Wellness in the Workplace


Wellness in the Workplace

by Olessia Kantor
Lifestyle Wellness Professional Health

On a beautiful summer day in New York City, I was thrilled to be meeting with my friend for lunch at her office. This wasn’t any office, mind you. My dear friend worked for Google, and I was admittedly curious to see if the rumors around their cool office designs and endless amenities were true. I waited in the lobby for my friend, who came bouncing out with a huge smile on her face.

“I’ve never seen someone so happy in the middle of their workday,” I mused.

She smiled warmly in return. “Once I show you around, you’ll see why.”

And she was right, I did see it immediately. As I walked around the office, I noticed it didn’t feel like an office at all. With its cafes, outdoor terraces, themed conference rooms, and conversation areas, it felt like its own little universe, encased in an otherwise standard looking building in Chelsea. It shows Google is dedicated to having, as they put it, “the happiest and most productive workplace in the world.”

Google isn’t the only one who has recognized the increasing needs of its employees. Employers nationwide have taken notice that happier, healthier employees are more productive. To the end of health, they are willing to help in any way they can. A study by The Institute for Health Care Consumerism shows that almost 25% of employers already offer incentives for lifestyle changes, with 12% even enforcing penalties for employees that don’t make better choices. If your workplace hasn’t caught the wave just yet, fear not, for you can be the catalyst for change.

  • Get a group together to take a class. If you’re fortunate enough to have a work site that will allot you some space to host a class, talk to HR about the possibility. If not, ask around or send an email inviting people to take a class with you. You’d be surprised how many people need the support of others to get started!
  • Get a team together for a race. Aside from promoting health, team building activities like Spartan Races or Mud Runners give people the opportunity to come together in a way that their work may not foster. It’s a great way to build new relationships and develop camaraderie among employees.
  • Ask your HR department about a healthy pantry. Most companies have some sort of kitchen available to their employees. By making smarter choices when stocking your kitchen, you can help employees become healthier. Then, employees can buy these products at wholesale prices, covering the cost and saving them time and money that they might spend going out to get a snack elsewhere.
  • Partner with a local gym. Find out if any of your area gyms offer a group rate for coworkers who’d like to join. Work with the HR department to discuss the possibility of the company covering some (if not all) of the cost.
  • Hold a small fitness challenge. A popular idea among many companies is challenging employees to preserve their weight during a particular time (summer, the holidays, etc.). Offer prices of existing company swag, gift cards, anything creative! Any kind of challenge that can be held at low or no cost has the lowest barrier of entry and potential for highest turnout.

As I strolled past the final standing desk on my way out of the Google building, I thought of all the friends I had who served as both employers and employees of smaller companies. Sure, they didn’t have the same ability to transform their workplaces, but they have the most important element needed to start change; they cared about their employees, not as machines that produced results, but as people. With that element of caring and that desire to help bring positive change, the possibilities for their workplaces, and yours, are endless.