It is hard to gather with a group of people these days without many of them starting to compare their exercise trackers, be they Apple watches or Fitbits or some other tracking device. They even have a tendency to be a bit snooty about what theirs does or does not do. You would think that with this trend employee wellness would not be a big issue. Unfortunately it is.
According to an article in FMWorld, Herpreet Grewal writes that there is still a huge cost associated with both physical and psychological wellbeing. Reporting on research presented at Workplace Trends: Environments for Wellness and Health by researchers Fiona Adshead and Phillip Tidd, Grewal says that the cost of stress in the U.S. is $300 billion. There is £70 million for lost working days in the UK. As Tidd says “Companies cannot afford to ignore wellbeing in the workplace.”
Companies have tried to approach physical wellbeing with health fairs, issuing pedometers and utilizing applications like Utilifit to try to make employees more active. Some companies even provide standing desks or treadmill desks to make people more active.
That may not address the psychological well being of employees however. Stress caused by increasing pressures and distractions has increased the amount of sickness that is causing companies money. Much of this stress can be attributed to the culture or fabric of the company. Some companies have been resistant to the changes necessary to reduce stress.
Changing Nature of Work
As I read this material a couple of thoughts came to mind. First, will the changing nature of work, where more telecommuting or even complete telework remedy the problems with stress? Avoiding a long commute can certainly improve your day, but the demands or producing work in a solo environment can itself produce stress. Having worked in both environments I can tell you that I would prefer to not commute to an office, but there are stresses associated with always having your work sitting beside you on the couch or down the hall in an office. It becomes more difficult to walk away from work.
The second point was, if wellness is a concern for you, how do you insure your teleworkers are maintaining or participating in wellness? You can sit on your rear end as much at home as you can in your office, in fact possibly more. In the office you know they have to have a certain amount of activity, in fact you can insure by the nature of the work. The employer loses that control with workers who are not onsite.
Employers have to find the balance for their workforce that reduces stress and improves wellbeing. They are highly correlated with each other and are highly correlated with increased productivity and success.