News flash: Your company is literally throwing money down the drain by not focusing on employee wellness. If you’re not intentionally focused on the health and wellness of your employees, it’s literally costing you tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of dollars a year. Your employees are getting sicker because of it and profits are going down the drain.
Don’t believe me? Employee wellness numbers don’t lie.
According to the CDC, employee absenteeism (taking the day off when you’re sick) costs American corporations $1,685 per employee in productivity. The numbers aren’t much better either for presenteeism (staying at work when you’re sick). The Harvard Business Review has found that employees who show up to work while not well result in two-thirds the total cost of employee illness. Not to mention the fact that many illnesses are contagious and can spread from Sarah in Accounting to Michael in Marketing just because they’ve touched the same door handle – yuck!
So often we immediately default to physical challenges and dietary lifestyle changes when we think about employee wellness initiatives but it’s time to upgrade our thinking. These days, it’s not a lack of physical exercise that is the biggest hurdle to employee wellness and it’s not the fact that the break room isn’t stocked with apples and oranges. No, it’s the stress we feel at work that causes employees across the country to cope with unhealthy habits.
How many times have you sat on the couch with pizza and wings for a weekend of Netflix binging because you needed to forget about the incredibly stressful challenges you’ve faced at work? How much has your waistline expanded since your last promotion – or since you launched your company – due to the exhausting pressure you feel to perform? You’re not alone.
The stress elephant in the room can be avoided no longer. We can no longer pretend that the proper response to ailing and demotivated employees at work is smoothies and step challenges. We need to reengineer the way we work and the expectations we have about work. We need to be intentional about creating an atmosphere where people feel mentally free and confident in their ability to stop and take a breather from time to time.
Here are a few helpful employee wellness tips to make your organization less stressful and more healthy and productive:
1. Encouraging Employees to Take Vacation
If we want to create an atmosphere of employee wellness, we have to encourage our employees to come up for air from time to time and take vacation. It doesn’t matter if that time away from work is spent at home decompressing or traveling to a new city, employees need vacations to reset and recharge their mental battery. A recent study by Project: Time Off revealed that Americans take a whole week less of vacation per year verse what Americans took off in 1978. Could you imagine what you’d do with an additional week of time spent with family and friends or adding cool pictures to your Instagram? I guarantee you’d be a much more refreshed and focused individual while at work and your employees would too.
There’s also a financial incentive to taking more time off. Believe it or not, HBR says that employees who take more time off get more raises than people who don’t. How’s that for combating the stigma that you’ve got to be in the office grinding away in order to get that promotion?
2. Incorporate Mindfulness Practice
Yoga. Meditation. Prayer. No matter your employee’s pathway towards reaching zen, it’s a worthwhile pursuit for you to encourage and celebrate. In a recent Business, Life, and Coffee podcast interview with Yoga Master Michael Kohan, we spoke about the vital role that mindfulness plays on awareness, engagement and productivity. Between the fights we have with our spouses before work this morning to the project deadline that looms ahead of us, we have many thoughts that compete for our attention during the day. Having the presence of mind to capture these thoughts and be present in whatever moment we are in is extremely powerful.
What if your organization was innovative enough to have a collective time of mindfulness. A five to ten minute “meeting” where you encourage employees to still their minds and seek peace. Mindfulness helps encourage self-control, flexibility, and peace of mind – all of which are important goals when addressing the next point.
3. Seek and Destroy Type-A Behavior
Behind the smile of every Type-A personality is the unbearable stress of a seemingly unmanageable workload. Okay, so that might not be true but Type-A personality often take work very seriously and display hostile and aggressive behavior that doesn’t work well in a small team environment. Scientist have produced study after study that show Type-A personalities get that way due to increased stress and that stress can be deadly. Take the image below:
Image Source: BMJ – click to enlarge
The chart shows Type-A behavioral patterns as a direct implication of home and work stress. Left unresolved, this behavior can contribute to physical manifestations of health challenges, low engagement, and lack of concentration. This behavior is exponentially toxic when displayed in a manager of people. I guarantee that there is a strong link between employees who “join organizations but leave bosses” who exhibit Type-A behavior and lash out on their teams.
If someone on your team has Type-A behavioral patterns, it’s time to speak up. What if we saw Type-A personality not as a badge of honor, but a sign that it’s time to pump the brakes a bit and take some time off? I’m sure your employees would benefit greatly from this approach.
These are just a few innovative ways you can increase mental and physical well-being at work. Employee wellness is not just about physical fitness but it’s also about mental health, focus, and clarity of mind.
Got another employee wellness tip to share? Comment below.