Workplace Wellness Programs – Can They Improve Productivity?

how workplace wellness programs can improve productivity

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If you have implemented a workplace wellness program in your company as an employer, your aim must have been to enhance productivity by minimizing the health costs incurred in employee absenteeism due to ill health, and producing productivity due to having healthier workers. However, implementing a workplace wellness program is only one part of the equation. Whether your employees are honestly participating is more important.

Unfortunately, studies have not exactly confirmed whether or not workplace wellness programs actually work. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,

“Employees exposed to a workplace wellness program reported significantly greater rates of some positive health behaviors compared with those who were not exposed, but there were no significant effects on clinical measures of health, health care spending and utilization, or employment outcomes after 18 months.”

More often than not, employees generally tend to avoid workplace wellness programs and make excuses because they don’t want to get involved. Despite the true effectiveness of the program, you can get saddled with a workers’ compensation claim due to the unhealthy lifestyle of your employees.

However, if you use a team building activity company or implement a workplace wellness program that employees will engage in, there’s a big chance that your workplace wellness program will be a success and that you will help improve your employees health!

Why Are Office Workers Often Unhealthy?

Employees, especially those with sedentary office jobs, suffer from physical inactivity more often than they should. They may also eat a poor diet composed of junk food due to the non-availability of healthy options- which further compounds the situation. Thus, it is not surprising to find office workers and other types of employees who increasingly have Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and other “lifestyle” diseases.

For example, in the United States alone, recent studies suggest there are 30 million employees who have Type 2 diabetes and another 84 million who are diagnosed as pre-diabetics.

The cost of managing diseases is a whopping $300 billion, much of which is footed by employers!

Not only does this include the cost of medical care but also lost work days and decreased productivity.

What Types of Workplace Wellness Programs are Necessary?

Unhealthy employees are a burden on the employer since they have to bear much of their financial impact. The health and productivity of employees make corporate wellness programs a necessity.

Such programs focus on three essentials– mental health, physical health, and nutrition.

Mental Health

 If employees are given adequate rest time or granted authorized vacation time, it tremendously helps in improving their mental health. However, the ground realities are different for most companies.

According to Project Time Off, a Washington-based coalition, almost 206 million vacation days were forfeited by employees in 2016 alone.

Proper corporate wellness programs emphasize the importance of adequate rest time and vacations.

Building Blocks for Adults – An Example of a Workplace Wellness for Mental Health

One of the more famous concepts of modern office work is that allowing people to play with “toys” increases their creative ability. This is a concept which is relevant in the fitness industry; as well as in business. Specifically, allowing adults to use building blocks is one of the more unique ways to give workers a mental break, and help stimulate positive mental health.

When the mind is actively working on a project that isn’t directly related to the goal you are trying to accomplish, it can grow, and it allows for the possibility of creating more unique and complex thoughts.

Many people understand that it is important for young children to play with LEGOs or building blocks, but the concept hasn’t fully been applied to adults yet.

As stated in a research study published in Learning and Instruction,

“results suggest that Lego construction ability is positively related to mathematics performance, and visuospatial memory fully mediates this relationship. Future work of an intervention study using Lego construction training to develop visuospatial memory, which in turn may improve mathematics performance, is suggested.”

Although the adult mind is already formed and the effects are relatively different, the concept remains the same. Using building blocks is an excellent way to stimulate positive mental health.

Businesses have begun letting their employees play with “toys” even during business hours for this reason, and it is a practice which you can easily adapt to your own life! There have been many studies in the past on the ability of “play” time to improve the creative thinking and cognitive function of young children, and these same concepts apply to adults as well.

Stimulating the brain with play-time activities such as Lego’s or the UXNinja Blocks will ultimately let you or your co-workers develop a sharp mind overall, and a mind that can easily think “outside the box.”

This is a necessary trait of any good business, to promote innovation and advancement of the company overall!

Reducing “playtime” has almost always correlated with less creative thinking and more burnout, and allowing for more of this time in your business schedule will engage your co-workers and employees in their work more efficiently! One of the most significant ways that playing with toys enhances a business overall is that it helps you break through mental barriers.   I am sure we all understand the feeling of working on a project painfully and exhaustively, without being able to find an appropriate solution.

By taking the time to “play” you will effectively clear your mind and allow for new thoughts, which will take you through your barrier faster than you could ever have thought!

Furthermore, having your workers play with building blocks or construct something with them together will increase their social comradery, promoting a better business environment overall.

Building blocks can stimulate mental cohesiveness between your co-workers, which will help each of them feel more mentally healthy every time they come to work. This concept can also be incredibly useful when planning your training sessions as well!

If you have trouble with only thinking of one type of workout, or you are stuck in your goals, take a moment to play with some Lego’s!

This type of mental stimulation can help you find the best combination of exercises to enhance your monotonous routine, and I am sure that in the long run, you will benefit significantly from the additional mental stimulus.

Physical Health

If employees stay healthy, it reduces expenses incurred on medical bills and increases productivity.

By introducing a corporate wellness program, the employer can address all aspects needed to keep busy employees healthy.

Potential aspects include:

  • On-Site Screenings
  • Weight Loss Programs for Overweight Employees
  • Exercise or Yoga Classes
  • Smoking De-Addiction Workshops
  • Stress Reduction Classes
  • Vaccinations
  • Reimbursement for Independent Gym Memberships

Workplace Massage Therapy – An Example of Workplace Wellness for Physical Health

top benefits of workplace massage therapy

Getting consistent massage therapy is one of the healthiest ways that you can treat your body and deal with the stress of daily life. Massages are traditionally used in many cultures to treat diseases and fatigue throughout the body. Certain massages are more centered around relieving tension from muscles and joints, while other massages can be focused on removing sickness or illness. For example, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine,

“Massage therapy may be effective for treatment of chronic back pain, with benefits lasting at least 6 months.”

Along with the physical benefits of workplace massage therapy, of the greatest benefits of massage therapy is that it reduces anxiety and stress levels. Anxiety or stress can result in scattered thoughts and minds, which is not good for any business. You can help your employees relieve these issue by instituting workplace therapy  massages!

If you are a business owner, instituting a way for your employees to take advantage of massages consistently can greatly increase the productivity of your employees and build a better working environment!

Although many people do not have the time or funds to consistently go for full-body massages, monthly workplace massage therapy can be affordable for companies and it can significantly help improve your employees overall wellness!

Self massage treatment with researched tools such as the TheraGun can be very useful, but having a professional massage is even more effective!

If you believe scheduling workplace massage therapy is too expensive for your company, another option is to get a work/home massage chair. You could have one massage chair for your workplace which employees could use throughout the day at different times.

Regardless of how you implement workplace massage therapy into your workplace wellness program, doing so would be a great addition that your employees will surely love!


It is incumbent on the employer to provide healthy food to its employees in its company canteens.

The food should be highly nutritious and stimulate productivity.

In no way should it include unhealthy items that contribute towards obesity and other unhealthy consequences.

How to Make Your Workplace Wellness Program a Success

It is up to the employers to not only introduce a corporate wellness program in their organization but also to ensure that the employees fully use it.

For this, the program needs to be attractive enough to excite them.

Workplace wellness programs take a cue from behavioral economics combined with psychology to gauge what will work for them regarding making the program attractive.

For this reason, these programs usually contain a mix of traditional programs coupled with emerging methods. It has been observed that such steps serve to increase employee participation.

What is more important in making such programs attractive is how it is packaged.

In a study, two types of messages were framed to announce the implementation of a workplace wellness program.

One said, “Get Game! Have Fun”, while the other simply stated, “Regular physical activity is important for good health.”

The first message got more responses since this positive framing excited the employees, who looked forward to participating in it. The other message was not well received since it conveyed a burdensome duty that needed to be accomplished.

The lessons drawn from the scenarios above are clear. The workplace wellness programs need to be packaged right, and more importantly, conveyed positively.

Corporate health programs should give a feeling of personal achievement to employees, along with an opportunity for social interaction and fun.

Even the content of these programs should contain games, instant gratification through rewards, and other enjoyable moments.

Another important aspect of the corporate wellness program is providing health literacy to the employees. Providing education on living a healthy lifestyle helps them to make informed decisions based on their understanding of health information.

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 90 percent of employees lack health literacy.

Concluding Thoughts – Benefits of a Corporate Wellness Program

Wellness programs work when their implementation turns the employees into a healthier and happier workforce.

It not only increases a company’s productivity but also lowers the risk of:

  • Lifestyle-Related Diseases
  • Stress-Related Burnouts
  • Absenteeism
  • Employee Turnover

However, the success of such programs depends upon its publicity and implementation.


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