Precisely how does it feel to walk into your worksite? Do people look happy? is the place well lit and cheerful? Do you feel welcome, wanted and energized? Or do you feel a gloom come over you, and count the hours until you can leave?
The influence of the workplace environment on the wellness of personnel is profound. First there is the physical look, feel, smell, and sounds of the place. Then you’re affected by the policies, like whether others are permitted to smoke around you.
After awhile, more subtle factors start to affect you. Do your attempts to adopt a healthier lifestyle get recognized at work, or are they sabotaged? Are your managers inspiring you by being healthful role models? Do you get regular opportunities to learn healthier behavior?
In a supportive environment, staff members feel that the company they work for provides them with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards for healthy lifestyles.
And the spirit that results is highly contagious. Employees who feel cared are naturally more loyal and productive.
The following ideas will help you transform your worksite environment into one that in truth supports the wellness of your workers and organization.
Health Promotion Program Ideas for Creating Supportive Environments
Wellness Friendly Facilities
When you enter a workplace, do you feel comfortable? Could you be glad working there? is there enough light and clean air? Are there pleasant work areas, places to eat decent food, take a walk before lunch? Close your eyes. Exactly how does it smell? Sound? Do the workers have enough space?
There is no doubt that our physical environment affects us, from basic safety matters to subtle factors that could cause or reduce stress. Healthy environments often have these features -
o Vending machines with healthy food options like low-fat milk, fruits, sugar-free and caffeine-free beverages and low-calorie snacks
o Workout area, walking paths, playing fields, basketball hoop, or other exercise opportunities onsite or nearby
o Cafeteria offers healthful foods including a salad bar with low-fat dressing
o Natural light is used whenever possible; all lighting is appropriate and adequate
o Heating and ventilation is adjustable, comfortable and healthy
o No cigarette machines, ashtrays, or use of tobacco areas on-site
o Noise levels are safe and conducive to concentration
o Be certain to work station furniture conforms to ergometric standards
o Safety hazards have been eliminated
o Lockers and showers are available for staff who workout before work or during breaks
o Stairs are clean and well lit, convenient and pleasant to use
Familiarity may make it hard to evaluate a workplace. Individuals get used to stressful conditions and forget that conditions ever bothered them.
It may be useful to ask people who are unfamiliar with your worksite to walk through with you. Professional advisors can also help.
Proactive Health Promotion Policies
One clear way to influence behavior is through policies and procedures. If nurses are not allowed to work more than twelve hours in a row, there are going to be fewer medication errors.
If parents are permitted flextime to attend to their children’s needs, they will be less stressed. If employees can apply unused sick days to planned vacation time, they will save them up in lieu of calling in sick to use them all.
Supportive corporate policies could include -
o Seatbelt use required in business automobiles
o Drug and alcohol policies are appropriate to the industry
o Emergency procedures are developed, known, and practiced
o Flexible work schedules allow staff to exercise, attend children’s school conferences, etc.
o Nonsmoking policy is enforced
o Excessive overtime is discouraged
o Membership at fitness facility is partially reimbursed
o Shift workforce are scheduled to allow adequate rest
o Medical care coverage rewards good health
o Absenteeism policy rewards workers who don’t use sick days
o Employee assistance program available to help personnel with chemical dependencies, depression, family problems
o Meaningful consequences are given for unsafe, unhealthful, prohibited behavior. Your business may have a policy against alcohol use during work hours, but when everyone looks the other way when someone comes back from lunch smelling like beer, the culture is one that allows drinking at lunch-and one in which written policies can be safely ignored.
Prohibited behaviors ought to be confronted promptly. Otherwise your policies become mere lip service in lieu of springboards to health.
Consistent Recognition and Rewards for Success
Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements.
You can show you value wellness by celebrating your health promotion programs and those who’ve made lifestyle improvements in organization newsletters, on bulletin boards, and at annual banquets, meetings, and celebrations. Incentives are a direct way to show appreciation, too.
Wellness mentors are sought and applauded, too. Employees who support others’ efforts to improve their health are noticed and appreciated. Peer modeling and mentoring courses can encourage those who enjoy assisting others to step forward into a new role.
Managers Model and Support Healthful Behavior
Nothing could say “We encourage you to exercise often” better than a manager going on a bike ride during the lunch hour–or your supervisor sitting next to you in a weight control class.
Wellness activities promote relaxed interaction between people from different departments and at different levels in the chain of command. That promotes relaxed communication and a feeling of solidarity that is pure gold.
Managers can also provide support for staff who are working on improving their health. It doesn’t take anything fancy-just a “good job” or “nice to see you at the fitness club” can put a glow on the cheeks of most of us.
Managers can also help by permitting staff members the flexibility to attend wellness events.
Ongoing Health Promotion Programs
It’s vital that you give workforce the sense that the health promotion program is a permanent and important part of the company, not a company fad. That can start as soon as a new worker is hired.
New personnel are oriented to the health promotion program as one of the employee benefits. Information about the health promotion program must be presented by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable person who invites the new employee to participate.
The workers are familiar with the ongoing health promotion programs.
The health promotion programs and wellness staff are well known in the business. Opportunities to participate are abundant and it’s easy to sign up.
A wide variety of awareness classes are offered. There are topics of interest for everybody.
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