By Lee-Ann Watanabe, Wellness Educator

The wellness of your workforce affects every aspect of your business. An over-worked, over-loaded and stressed-out employee is less productive and will negatively affect the morale of his or her co-workers.

By making small changes to current company culture, HR leaders can help mitigate stress and set the stage so wellness programs can succeed and be sustainable.

To kickstart your company wellness, here are 3 tips for reducing stress and boosting employee wellbeing today.

Number 1: Employee wellness programs need to include a personalized, ongoing educational component. Offering formal employee assistance programs to help employees with stress management or to work through emotional issues is a great first step toward recognizing the signs of a stressed employee.

These assistance programs are the small nudges that do not add on to an employee’s “plate of work” or further their stress level and instead, allow stressed individuals to feel supported and understood.

The days of wellness programs providing quick “hits” or immediate gratification are of the past. Today’s wellness education needs to meet employees where they are, arming them with important and relevant health information they can understand and use in their daily lives. A key element of this education is helping employees know what is going on with their bodies through comprehensive testing. This may include nutritional analysis, stress level tests, biometrics and other key measures. Healthy employees use less sick-leave and result in less turn-over!

Number 2: Employee wellness programs are most successful when the company leads by example. It is common for stressed employees to rely on poor diet choices that include processed and sugar-laden food which further creates a cycle of mental and physical stress. Employers can help manage these behaviors by taking small steps to create a healthier, happier environment. For example, if you provide employee break room snacks or have vending machines, include a variety of healthy choices for your team. Instead of having a ban on music, perhaps the right kind of music can be encouraged. Research shows that relaxing music can lower stress and create a calming environment. And last but not least, employers can encourage opportunities for their staff to stand, stretch and walk during the work day. Keep in mind all of these small steps strung together result in big change, lasting behavior and permanent lifestyle shifts.

Number 3: Employee wellness programs only succeed with feedback and reinforcement that will create a positive corporate culture. In the hectic work day, Employers are so busy that sometimes positive feedback is left behind. Usually employees are the first to hear of what they have done wrong instead of hearing what they have done right and that can be downright stressful! After all, company culture is the BACKBONE of any workforce.

How to go about it? Praise goes a long way in validating the hard work that employees put forth. Repeatedly reinforce the need for weekly positive feedback where individuals are highlighted for their efforts and for going above-and-beyond, both company-wide, and in front of their fellow department members.

One great example of a positive company culture comes from Sweetgreen. This fast-casual health foods restaurant believes that the most important ingredient to success is a positive company culture. Sweetgreen promotes a positive corporate culture by offering special perks that help boost positivity and morale throughout the company.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how you can turn the tide to make your workplace a happier, healthier place. Will this require an investment? Of course, it will. Will it be worth it? Most definitely. Our Mission: Saving Lives – One Company at Time.

WYAO Hawaii is designed to support companies in the shift from an ‘activity-based’ wellness program to a thriving, integrated results-oriented wellness system. We are grounded in a nationally recognized and research-based model to assist companies through a seven-step sequence toward Workplace Wellness Success.

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