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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.

Corporate Wellness Programs…Do They Really Work?

sphygmomanometer free imageImagine if your employer asked you what your cholesterol level is, your BP (blood pressure), how often you exercise, what your reproductive plans are, if you’re happy at home…oh wait, they do!

Corporate Wellness programs often include questionnaires with very personal questions that seemingly have nothing to do with your work life. Employers want to reduce health care costs and, with good intentions to improve employee health, they engage corporate wellness firms to put wellness programs in place. Do these wellness programs improve well-being?

Some say yes:

Open Letter… Dear CEOs,

Corporate Meditation Rooms

Dear CEOs,

If it’s true that actively disengaged workers are costing the US $550 billion (Gallup) in economic activity annually and stress is costing American businesses $300 billion per year (World Health Organization), doesn’t it follow that even if we make slight improvements in employees’ lives, the net savings or contributions to economic activity could be in the hundreds of millions, if not in the billions?

How do we do this? There’s no pill…no single solution; however, small steps add up to big changes. One small step is tweaking how we view our employees. Whole beings who have whole lives walk through the office doors each morning with whole stuff going on…stuff from home, stuff from yesterday at work…emotional stuff, mental stuff, physical stuff, spiritual stuff, social stuff (some add environmental). How can you, as a CEO, address each of these facets of health in each of your employees?

You cannot. What can you do?

Creating Third Spaces within the Workplace

Woman on phone lying on couch w booksWhat are Third Spaces? And how do they affect you?

The first space is home. The second space is work. All other spaces in between that build community are often called Third Spaces.

In The Great Good Place, urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg discussed the power of third places, “informal public gathering places  [like]…cafes, coffee shops, bookstores and bars.”  According to Oldenburg, “social well-being and psychological health depend upon community.”

We spend most of our waking hours at work, so it follows that we incorporate these Third Spaces into the work setting to encourage social and psychological health.

What do You Want in Your Meditation Room? Here’s Your Checklist

Meditation Rooms

If you could have a space in your office building where you could go to relax for a few minutes each day, sit silently or listen to calming music, would you use it?

What kind of audio would you like…nature sounds, chimes, soft music (classical, jazz or chill out)?

  • Would you like to have a guided meditation option on audio?
  • Would you bring your own MP3 player and earbuds to the room?
  • Would you like the audio to be piped in to the room or have access to individual headphones?

Would you like to have a view with windows or a dimmer room with less distraction?

Quiet Spaces in the Workplace: When do We Go?

Images often speak louder than words…

Blog 13 flow chart version 3

A State of Digital ‘Un’Distraction

zen-stonesI spent Labor Day weekend in a state of forced digital ‘un’distraction. “Refrain from using cell phones in the spa. Please leave them in your locker.” Yikes. I didn’t remember that from last time. I considered the size of my robe pocket and how it would droop with a rectangular silhouette if I slipped it in on the sly. Uh-uh. I slumped away…digitally naked.

It was anxiety-inducing for a few minutes. My phone with its email chimes, calendar dongs and text chirps is at the ready 17-7 (24 hours minus 7 for sleep). The only other time I turn it off is to meditate for 15 minutes during daylight. I am ON. Except at the spa. But here’s what I learned…

Meditation vs. Prayer in the Workplace

business ppl sitting quietly listeningIf our office has a Meditation Room, shouldn’t we also have a Prayer Room or a chapel?”

prayer: an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought

meditation: the act or process of spending time in quiet thought

Merriam-Webster may have strict definitions for prayer and meditation, but for the sake of this blog, we will more loosely use meditation as quieting the mind.

The idea behind a Meditation Room is not to introduce religion into the workplace.

The Secret to Productivity while Working from Home

woman working from home laptopWorking from home? Don’t think you’re exempt from meditating. We working-from-home folks need it more than ever. The doorbell, the phone, the whiff of toast, or dog, scream for your attention distracting you from your memo (do people still write memos?).

Momentum is huge first thing in the morning. It wanes slightly as our stomach gurgles, desperate for nutrition, and plummets as the afternoon lull sets in. We have hours left before the kids burst through the door…prime working time. Good time to meditate. What?!

The A-Zs on Making the Most of Your Meditation Room

Corporate Meditation Rooms

The possibilities are endless on how to create a serene, calming space for your employees. But this is a good start…

A Air Quality – Use products with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

B Bring paraphernalia – If you or your employees have your own headphones, MP3 player or icon you like to use, bring it. Be respectful of the noise level and display of icons.

C Clean – Talk with your janitorial staff and facilities management about how often you want your Meditation Room cleaned.

D Disabilities – Follow ADA guidelines in renovating or building your Meditation Room to accommodate all of your staff.

E Encourage – Encourage your staff to use their  Meditation Room…it’s not going to be very beneficial to have a beautifully renovated space with no one in it.