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How Business Leaders Can Build A Culture Of Health And Wellness

Corporate wellness is more than a trend in today's business culture. Emphasis on employee health and wellness can yield vast benefits.

Corporate wellness is more than a trend in today’s business culture. Emphasis on employee health and wellness can have a positive impact on employee stress levels and strengthen organizational performance. With employees undergoing more change and complexity in the workplace than ever before, building a culture of health is a critical part of doing business.

In order to break the cycle and restore employees’ sense of well-being, employers are taking a holistic approach to employee health and embracing corporate wellness as a culture within the organization.


Beyond Wellness Programs

Creating in-house corporate wellness programs isn’t enough to take on the monumental health challenges American adults face in the 21st century. Organizations have to do more. Nearly half of the US population is overweight or obese.

Many Americans live with multiple chronic conditions or are at risk for diminished life expectancy. Although nearly every organization has a wellness program, our nation’s average health continues a steady decline. Rising healthcare costs, an aging population, and uneven public health infrastructure throughout the country are all issues wellness programs have failed to solve. Supporting a healthy workforce can save organizations of benefit costs.

To go beyond corporate wellness programs, we have to start building health and wellness culture into our workplaces. Through a corporate culture of health, organizations can structure their entire corporate cultures in support of employees’ health, wellbeing, and wellness.


The Culture Of Health Difference

Organizational cultures shape the values, practices, and beliefs we bring with us to work every day. A culture of health emphasizes health and wellness in the workplace and aligns organizational practices with health-friendly behavior. Companies that adopt a culture of health ensure that their policies, behaviors, and operations fit with what is best for employee health.

Often, having a culture of health means your organization has a wellness program. But it’s important to understand that your culture of health should go beyond merely having a wellness program in-house. A wellness program is a good starting point and any company can use their wellness program as part of a comprehensive culture of health.

Because employee health and wellbeing matters for productivity, controlling healthcare costs, and improving job satisfaction, having a culture of health can also make good business sense and save your organization money. In the long run, building the right culture pays off for both the employee and employer.


6 Ideas For Strengthening Your Health Culture

Here’s how you can make a difference in your organization and build a culture of health in the workplace:


1. Demonstrate health and wellness

To make a culture change, leadership needs to be involved. Leaders shouldn’t just talk about a culture of health – they should live it and follow the policies and practices the organization is trying to encourage for employees.


2. Spread the word

Your employees should know what a culture of health means to your organization and they should be familiar with any wellness programs, benefits, and policies you have in place. Use employee newsletters, Zoom meetings, office huddles, and lunch-and-learn gatherings to provide information that’s relevant to your organization. If no one knows about your health programs, it’s highly unlikely they’ll reach their potential.


3. Be committed to change

Since changing a culture isn’t always easy, it’s going to require buy-in, investment, and time. Patience is needed. A culture of health isn’t a one-time event, it’s a process.


4. Develop healthy business practices

Without health-friendly policies, you may not see much of a benefit from health culture. Make sure your policies and practices are consistent with health best practices. For instance, make sure you offer enough breaks, make drinking water available to employees, and respect employee downtime – a flurry of emails while you’re on vacation isn’t likely to give you the rest you need from work.


5. Customize your wellness offerings

Many employees don’t participate in wellness programs because they aren’t a good fit for their needs. When you design your program, be sure to invite employee input and shape it around their goals and interests.


6. Educate employees about health

Some health practices are more difficult for many people, such as losing weight, but many health best practices are fairly easy. Getting higher-quality sleep, for instance, can deliver tangible benefits for your team that almost everyone can achieve. Using a memory foam mattress, going to bed earlier, and avoiding bright light from electronics just before bed can improve sleep hygiene and even deliver other non-sleep health benefits.


Build A Culture of Health 

The best way to build a culture of health is to put your employees’ wellbeing first. Yes, health-friendly practices can help you attract applicants to your job postings and can help you stay competitive as an organization, but your first priority should be creating a corporate culture that keeps employees healthy.


Megan Wright is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.


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