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Wellness Initiatives are Good for the Waistline and the Bottom Line!

Link Blog | June 20, 2018

Wellness Initiatives are Good for the Waistline and the Bottom Line!

Last year, Japanese company Piala granted non-smoking employees an extra 6 days annual leave. This was done in an effort to reward those employees with the amount of time off it was estimated smokers took on “cigarette breaks” during the working year. The Head of the company said that he wanted to discourage smoking through incentives rather than coercion. It’s an effort to introduce healthier practices in the work place and is part of a growing focus on “Employee Wellness” across the world. In the 1980s, Japanese workers were doing calisthenics on the roof of their workplaces, while Irish workers still had an ashtray at most desks. While we may have thought the Japanese custom unusual, even comical, at the time, if you look at the focus on health and wellness in Irish workplaces today you realise that we are now much closer to the Japanese of the 1980s than the Irish of that era. But, how do Irish workplaces rate in 2018? What wellness programmes do Irish companies run, and are they just a fad or do they produce real benefits?

Irish companies have introduced a number of these initiatives in recent years. From bowls of fruit on every floor, to gyms on site, to Pilates classes at lunch, employers are providing workers with ample opportunity to stay fit and healthy. In addition, and equally important, companies now provide rest rooms and mindfulness classes as well as access to other schemes beneficial to mental health. This isn’t all guided by altruism of course. Employers make this investment to see a return. Companies hope that the money spent on these initiatives will produce a win-win outcome. The expectation is that fitter and happier employees will be more productive and more likely to remain with the company.

One example often cited to back up this expectation is that of Johnson & Johnson. Since 1995 the percentage of employees at the company who smoke has dropped by two thirds, with the number experiencing high blood pressure, or who are physically inactive falling by more than half. An analysis of the benefits to the company of the investment in wellness initiatives found that over a decade they saved the company $250m, as a result of a decrease in sick days and other related costs of having a less healthy workforce. The return on investment to the company was $2.71 to every $1 spent.

If you are a small business owner reading this, you might think that such initiatives cost money which you don’t have to invest in the first place, but you don’t have to go for the “platinum package” to make a difference. At Link Personnel, we ensure staff don’t feel under pressure to work through lunch or to work late and look for other ways to make work an easier place to be. For instance we recently instituted a “clean inbox” strategy which involves other staff members monitoring the e-mails of a colleague on holidays. The person on annual leave doesn’t have to worry about e-mails when they are away and don’t have to come back to 2 weeks of unread messages which will take days to sift through. This reduces stress, increases the company’s productivity and responsiveness and is basically cost free.

Employee wellness programmes aren’t as fancy as they sound. By making some effort to reduce stress, increase staff fitness and focus somewhat on mental health, employers will get happier, healthier and more productive employees.

Companies with healthy staff are more profitable, but of course workers benefit too as the healthy mind and body don’t just last from 9-5. It’s such a simple idea it is a wonder that it’s taken so long to capture the imagination (and purse strings) of employers.

If you would like to work in a company that offers similar benefits, speak to us today. 

Call Link Personnel on 01 845 6312

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