How To Create a “Culture of Health” at Work

Wellness |
Written by Dell Dorn

Culture of Health: Part 2 in the 6-Part Series

You may have heard about a “Culture of Health” in the last few years. Workforces are finding such a health culture increasingly important, not just for their employees, but for the company overall. But what is a culture of health? “Culture” is the attitudes, behavior characteristics, and values shared by a group – what kinds of attitudes, behaviors, and values are shared by your company’s employees? In order to make a culture of health, you need to make sure every facet of your company – from how people work to how they spend their breaks – is one that is healthy and focused on wellness.


Why Do I Need a Culture of Health?

Studies show that healthy, happy employees make a healthy, happy company. Employees within a healthy work culture perform better in many ways, and can become disengaged if they’re not receiving the benefits they desire. As Limeade reported last May:

When employees believe their employer cares about their health and well-being, they are:

  • 38 percent more engaged;
  • 10 times less likely to be hostile;
  • 17 percent more likely to still be working there in one year;
  • 28 percent more likely to recommend their workplace;
  • 18 percent more likely to go the extra mile for the organization.

Most employees want benefits that center around core facets of wellness such as stress management, nutrition, physical activity, and a work-life balance. This is where a culture of health can come in handy. With the right tools and attitude, you can transform your company into one that is healthier, happier, and thus, more efficient.


How Do I Create a Culture of Health?

To create your culture of health, you first need to have the right tools. Once you have the right tools and products with which to work, then you want to make them part of your company’s norms and values. It’s a process that will require a long-term view, and it is worth the time and effort.

Get started with these 5 steps:


Encourage Physical Activity

If you want your employees to be healthy, one of the first steps is to get them moving. There are many ways you can do this:

  • Provide a fitness center. If your company’s building has the room for one, add an onsite gym with a variety of exercise equipment, weights, yoga mats, and more. If your company doesn’t have the space to add an onsite fitness center, you can alternatively provide your employees reimbursement for membership access to local gyms.
  • Encourage employees to make small efforts to take care of their physical health. Motivate them to stand up from their desk at least once every 30 minutes. Instead of holding meetings in a room full of chairs, start holding walking meetings. This will get their bodies and their minds moving. You can also suggest employees park a little farther away from the door, or use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Set up a fun weekly activity or sport. Perhaps every Friday you can invite employees to participate in a game of basketball or soccer. It will be a fun way to get some exercise and allow co-workers a change to get to know one another.


Encourage Eating Well

All the exercise in the world will only do so much if your employees still aren’t getting the nutrition they need. Look at your cafeteria, break room, or vending machines and consider what you see: Are there any healthy options? Instead of offering just a snack machine full of soda and candy bars, make sure your company provides healthier foods like fruits and vegetables.

Lunch breaks are important, and too many employees rush through them. Encourage employees to take enough time to get a healthy meal, seated somewhere peaceful where their minds can rest. During company functions, such as weekly meetings, consider serving healthy food.

You may also consider providing resources and posters on healthy eating.


Provide Wellness Programs

As of June 2015, 70% of businesses provide some form of wellness program – is yours one of them? There are a variety of wellness programs available to corporations big and small, and their return on value is immense. This is one of the clearest ways to show your employees that you care about their wellbeing, and happy, healthy employees consistently work more efficiently than those that are dissatisfied and in pain.

Get wellness programs that provide on-site therapy, informational sessions, or inspirational talks. These will help employees complete their health transformation and make their work experience that much brighter.


Reduce Stress

One of the worst obstacles to health is stress. In fact, stress leads to more well-being issues in the workplace than anything else. The first thing you can do to lessen stress is to reduce or eliminate stressors. These can be related to workload, unclear instructions, or an unhealthy work environment. Improve working conditions so that they do not cause undue stress.

It is also important that employees know how to handle their stress. For every hour of work, employees should spend at least 5 minutes resting and stretching; this will help relax their muscles and joints, and will also get them to look away from their computer for a moment and rest their eyes. This also allows them to de-stress. They should also be encouraged to take vacations regularly for a chance to fully decompress.

Provide employees with stress management information, tips on time management, and personal empowerment. When employees know how to take care of themselves mentally, they will experience less stress and ultimately be healthier.


Lead By Example

The most important thing you must do in order to create a culture of health is lead by example. Don’t just add a gym, buy apples for the break room, encourage frequent breaks – use them yourself! When your employees see you and other upper-level management using the new treadmills and attending the wellness meetings, that will encourage them to make the most of the new tools, too.

Moreover, you can further encourage employees to participate in your new culture of health by setting up fun activities and contest for them to join. For example, you can suggest employees download a free step-counting app and see who takes the most steps at the end of the week. Getting all your employees involved will be the confirmation that your company truly has a culture of health.


Hopefully these five tips will help get your company on track to having a culture of health. Keep in mind that this won’t happen over night; you will need to have a long-term view and be dedicated to fostering this culture over time. Soon enough you will see the results. Improved health and happiness leads to less presenteeism and absenteeism, reduced healthcare costs, and better productivity and performance. When your employees are healthy and well cared for, the company as a whole will flourish.

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About the Author

Dell Dorn

Dell Dorn is the founder of DORN Companies. He started DORN in 1998 to help employers save money on workers' compensation claims and reduce OSHA recordables. Today, DORN customers realize the immense cost of employee pain and the enormous impact our service has on employee morale and their bottom line.
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About the Author

Dell Dorn

Dell Dorn is the founder of DORN Companies. He started DORN in 1998 to help employers save money on workers' compensation claims and reduce OSHA recordables. Today, DORN customers realize the immense cost of employee pain and the enormous impact our service has on employee morale and their bottom line.
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