By Stephen Conchie, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Herbalife Nutrition Asia Pacific
In recent years, the promotion of health and wellness at the workplace has shifted from being one of many employee benefits to become a strategic business priority. Not only does a positive working environment reduce absenteeism and corporate healthcare costs, having a culture that promotes health and wellness at the workplace plays an important role in driving employee engagement, raising business productivity and improving bottom lines.
At the same time, changing workforce dynamics are driving the growing emphasis on the need for corporate wellness. The Millennials at Work study conducted by Herbalife Nutrition in Asia Pacific found that seven in 10 millennials would be motivated to stay active if wellness initiatives were part of their company's culture. With millennials poised to form the majority of the global workforce by 2020, and 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, this generation – known for their pursuit of healthy lifestyles - will have an increasing influence on workforce dynamics and employee policies.
As we cast our sights on the future of work during this year’s Global Employee Health & Fitness Month in May, it is also timely for business leaders to review the health and wellness policies at the workplace against a backdrop of major changes brought about by technology and demographics. With technology increasingly blurring the lines between work and personal life, the growing influence of millennials and a rapidly aging workforce, this presents a critical need for organizations to rethink health and wellness programs for the future, and for everyone within the organization to play a greater role in shaping a positive working environment from the inside out.
For us at Herbalife Nutrition, we see three areas that are key in helping companies foster a healthier and more productive workplace for the future. These include promoting healthy active lifestyles, healthy eating, and mental wellness - involving business leaders and employees throughout the entire organization.
Promoting Healthy, Active Lifestyles Within and Outside the Workplace
In today’s technology connected world, striking a healthy work-life balance seems nearly impossible. With endless streams of demands being placed upon employees via a constant influx of emails and text messages, pulling all-nighters and desktop dining have become familiar scenes in today’s corporate environments.
To promote healthy, active living in today’s time-strapped working environments, organizations can make it easier for employees to adopt healthily eating habits and encourage physical activity by making these programs more accessible for them. Simple initiatives that companies can start with include organizing exercise sessions during lunchtime or in the evening at the workplace or encouraging organization-wide participation in mass sporting events.
To push the envelope further, business leaders and managers should also be encouraged to lead their teams in healthy active lifestyle initiatives. For instance, we organized a Healthy Active Lifestyle Challenge as a fun and interactive company-wide competition for leaders and managers to rally their teams to take part in physical activity and healthy eating challenges. Through this initiative, not only did the participation in corporate wellness activities increase, we also saw a significant boost in employee morale and close-knit relationships were formed between the management and their team members, resulting in a positive effect throughout our entire organization.
Encourage Healthy Eating for Employees
Being confined to the work desk for long periods, it can be tempting for employees to reach for unhealthy snacks as quick and convenient means to fuel their brain and body. In view of this trend, organizations can encourage employees to be more conscious about their food intake, and work on organization-wide initiatives to get employees to take a greater interest in healthy eating.
For example, companies may organize healthy eating days where healthier food options are catered for employees; or install vending machines within the office to provide healthy snack options. For us at Herbalife Nutrition, we invest in providing complimentary nutrition products for our employees to promote healthy eating through the organization. With the belief that good nutrition will help to foster healthier employees and a healthier workplace, we also involve our resident nutrition experts to share healthy eating tips with our employees regularly to build healthy eating habits across our offices in Asia.
Prioritize Mental and Emotional Wellness for all Employees
With more employees finding it challenging to strike a good balance between their work and personal life, employees can often end up neglecting their personal mental and emotional well-being. To provide mental and emotional health support for their employees, organizations can play an active role to incorporate mental wellness as part of corporate health and wellness programs. This can be as simple as organizing stress-relief activities such as art jamming classes and stress buster massages, like what we do at Herbalife Nutrition Hong Kong every quarter, to help our employees release stress at work for a healthier and happier life.
At the end of the day, building a healthy and more productive workplace begins from the inside out. With collective efforts made by the business leaders in shaping company-wide policies, the human resource teams and managers in rallying employees in organization-wide activities, and the employees themselves in fostering a healthy environment for their colleagues, this can have a multiplier effect in helping organizations shape healthier and happier workplaces for the future.