Wellness Programs - Creating Supportive Environments.

Wellness Programs - Creating Supportive Environments.

How does it feel to walk into your workplace? Do individuals look happy? is the place well lit and cheerful? Do you feel welcome, wanted and energized? Or do you feel a gloom come over you, and count the hours until you can leave?

The influence of the worksite environment on the wellness of employees is profound. First there is the physical look, feel, smell, and sounds of the place. Then you are affected by the policies, like whether others are permitted to smoke around you.

After awhile, more subtle factors begin to affect you. Do your attempts to adopt a healthier lifestyle get recognized at work, or are they sabotaged? Are your managers inspiring you by being healthful role models? Do you get regular opportunities to learn healthier behavior?

In a supportive environment, staff members feel that the organization they work for provides them with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards for healthy lifestyles.

And the spirit that results is highly contagious. Staff Members who feel cared are naturally more loyal and productive.

The following ideas will help you transform your workplace environment into one that in fact supports the wellness of your staff members and organization.

Wellness Program Ideas for Creating Supportive Environments

Wellness Friendly Facilities

When you enter a worksite, do you feel comfortable? Could you be glad working there? is there enough light and clean air? Are there pleasant work areas, places to eat decent food, take a walk before lunch? Close your eyes. How does it smell? Sound? Do the workers have enough space?

There’s no doubt that our physical environment affects us, from basic safety matters to subtle factors that may cause or reduce stress. Healthy environments often have these features -

• Vending machines with healthful food options like low-fat milk, fruits, sugar-free and caffeine-free beverages and low-calorie snacks

• Workout area, walking paths, playing fields, basketball hoop, or other exercise opportunities onsite or nearby

• Cafeteria offers healthful foods including a salad bar with low-fat dressing

• Natural light is used whenever possible; all lighting is appropriate and adequate

• Heating and ventilation is adjustable, comfortable and healthy

• No cigarette machines, ashtrays, or use of tobacco areas onsite

• Noise levels are safe and conducive to concentration

• Make sure to work station furniture conforms to ergometric standards

• Safety hazards have been eliminated

• Lockers and showers are available for workers who workout before work or during breaks

• Stairs are clean and well lit, convenient and pleasant to use

Familiarity can make it hard to evaluate a worksite. Individuals get used to stressful conditions and forget that conditions ever bothered them.

It might be useful to ask individuals who are unfamiliar with your workplace to walk through with you. Expert advisors can also help.

Proactive Wellness Policies

One clear way to influence behavior is through policies and procedures. If nurses are not allowed to work more than twelve hours in a row, there will be fewer medication errors.

When parents are permitted flextime to attend to their children’s needs, they’ll be less stressed. When employees can apply unused sick days to planned vacation time, they’ll save them up instead of calling in sick to use them all.

Supportive corporate policies may include -

• Seatbelt use required in company automobiles

• Drug and alcohol policies are appropriate to the industry

• Emergency procedures are developed, known, and practiced

• Flexible work schedules allow employees to exercise, attend children’s school conferences, etc.

• Nonuse of tobacco policy is enforced

• Excessive overtime is discouraged

• Membership at workout facility is partially reimbursed

• Shift staff members are scheduled to allow adequate rest

• Medical care coverage rewards good health

• Absenteeism policy rewards employees who don’t use sick days

• Staff Member assistance program available to help employees with chemical dependencies, depression, family problems

• Meaningful consequences are given for unsafe, unhealthy, prohibited behavior. Your corporation may have a policy against alcohol use during work hours, but when everyone looks the other way when someone comes back from lunch smelling like beer, the culture is one that allows drinking at lunch-and one in which written policies may be safely ignored.

Prohibited behaviors should be confronted promptly. Otherwise your policies become mere lip service in lieu of springboards to health.

Consistent Recognition and Rewards for Success

Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements.

You can show you value wellness by celebrating your programs and those who’ve made lifestyle improvements in business newsletters, on bulletin boards, and at annual banquets, meetings, and celebrations. Incentives are a direct way to show appreciation, too.

Wellness mentors are sought and applauded, too. Workers who support others’ efforts to improve their health are noticed and appreciated. Coworker modeling and mentoring courses can encourage those who enjoy assisting others to step forward into a new role.

Managers Model and Support Healthful Behavior

Nothing could say “We encourage you to exercise often” better than a manager going on a bicycle ride during the lunch hour–or your supervisor sitting next to you in a weight management class.

Wellness activities promote relaxed interaction between individuals from different departments and at different levels in the chain of command. That promotes relaxed communication and a feeling of solidarity that is pure gold.

Managers can also provide support for workers who are working on bettering their health. It does not take anything fancy-just a “good job” or “nice to see you at the gym” can put a glow on the cheeks of most of us.

Managers can also help by allowing workers the flexibility to attend wellness events.

Ongoing Wellness Programs

It’s important to give workers the sense that the wellness program is a permanent and important part of the organization, not a business fad. That can begin as soon as a new employee is hired.

New employees are oriented to the wellness program as among the staff member benefits. Information about the program should be presented by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable individuals who invites the new staff member to participate.

The staff members are familiar with the ongoing programs.

The programs and wellness staff are well known in the business. Opportunities to participate are abundant and it’s easy to sign up.

A wide variety of awareness classes are offered. There are topics of interest for everybody.

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