Written by Erika Marcoux
Published in the Texas CEO Magazine
Healthy employees are essential to the continued growth and productivity of any company. Employee wellness programs can potentially save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care costs. Most illness is stress related and directly preventable. The workplace is ideal for promoting healthy habits of employees that can transform corporate culture and improve lives.
With millions of American workers showing signs of stress and suffering from chronic diseases, health care costs are of significant concern. Companies around the country offer employee wellness programs that provide training and incentives for workers who adopt a healthy lifestyle.
2 Ways Stress Depletes Production
Chronic stress weakens the immune system and leads to illness. Three in five (61%) employees say that workplace stress has caused them actual physical illness, insomnia, and depression according to a survey of nearly 7,000 American workers conducted by Monster.com. Nearly half of these employees say they have missed time at work due to work-related stress.
Work and money continue to be the most frequently cited causes of stress according to the American Psychological Association. In addition, the majority of workers show signs of stress and more than one-third report harmful effects to their physical and emotional well-being according to the Stress Institute of America.
The Solution is in the Problem
Referring to these statistics, it’s safe to say that work is the primary contributor to stress, and stress costs a company’s bottom line. How about finding a simple solution within the problem? Addressing employee stress at the root cause eliminates the sprouting and spreading of weeds throughout the company. “The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations,” according to Occam’s Razor.
Since most illness is stress related and directly preventable, why aren’t all companies investing in employee well-being? It’s imperative to clean up the toxicity in the workplace and build a strong and engaged workforce in order to make lasting progress.
Successful Companies have Healthy Employees
Towers Watson conducted a study on the ROI on companies with the most effective health and wellness programs and reports a financial advantage. The revenue per employee is 11% higher, there are 1.8 fewer days absent per employee per year, and 28% higher shareholder returns.
Meditation Decreases Stress
The most powerful skill an employee can utilize to decrease stress is practicing mindfulness meditation. Harvard University neuroscientist Sara Lazar reports that by practicing meditation daily, the part of the brain that registers stress and anxiety, the amygdala, becomes smaller. The change in the amygdala correlates to a reduction in stress levels.
An area of the brain that literally grows is the hippocampus located inside the temple on each side of the brain. The hippocampus is covered in receptors for the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation increases the gray matter in this region of the brain that builds resilience to stress. Regulating your response to stress is imperative to experiencing mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical health.
Mindfulness Training Increases Profit
Mindfulness training is a provable wellness incentive for executive leadership and employees that facilitates a smarter and more productive workplace. An investment in developing a mindful corporate culture dramatically impacts employee retention by adopting healthy habits. A company can unlock lost productivity and develop the skills of its employees.
Companies view the investment in health and wellness programs no differently than investments in learning and development training. It makes good business sense to attract and retain healthy employees that are the key source of sustained and economic value.