fitness engagement workplace wellness

New Research Shows Need to Engage Employees in Workplace Wellness

How significant is the connection between workplace wellness and the drive to help employees stay active — thereby helping them stay healthier, while also helping reduce businesses’ health care costs?

As Jason Kelly, Bloomberg’s New York Bureau Chief and author of “Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body” told us in a podcast last year: “An entire economy… in apparel, gear, and entry fees” has formed around people’s “pursuit of wellness.”

But new UK research indicates that many employees may not sense sufficient encouragement from their workplaces, which in turn may reduce their inclination to stay fit.

Workplace Insight reports: “The majority of UK employees (61 percent) do not feel encouraged by their employer to lead an active lifestyle, despite most managers agreeing that exercise positively impacts employees’ productivity (78 percent) and their ability to handle stress (82 percent) claims new research from AXA PPP healthcare.”

Further: “Sixty-two percent of employees with good intentions to exercise at work find they’re cancelling their lunchtime exercise plans due to workload or work commitments.”

One solution may be for businesses to be more mindful about their engagement activities.

Indeed, as we reported previously, an estimated $2.2 trillion dollars is spent each year on chronic illnesses, employee disengagement, stress and work-related injuries, according to the Healthcare Trends Institute. To subsidize workdays missed, US employers spend $153 billion. Perhaps, it’s quite clear then, why workplace wellness strategies and the incentives used to increase employee engagement in such programs are top of mind for US employers.

If designing and kicking off a workplace wellness program is the one half of the battle, the other half is ensuring employees participate – and key to seeing returns on the company’s investment in workplace wellness.

Human psychology can help. B.F. Skinner’s positive reinforcement theory concluded that when good behavior is followed by positive reinforcement, such as a reward, that good human behavior is reinforced and highly likely to repeat in the future. One way to reinforce engagement in the workplace wellness program is through financial rewards.

As the Workplace Insight post states: “According to AXA PPP healthcare, whether it’s organising exercise classes at lunchtime, providing subsidised gym access or simply encouraging a more active commute, employers should do their best to promote and support employees to be active during the working day.”