A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. The focus of wellness in the workplace should be on both the mental and the physical aspects, as the two often go hand in hand. Promoting health and wellness in the workplace has the added benefit of assisting employees in their personal lives. After all, life tends to blend together, so promoting mental and physical health in the workplace will have a spill-over effect to employees’ personal lives.

What can you do as a business owner to promote and encourage wellness? A few suggestions are as follows:

• Create opportunities for wellness. For example, start a noon hour walking, running or yoga club.
• Include subsidized gym memberships as part of your total rewards/benefits package.
• Develop an on-site gym. Note that this doesn’t have to be anything overly expensive or extravagant – a treadmill, stationary bike and a few free weights can do the trick!
• Arrange training or workshops that focus on mental health. One example is a workshop that provides employees with stress management techniques.
• Contract with a provider of counselling services for your employees (and potentially their spouse/dependents). In many organizations this is known as an Employee and Family Assistance Program.
• Create a culture where mental health is talked about openly and comfortably.
• Where appropriate, create policies or guidelines that promote health and wellness for all employees. For example, promoting a scent-free environment is a way to create safety for those with scent allergies.

As a business owner, it’s important to “walk the walk” when it comes to wellness. Making time to participate in wellness activities will signal to your employees that this is a priority and will ultimately encourage others to participate as well. Additionally, your involvement will further develop the wellness culture within the organization.

Employees who are healthy and engaged in their work are much less likely to be absent from work than those who are not. If not healthy, employees will take more sick leave and are more prone to long-term absences. Of course, this has a negative impact on the workplace in the sense that other employees will need to constantly pitch in for absent employees and/or you will have a need to recruit employees to fill absences. As well, absenteeism and presenteeism – where employee are physically at work but mentally checked out – have a negative impact on workplace morale and ultimately on the culture of the organization.

Invest in wellness in your workplace – even small initiatives can have a positive impact – your employees and the entire organization will reap the benefits!

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