Over the past decade, the definition of a "traditional" workplace has radically changed -- standing desks, open offices, walking meetings and remote workers have transcended the workplace beyond the standard cubicle wall. This workplace revolution has renewed employee expectations -- as more companies create inspired, innovative and hands-on environments, the demand for additional workplace benefits in the form of flexible hours, onsite daycare options and expanded healthcare provisions grows.
With the modern employee's demands skyrocketing and expectations remaining high, today's employers are faced with an ongoing struggle to engage and retain the best and brightest employees, while simultaneously fostering a solid cultural foundation that has health at its core. Companies like Facebook and Google are leaders in implementing healthy, inspiring workplace cultures: They've publicly surmounted the challenge of creating a sustainable program, providing benefits for employees that cater to their needs both in and out of the workplace. That said, building a reputable company culture is no easy feat.
Revamping Culture Starts with Authenticity
It's not uncommon for employers to attempt solving cultural shortcomings with a band-aid, employing common, hasty fixes like spot-bonuses and short-term perks. While a seemingly successful cure on the surface, employees are quick to recognize when an employer's motives are self-serving. Adopting an offhand, minimalistic approach to employee engagement does the exact opposite of what may have been intended, likely alienating a substantial portion of a company's workforce.
The true remedy for increasing employee engagement and productivity lies in creating a genuine culture of health. According to a recent Keas survey, 50 percent of employees would stay at their current company for more than 10 years if they did more to create a culture of health. This idea of a 'culture of health' has now transformed from an ideological concept to a serious business tool for HR to bring to executive management for discussion.
According to a recent report from Towers Watson, employers recognize that a culture of health is an essential factor for success, and a lack of it affects workforce performance.
However, many employers are still mystified about what a true culture of health actually involves and don't know how to start building one. They often encounter roadblocks and frustrations when attempting to alter the fabric of their company culture for the better.
Here are three ways employers can create a culture of health for their employees and remove the drag of employee disengagement:
Transform Company Culture at its Core
Health in the workplace is often seen as a low priority or as an add-on that employers should eventually "get around to doing". However, this mindset is no longer practical, nor is it business savvy. The importance of adding health to the corporate culture mix is paramount to developing an engaging company culture. Weaving health into the fabric of company culture - from development of healthy habits to encouraging use of biometric data - can have tremendously impact in workplace satisfaction and performance. In turn, this has real financial benefits in the form of reduced turnover, sick days and PTO, and increased productivity.
Be Supportive and Make it Desirable
Consider this: If a company states that employee health is a top priority, yet frowns upon employees leaving their desks during the day for short periods of time, what is the likelihood that any real, significant cultural changes will occur?
A supportive corporate culture should give employees the freedom to balance work and healthy living. Companies adopting educational programs that make understanding health (and benefits) fun and social will be more likely to have employees who want to participate -- and improve their health. Options include anything from holding a meeting outside to implementing a corporate wellness solution. As long as employers are invested in, and supportive of, the programs they chose to implement, then their employees will feel comfortable and enthusiastic with making small, meaningful changes.
Walking the Talk is Essential
Employers should always practice what they preach in terms of their health initiatives. It is extremely important for senior leadership to model and support the values of the organization they expect the team to emulate. Why? Because employers can be powerful change agents. In making health a priority, and taking an altruistic approach to employee health and happiness, employers will create a snowball effect, driving sustained healthy behaviors adopted by employees.
It is meaningful for employees to know that their employers have good intentions for them and when they are ready to engage, the tools and support are there for them. And, over time, employees will begin to associate healthy living as a key to success in their company.
Why Does This Matter?
The importance of improving corporate culture is unparalleled, and it starts with creating a culture of health that is seamlessly integrated into all of an organization's values. Once a culture of health permeates a company from the top-down, everyone benefits. The impact of this is far reaching, decreasing spending on healthcare and improving employee satisfaction, productivity and collaboration.