Modern Workplace Wellness
The old formula for corporate success included working long, excruciating hours, invoking strict deadlines, and placing sky-high demands on employees while paying them the lowest fair wage. Benefits were included in that deal, but years ago health care was more affordable for the employer and seemed to go farther for the employee. The antidote to stress was a cigarette and drinks after work.
But obviously, the workplace today is a much different place. Employees of today actually work more than their counterparts from previous generations, and are still striving for a healthy work-life balance. The result of this imbalance is an increased incidence of stress-related illnesses, which translates to higher costs of health insurance for employers.
In fact, “76% of all visits to a physician involve the treatment of chronic illnesses,” says Patrick Massey MD, Ph.D. The Daily Herald; and 75% of chronic illnesses could be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes.
Put another way, over 50% of corporate healthcare costs are lifestyle-related, which means they’re absolutely preventable.
The specific lifestyle choices I’m referring to include diet, exercise, addictive habits, and stress. One reason these changes aren’t being made is because the workplace, where a lot of people spend most of their time, fails to make it easy and accessible.
An international report by the World Health Organization reveals that "long hours, multi-tasking, stiff competition, rigorous commutes, irregular eating habits, sedentary desk jobs and bad sitting postures, all combine to create a pool of a highly stressed, inefficient and thus despairing workforce." - Anurag Lohia, Corporate Wellness Magazine Corporation
So it’s no wonder that healthcare costs are up! Jobs are stressful, and employees are taking that stress home, eating the wrong foods, and skipping the exercise. In fact, “Aetna determined that workers in its most stress-prone positions were racking up medical bills that exceeded those of other employees by an average of $2,000 a year.” - Peter S. Goodman, The Huffington Post
So if you could reduce stress in the workplace, you could dramatically reduce your healthcare costs. But how can you reduce stress in your corporation? The job is the job, after all. The deadlines have to be tight, the work is challenging, and the high pressure situations aren’t going to disappear. In other words, the stressors are here to stay.
Luckily, the stressors can stay. Much of stress is actually our own perception and response to stress. This is where yoga comes in.
Practicing yoga helps individuals cope with stress naturally. It’s a practice that fosters and instills mindfulness, which translates into a calm and accepting outlook, even off the yoga mat. It prepares employees so that when those workplace stressors do occur, they are met with a calm, peaceful mind rather than a frantic, stressed one.
There is a growing body of research suggesting that offering yoga in a corporate environment is a low cost means of achieving a more productive, healthy and efficient workforce. Yoga has more benefits than helping to reduce stress. It enhances overall emotional health, improves strength, flexibility and balance, and can greatly improve posture, so all of that hunching at your desk can be counteracted.
But a consistent yoga practice goes deeper than just helping the physical body. Yoga can enhance creativity, heighten focus, and increase energy all while decreasing stress. This means more engaged and productive employees who are better at their jobs, more cooperative, more alert, less reactive, and more positive.
For corporations, this translates into less petty arguments on team projects, less power feuds, less dissatisfied employees and invasive office politics. When employees are more engaged and collaborative, they become generally happier and more satisfied with their jobs. They are more motivated to do better work and not disenchanted, searching for greener pastures. This means that employee turnover goes down.
So not only does investing in a corporate yoga program mean savings in healthcare down the road, but it also increases employee retention and leads to big savings in your HR department. In addition, you’re investing in building a company culture that is attractive to top talent, meaning that all areas of your business can only get better. Employees who are plugged in, productive and able to concentrate are all good for the bottom line. Not to mention, calm, balanced, healthy people are simply easier and more pleasant to work with.
And this data isn’t just speculative. It’s being proven at companies who have implemented and tracked the results of their wellness programs. “Johnson & Johnson found that the return on their wellness programs have been $2.71 for every dollar spent, resulting in cumulative savings of $250 million on health care costs for the company over the past decade." - Anurag Lohia, Corporate Wellness Magazine Corporation
You might be wondering how much of a hassle it is to go about starting a corporate yoga offering at your company. The truth is, it’s much easier than you might think. A corporate yoga program involves no resources, and the instructor comes to you. All that’s required is a large open space, which can easily be a conference or break room with furniture pushed to the side. Any necessary props are provided by the instructor and mats are supplied by the participants.
Another great feature is that anyone can participate in a yoga series. It’s not restricted to a specific gender, age, or athletic ability, and it can have benefits for both beginners and those who are currently practicing yoga. There are no prerequisites to take a class, meaning if someone wanted to jump in weeks after the first session, it’s perfectly acceptable.
Ultimately, it’s an effective, affordable and preventative approach to enhancing your corporate culture, saving money and supporting your employees. The effects are beneficial all around and literally spill out into all areas of the business. It’s a simple investment to make, and it saves everyone, in one way or another.
Interested in exploring a corporate yoga program? Request a class here.
Big thanks to Nero-Ink for this piece! Check out her marketing and writing services here!