness can be as simple as following your breath – breathe deeply from your belly or lower lungs and follow your breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Listening to music – any type of slow-tempo music to feel calming effects – is another easy technique. Observing your thoughts, rather than becoming involved in the moment, might be calming for you.
A well-managed wellness program can have impact on employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. When employees feel that their employer cares about them as individuals, they tend to be more productive and to want stay where they are valued.
Wellness benefits in the work force are something that is definitely worth taking up if your job does offer it. To be able to start feeling better will also make you start working better and possibly not dread going to work anymore because you are in a good place mentally and physically.