There’s never been a better time to focus on workplace wellness. After all, improving employee wellness, engagement, and morale not only benefits employees but is also tied to better outcomes for patients. In fact, the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan has recently begun examining the link between value-based care and workplace wellness. The Center suggests that combining value-based care models with workplace wellness strategies “allows businesses to maximize their investment in employee health” while creating a long-term return on investment when it comes to patient care and satisfaction.
So, how can you promote wellness in your clinic? Here are seven habits to help you get started.
1. Practice gratitude to make your employees feel valued.
A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that employees who feel valued are “more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation, compared to those who do not feel valued by their employers.”
Clearly, there is a connection between feeling valued and being happy, so let your employees know how much you appreciate them. Making gratitude a habit will help you encourage your employees and contribute to their overall wellness. (Psst! Check out this blog post for some fresh ideas of how to show staff appreciation.)
2. Encourage physical movement.
As we so often tell patients, movement is one of the key pillars of wellness. Similarly, prioritizing movement breaks in the workplace can help promote a healthy work-life balance as well as improve focus while at work—boosting employee morale in the long run. There are many practical ways to encourage more movement in your practice, such as:
- Installing standing desks for your front office staff;
- Opting for walking meetings whenever possible; and
- Encouraging employees to participate in various movement challenges throughout the year (e.g., step challenges, healthy eating challenges, daily burpee breaks).
You can also incentivize staff with fun fitness gadgets (e.g., a pedometer), reusable water bottles, gym membership, or fitness app discounts.
3. Help employees focus on their mental health.
Never before have we better understood the link between mental health and overall wellness. According to the CDC, our mental health affects not only how we think, feel, and act, but also determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions. Pretty important, right?
In this fast-paced world, sometimes employees need a reminder to slow down and check in with their mental health. You can encourage them to do this by:
- Providing educational resources for employees to use, such as apps for meditation and relaxation, like Calm or Headspace;
- Encouraging employees to actually use allotted breaks and lunch hours;
- Offering flex hours or the option to work from home when needed (if possible);
- Limiting unnecessary emails, and even encouraging periods where employees keep their phones in a desk drawer; and/or
- Sending out an anonymous survey periodically to assess your employees’ mental health levels. Based on the results, you can then identify stressors that could be minimized or eliminated.
4. Bring some green into the workplace.
No, we’re not talking about veggies—although we’ll get to that later! We’re talking about plants. Research shows that green space is good for mental health. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Technology, Sydney found that adding plants to a workplace resulted in a 37% reduction in anxiety, reduced chronic fatigue by almost 40%, and reduced reported depression by 58%. The major decor points that will be added to your workspace are just an added bonus.
An easy way to bring more green into your space is by adding plants and natural elements. Choose plants that are easy to take care of like succulents, ZZ plants, snake plants, and other similar plants. This will give everyone a wellness boost without adding the responsibility of keeping a fussy plant alive.
5. Provide healthy food alternatives.
You can help employees make smarter nutrition choices by offering healthy lunch and snack alternatives. Replacing sugary snacks with healthy options in the breakroom pantry or vending machine is a great way to encourage healthy eating.
Also, make sure to give employees enough time to eat a proper lunch so that they don’t feel the need to skip it altogether. Encourage hydration throughout the day by keeping water stocked and in a convenient spot or offering reusable water bottles.
6. Keep it social.
Social interactions play an essential role in overall well-being. There are many easy-to-implement ways to put emphasis on social engagement, like:
- Clinic lunches,
- Walking clubs,
- Team breakfasts, and
- Wellness retreats.
Even the occasional happy hour can be a fun way to get the gang together outside the walls of your clinic. Social events build stronger relationships between employees, which is a huge part of solidifying a healthy workplace culture.
7. Focus on rest.
Without proper rest, it’s only a matter of time before employees will feel burnt out. To avoid this common scenario, encourage rest as much as possible. If circumstances allow, encourage employees to have a power nap during the workday. There are countless benefits to power naps, as they improve not only wellness but also productivity. If you really want to kick it up a notch in this area, you could even designate a “nap room” in the clinic.
So, there you have it: seven easy ways to cultivate workplace wellness. Do you have some practical ways you promote wellness in your practice, or do you have ideas that you’d like to implement in the future? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below—we’d love to hear them!