Three things any human resources department can do to drastically improve employee health, happiness, and productivity

Curbing the astronomical costs of workers compensation costs has proven to be an incredibly challenging task. It is estimated that works compensation costs have reached nearly $250 Billion, that’s Billion, with a B! That means that workplace illness and injury costs has exceeded that of cancer, diabetes, and strokes. While these are staggering numbers there are multiple factors that go into health, illness, and the associated costs. One factor that is often discussed is work place ergonomics. Ergonomics is actually the study of people’s efficiency in their work place, but is often talked about regarding sitting positions, desk height, etc. Following along those same lines, I think there are three effective ways that work place health can be improved and efficiency increased.

Annual individualized movement assessments

We are all familiar with going to the doctor’s office for a physical. Typically this involves checking body weight, blood pressure, heart rate, listening to you breath, and a conversation about lifestyle choices that may be impacting your health. All of these are helpful metrics for placing you into a category of “health.” But shouldn’t we also regularly check our ability to move and the quality in which we engage in our environment? Many of the injuries I see in the clinic are related to issues with movement, either too much or not enough, and the loads that the body is experiencing. We shouldn’t just focus on the ability for you to move well but the capacity to continue to move well throughout the day, week, month as various levels of stress and fatigue set in. To best identify how well your body is prepared to meet the demands of life and your job it is helpful to have a movement assessment performed.

Individualized exercise, daily stretching/movement in the work place

We’ve all seen the charts that highlight stretching routines for office workers or low back stretching for manual labor workers. While the charts often have good content to them, they are produced in the thousands and have no specificity to them. The individual worker needs an individualized work station program. This would be based up their assessment, their physical capacity, and the individual demands of the work environment. Not all office jobs are the same nor are all physical labor jobs the same. Plus people move differently for a variety of reasons so I wouldn’t want to generalize an exercise routine for a group of people that do similar tasks.

Allocate time for exercise

Whoa, wait, pay people to exercise? Yup! I’m not suggesting 2 hours a day for a paid exercise break, but providing individuals with the opportunity to work on their individualized programs is a perfect way to ensure they have the time to do it. For most people they will want to, and likely need to, spend more time out of work addressing their individual health and wellness goals, but an opportunity each day to break, move, and improve their general wellness is an excellent way keep a workforce happy, healthy, and productive.

I know there are quite a few organizations that provide great opportunities for the employees in an effort to promote a strong health and wellness work culture. What I’ve outlined are just a few different variables that can continue to promote a health work force.  It is also important to remember that an individual plan is a great opportunity to empower people to be proactive in their approach to health and wellness. Where most people can feel overwhelmed and often lost, simple steps can be implemented to help give everyone the tools they need to succeed.

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