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Introduction to Workplace Wellness

November 8, 2013 in Community Issues, Families & Children, Health & Fitness, Latest Articles, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized

What do moustaches, yoga and the NHS all have in common?

Lack of time is largely blamed for why people do not exercise enough. The average adult person sleeps away one third of his or her daily life and works for another third. This hasn’t yet accounted for time spent commuting, preparing food or doing domestic chores.

Gone are the youthful days of being able to eat Big Macs, drink gallons of Coca-Cola and slump for hours in front of the TV without putting on weight. Obesity and obesity-related diseases are at record-levels all over the world, and sedentary lifestyles – combined with too much processed, fattening food – is largely to blame. Heavy corporate lunches, snacking at your desk, driving to work and that post-work glass of wine (or two) add to the unhealthiness.

Aside from extra weight gained, about 10.8 million work days were lost in the UK because of work-related stress, depression and anxiety from 2010 to 2011 (NHS).

Bad employee health also has large costs for employers. Absenteeism, as well as disability, injury and healthcare claims, all contribute to company overheads. Organisations can drive down costs down by implementing workplace wellness activities and initiatives to improve overall employee health.

What is Workplace Wellness?

The concept of workplace wellness has been widened over the past ten years to cover the “culture of health” within the workplace.

Workplace wellness can refer to organisational policies designed to encourage better employee health, both mental and physical. These include measures such as allowing flexitime to fit around exercise, offering on-site kitchen and eating areas, providing healthy food options in vending machines, holding “walk and talk” meetings, and offering monetary and other motivations to participate, among many other possibilities.

Outside of corporate policy, wellness covers all aspects of health, from physical fitness, to healthy eating, getting some fresh air and general mental wellbeing. Many people have been integrating “workplace wellness” into their own routine of commute, morning snack, lunch with colleagues and dinner with the family.

What are the Benefits?

As a result, people are happier at work, are more productive, more motivated and live longer. Believe it or not, work is actually good for your health because it encourages social integration and a sense of pride. Happier people have improved immunity to disease.

It’s all about juggling healthy activities to fit in with your daily routine. We want to review some of the things that you can do to improve employee health at your organisation.

Workplace Wellness: Case Studies

Jessica Heath, Administrator at the Royal College of Nursing, has introduced group yoga sessions at her workplace. She set this up because she thinks it’s really important to maintain a healthy mind-set.

“When we work, we’re all really stressed, but physical exercise makes you feel better and more productive at work. I’m sat at a desk all day and not moving, so it’s convenient to have something quick, say 15-20 minutes.”

There are other reasons why workplace wellness is so important. “It strengthens bonds with people to take part in community activities. It makes a difference to work at a place where everyone supports each other. Work is not just a place you go to get money; it’s a part of your life.”

She has also organised a “Positivity Day” to encourage people to think positively. “We did some inspirational videos, and ran yoga to introduce people to different types of physical activity. We had a positive space where we brought in baby pictures and guessed who they were. Learning, physical activity and playing a game for fun are all different types of positive activities. One of the key things is laughing together,” she says.

The Royal College of Nursing have won awards for their workplace wellness programme. Rightly so, since “a lot of people need more support in living a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it’s important for work to prize your health.”

The Movember campaign across workplaces worldwide draws attention to the importance of men’s health awareness. Men are encouraged to grow moustaches for the entire month of November to highlight the important issues of prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health, raising money for charity in the process. Click here to find out how you can donate.

Workplace Wellness and Beyond

The Centre for Workplace Health (CWH) in Sheffield was launched in 2005. A partnership between University of Sheffield, the Health and Safety Laboratory and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, it seeks to achieve national targets set out by UK Government.

You can join in by seeing if there are any activities to take part in at your office or organisation. If there aren’t, take Jessica’s lead and see if you can set up one of your own. If you’re not working for any reason, whether it’s because you’re studying, out of work or a stay-at-home parent, don’t fret! There are many programmes you can join to improve health and wellness.

Check out FunMeFit’s member directory for activities in Sheffield and elsewhere! Click here to find out more about workplace health.

By Catherine Heath