No workplace wellness walk
By Kathryn Mayer
We all know people who are all talk and no action. In many cases, those people are us.
And in a lot of cases, those people are our employers.
I view “workplace wellness” as one of those great myths — you know, like flex time, unlimited PTO, or snowmen in summer.
I hear about it constantly — and oh, yeah, write about it, ironically enough — but part of me questions its existence.
I guess my cynicism comes from the fact that I’ve never seen it firsthand. I’ve never worked for any company that offered such a program or even fostered a so-called culture of health. I’ve never been offered reduced health care costs for getting my yearly physical, for being an ideal weight or for working out. I don’t have a standing desk. No free gym membership. Fruits and vegetables aren’t delivered to my desk. I don’t have the opportunity to take a yoga class in the middle of the day.
I’ve never participated in a workplace weigh-in, Biggest Loser style (though, let’s be honest, this is a terrifying prospect).
I’ve never even been invited on a walk with my coworkers. The only food around is when coworkers bring in doughnuts or muffins or some carb- and-fat-loaded treats on birthdays or deadline days.
Of course, workplace health and wellness is more than just physical health — it’s about managing stress levels, engaging employees, and overall, making sure your employees are happy and healthy.
Unfortunately, I don’t see that, either.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. A new study reveals the disconnect employees feel about their employers and the mythical workplace wellness culture. In a nutshell, a great deal of Americans think employers who preach about health are just paying lip service.
That sentiment exists even among employees whose workplaces have a wellness program. Keas surveyed 761 employees who participate in one of Keas’ employer health programs. Nearly nine of 10 said health is included in the company value statement, yet one-third felt their employer did not practice what it preached.
Specifically, 42 percent of employees don’t feel their company truly cares about their health and well-being. And, maybe even worse, 43 percent of employees feel executives avoid dealing with and disciplining managers who cause unhappiness and stress among employees.
On the flip side of this is the potential of workplace health: People want to be well and healthy — both physically and mentally — and they want (and many times, need) that motivation from their employers.
For example, the Keas survey reveals that 62 percent of employees believe their overall health would improve if their company did more to create a culture of health, and 66 percent believe they would be more productive and engaged at work if their company had a culture of health.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that happier employees are going to result in more productive and more engaged employees, not to mention ones that stay at their jobs longer.
It’s time for a real culture of health in the workplace — because talking the talk only goes so far. As do donuts.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com