The importance of wellness in the workplace

Health & Wellbeing

The importance of wellness in the workplace

You are working long hours, perhaps you are traveling interstate or overseas and living out of a suitcase, you are not getting enough exercise and with all the long hours you are making poor eating choices. You feel your health in suffering and you're not really sure what to do about it.

Sound familiar? It should. According to research conducted by Regus and reported in the Australian Newspaper in 2012 Australia is now working longer hours than people in the Britain, USA, Canada and China. This is having a spillover effect on people's wellness and our business bottom line is feeling it.

According to the 2013 Absence Management study conducted by Direct Health Solutions Sick leave is costing Australian business in excess of 27 billion dollars every year! That's $385 per day per employee who is absent! Now I don't know about you, but that figure scares the daylights out of me.

Now it seems to me that while these studies are interesting, and there is some amazing data coming out of them, no one is paying any attention to what is going on within the businesses in the first place that could be a contributing factor. Another study by Medibank Private showed that around 85% of employees experience severe stress at work with 15% of them taking sick leave once per month.

High blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes are now 3 of the most common reasons people visit their GP and let's not even get into Australia now being one of the most obese nations on earth. I mean am I the only one that is thinking there must be something more we can do?

Well there is, there are some very easy tools and strategies that you can implement in your business today that will have a real and transformative difference not only on the health and wellness of your team but will also translate to increased productivity and a reduction in staff absences... and I'm about to give you three of them

1.  Get rid of the vending machines and replace it with healthy eating choices.

I can't tell you the number of lunch rooms and cafeteria's I go into that have vending machines with an array of soft drinks and junk food available. You may not be able to get your employees to stop drinking and eating junk food but you can stop enabling them on your time. Instead ensure there is ample supply of filtered water available and why not look into getting fresh fruit delivered for the office. 

2.  Encourage exercise.

If you are on a multi level office encourage your team to use the stairs between floors. the simple act of taking the stairs instead of jumping in the lift every time a team member needs to go between floors may be the only exercise that person gets for the day. We live extremely sedentary lifestyles and we should all encourage and motivate each other to get a little more active. Make contact with a local PT (or better still see if any of your team have one they'd recommend) or a yoga studio and offer a group disccount for anyone looking to join. Encourage team members to cycle to work (if practical). You can even jump on line and order a bulk buy of pedometers, give them away to each team member and encourage a little healthy competition.  A couple of gold class tickets each week or month is a small price to pay for healthier employees

3.  Practice mindfulness.

We know stress is a bit one in our workplace, so why not look at offering your team the opportunity to learn meditation or other stress management techniques. 5 minutes between conference calls may be the difference between someone managing their blood pressure and stress levels and someone calling in sick. My favorite quick and easy mindfulness technique when I was working a corporate high stress job was to go find a patch of grass, take my shoes off and walk around bare foot for 5 - 10 mins. There are all kinds of scientific research that back up the reasons this makes you feel good, it's been proven to lower stress, assist with sleeping, lower blood pressure and generally just help you to re-centre and focus.  

So there you have it. 3 simple and easy to implement tools that could have a ripple effect within your business like you couldn't begin to imagine. I'd love to hear your feedback on what steps you take in your business to counteract staff sick leave and how you bring a focus to wellness for your employees.




Tracy Sheen

Chief Wellness Officer at MBS Wellness

I've been studying health and wellness since the 80's but chose to follow a career in retail, some 20 years after my career began I wound up as part of a national project responsible for 4000 staff throughout the country. I understand what it is to work long hours, to travel a lot and live a highly stressful existance. After some issues with my own health I had an "A HA" moment and decided to funnel my passion for wellness and am on an absolute mission to bring wellness into our workplaces.