By Amanda Rights, OD
Oct. 17, 2018
“Wellness,” a lifelong process of making decisions, and taking action, to support a healthy, balanced lifestyle, should be a part of your life, and that of your employees. Doctors and support staff who strive for wellness have greater energy and sharpness of mind to care for patients, and work toward profitability.
According to the World Health Organization, wellness is defined as “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Although there are different views on what wellness encompasses, some of the more common dimensions are: physical, intellectual, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual and environmental.
Here are eight simple, mostly low-cost, things your practice can do to foster wellness among doctors and staff.
Offer Incentives for Completing Healthy Activities
Whether it’s going to the gym, biking to work instead of driving, or taking a walk during their lunch break, encourage your staff to be more active. Hold monthly challenges with prizes to motivate staff to participate.
Encourage Biking to Work & Install Bike Racks
If you live in an area that supports it, encourage your employees to bike to work. Not only is it a healthy alternative to commuting by car, it’s financially-savvy, and helps the environment. Install bike racks outside of your office to encourage employees and patients to bike to your office. Provide employees with information that includes the best places to purchase a bike, where they can park it and how they can securely lock their bike.
Host Workouts After Hours
After the office closes for the day, utilize an open area in your office to hold fitness classes for your staff members. Invite a yoga instructor into your office to guide the team through a yoga class.
Other types of classes to hold include Pilates, body-weight exercises, or aerobics classes that don’t require a lot of equipment. If indoor space is an issue, take it outdoors; go for a group walk or run on a nearby trail. People are often motivated to exercise when they have others around them doing the same thing. You can also partner with local walking or running clubs.
Focus on Team-Building
Plan activities that couple as team-building exercises, such as whitewater rafting, completing a ropes course, or going on a hike. These activities engage the social element with your staff to strengthen your bond, both personally and professionally. Promote local community events, such as marathons, 5Ks and other fitness competitions. Have your company sponsor the event, and go as a group to boost morale.
Compile a List of Healthy Dining Options Nearby
Healthy eating should always be part of a wellness program. Create a list of all the restaurants within a two-mile radius of your office that offer healthy food choices. You could also go a step further and list examples of healthy food choices that are available at the restaurants.
Stock Healthy Snacks
Keep your company kitchen or break room stocked with nutritious snacks like mixed nuts, dried fruit, fresh veggies, hummus and healthy drinks. Having ready-made snacks to grab-and-go will keep your employees well-nourished and happy when that afternoon slump hits. Employees will be much more likely to choose healthy foods when they are convenient and readily available. Check with local farms to see if they have community supported agriculture programs, in which you invest in their farm and they deliver fresh produce to you weekly. It’s a convenient way to get fresh, healthy food in your fridge while supporting local farmers.
Provide Reusable Water Bottles
Gift your employees reusable water bottles to encourage hydration and sustainability. Better yet, brand the bottle with your practice’s logo as a marketing strategy. That way, when your staff uses the bottle outside of your workplace, it’ll promote your focus on health and wellness, and get your name out to your community.
Offer Wellness-Oriented Benefits
If you offer health insurance benefits, a wellness program is a crucial component of that. By encouraging healthier lifestyles and preventive care, you can reduce an employee’s risk of becoming sick and requiring medical care. You can offer benefit plans that guide and incentivize individuals to develop healthier behaviors.
Offer Discounts for Gym Memberships
Consider paying for, or offering discounts toward, initiation fees and monthly memberships to a local gym or fitness facility to your full-time staff members. This goes above and beyond a typical benefits package, but it’s a huge incentive to your staff. Why? It creates a health-conscious mindset that puts a priority on exercise, while simultaneously eliminating the financial burden of a fitness membership. Reach out to local gyms in the area and ask for a discounted group rate.
Offer Mental Health Benefits
Provide assistance or coverage for therapy or counseling services. Offer “mental health days,” or birthday vacation days (or an alternate day if it falls on a weekend).
By making it easier for you and your staff to practice wellness, not only do you improve your own lives; you make it more likely that you will be fit to give patients the best possible care.
Does your practice try to encourage doctors and staff to lead healthy lifestyles, so that wellness is promoted? What’s the best way to practice wellness as you spend long, hard-working days providing patient care?