"Corporate wellness" is now a
$6 billion industry covering many aspects of health. While most wellness programs focus heavily on
physical health, the more progressive companies take a holistic approach;
offering resources supporting employee’s total wellbeing. Fostering positive workplace relationships, financial
security, improved physical health and active community involvement will
attract exceptional workers who will in turn, provide exceptional
However, even a company with the most robust resources and programs
to support employee wellbeing may fall flat in their efforts without a
workplace culture and environment that makes healthy choices easy. The most innovative companies are now reconstructing
their physical environment to be supportive of wellbeing by design. This attention
to the physical work environment as a part of a comprehensive wellbeing
strategy is leading to more energized, productive, thriving employees.
There are simple environmental changes that you can make without
the need for a major renovation that can have a huge impact on your workplace
culture. Consider the following, as you think about what changes would work for
Design for Physical Activity:
Maximize the appeal of stairwells. Make sure they are well
lit. Post inspirational messages or fun facts on each floor and consider
changing them periodically to keep it interesting. You can even decorate the
stairwells for holidays. Consider signs in elevators that promote the stairs,
perhaps mentioning how many calories you can burn per flight of stairs.
Encourage walking and standing meetings.
Map out walking paths with step counts and distances both
indoors and out.
Offer adjustable standing desks in individual workspaces or
in collaborative conference rooms.
Install bike racks to encourage biking to work.
Transform an empty office into a fitness resource center
with small weights, stability balls, yoga mats, and exercise bands, that
employees can use while at work.
Have managers send out “office recess” emails encouraging
everyone to stand and stretch throughout the day.
For any of these strategies you may use, it is essential that company
leadership and front-line managers promote and support the message and lead by
Encourage Nutritious Food Choices:
Provide a fruit basket with free fruit.
Host healthy pot –luck lunches where food and recipes are
shared by employees.
Replace soda cans with water bottles in your meeting and
Provide a clean and inviting space for employees to prepare
lunch and connect socially with friends and colleagues.
Create a list of nearby healthy restaurant and catering
options and make it visible.
Access to a refrigerator and microwave will at a minimum
allow employees to prepare meals at home verses grabbing fast food during the
Evaluate your vending choices and replace unhealthy snacks
with healthier options.
Reduce surgery drinks and offer access to free filtered
Consider partnering with a local CSA or farmer’s market that
can provide fresh fruits and vegetable delivery to employees each week.
Be Engaging by Design:
policies which endorse the importance of work-life integration are a crucial
starting point for a people-positive workplace. Because the office is where we
spend a large chunk of our waking hours, it is important that we make it
comfortable and inviting. Here are some small touches that can make a big
Abundance of natural light
Good air quality
Acoustics that absorb distracting noises like ringing telephones
and churning printers or installing white noise
Allow employees to add personal touches to their workspace
such as pictures of family and friends, children’s artwork, etc.
Provide ergonomic assessments for employee workstations to
minimize physical discomfort.
Though these strategies may seem trivial, when taken as a whole
they can help create a physical environment that promotes comprehensive
wellbeing for all.
Your unique culture
and industry will help determine what changes will work best for your organization.
For example, open workspaces can encourage greater collaboration and teamwork,
but can create privacy concerns and distractions for some organizations and
people. Before making design or structural changes, seek the help of experts
and always solicit employee feedback. What
will work for one company doesn’t always work for another.
What is one small
step can you implement today?