What Should Corporate Wellness Programs Really Look Like?

man receiving hot stone massagePiggybacking on last week’s blog on corporate wellness initiatives, let’s consider in more detail what companies can do to foster employee well-being.

The first aspect in an office setting that comes to mind is the building itself. What can companies do to promote wellness within its structure?

Daylighting and circadian lighting within a building are fundamental to employee health. Access to windows and natural light is ideal. Employers should encourage their employees to take their breaks outside or by a window.

Bringing nature indoors (biophilic design) through living walls or live plants scattered in plenty throughout the office space has been shown to improve employee well-being. A water feature can provide similar benefit.

Easy access to an abundance of filtered water is important.

Studies have shown that the ambient temperature in an office building should be set at the mid-70 Fahrenheit range.

Employing sound-absorption techniques throughout an office space can profoundly affect employee well-being by reducing noise pollution.

Balanced indoor-outdoor air exchange is a hot topic given the spotlight on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other indoor air pollutants that are continually outgassed from the products and materials that we choose for our built environments. Choosing certified green products in new construction and during renovation is the best scenario. However, ripping out all existing materials is cost-prohibitive for the majority of companies. So, focusing on an efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with superior filtration and air exchange is key.

Supplying cycling desks, treadmill desks or stand-up desks to improve circulation while working demonstrates to employees that their health is important to the company.

Making fresh fruits available, like apples, oranges and bananas that have a longer shelf life at room temperature, contributes to employee well-being and reduces both waste and cost. Offering individual packets of nut butters is another healthful idea.

While all of the above show employees that their health matters, supporting employee mental and emotional health is just as important, if not more. Leaders have to encourage employees to take time during the workday to de-stress. Incorporating quiet spaces for employees to retreat to periodically is simply a no-brainer.

We’ll discuss each of these topics in more detail in the weeks to come as the International WELL Building Institute’s first symposium, Well 2014, kicks off next week.

photo source: imagerymajestic/

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