By Karley Middleton

You hear a lot about workplace wellness programs, most typically in workplaces that aren’t in Canada. After all, the thinking goes, when the health care system is publicly funded, how do you make typical incentives like lower health insurance premiums drive participation?

Whether your organization has a formal or an informal program, it’s in your best interests to encourage everyone to dedicate appropriate time and effort to caring for themselves. Incremental behavioural changes, whether practiced at home or on the job, can produce significant improvement in your employees’ physical and mental health. That’s how you get people who thrive and ensure your company does, too.

Here are three areas you can encourage them to focus on:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body practice that involves developing a positive awareness in the present moment. People who are depressed often say they’re incredibly aware of what’s going on around them, but they tend to only focus on problems and negative forces affecting their lives. Encourage employees to acknowledge and focus instead on positive influences on their situations, as well as to try to find balance. Mindfulness practices will benefit anyone, and can be achieved with techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga – all the types of programs employers can launch with no concern about missing the mark.
  • Sufficient sleep: People who truly believe they don’t need at least seven hours of quality sleep per night in order to perform at their best are kidding themselves. And it’s hard to hide the affect on performance of poorly rested brains and bodies. You may not be ready to bless power naps at work (although one study showed they can reverse the negative effects of one night of poor sleep), but you can support better sleep habits. Policies that restrict office work to office hours are helpful. You also can provide a list of apps that monitor sleep hours and sleep quality, perhaps launching a competition for best results over time.
  • Movement: Movement helps the brain and body flourish, as physical exertion reduces stress and can combat the body’s chemical reactions to depression. Done throughout the day, it improves circulation and muscle responses. If people can’t dedicate additional time to movement, they can try incorporating it in their daily tasks to avoid straining their work-life balance. Employers can easily encourage their people to move more in the workplace through group or individual challenges, offering incentives and recognition programs.

However your organization goes about encouraging your workers to pursue healthier lifestyle choices and offering formal and informal incentives to that end, know that this is true. Everyone wins in the end, so that makes it worth doing.

HUB International’s team of brokers has extensive experience designing the full range of employee benefit programs.