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In the past decade, modern workplaces´ innovative fitness and wellness programs highlighted as supereffective tools that almost automatically make office staff healthier, more productive, help reduce sick days, reduce health care costs, etc.
However, a recent Harvard study suggests that several of these health and fitness promotion initiatives around the global workplaces, as a matter of fact, are signalling irrelevant short-term results.
The analysis of corporate wellness programs - the very first of its kind - shows that the employees of the test group working in companies with wellness programs exhibited a higher commitment to healthier behaviour, but no significant measurable, behavioural changes or differences compared to those of the control group.
After 18 months, these employees weren´t able to show better health outcomes concerning BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol, nor did they distinguish themselves by any lower sickness absence, higher job performance or lower use of health care.
"We wanted to focus on the results of corporate wellness programs to help employers and politicians make informed decisions when considering investing in employee wellness.
According to our conclusions, corporate wellness programs are capable of affecting employees' health awareness, but at the same time, our study lowers potential expectations of achieving a higher return on investment (ROI) in short terms," Harvard research spokesman Zirui Song reports.
According to the recent Harvard study, many of the workplaces´ health and fitness
promotion initiatives show only negligible results in the short run.
Another current study conducted by the HR advisory and research firm Future Workplace involving 1,600 representative employees of US companies shows that employees, first of all, demand basic conditions such as fresh air, access to natural light, and the opportunity to set up their workstations to be present at their workplace.
Half of the respondents stated that poor air quality makes them tired. A third of them reported up to an hour of lost productivity in that account. Air quality and work light have the most substantial impact on employee well-being and efficiency - fitness facilities and technology-based health tools the weakest.
This study concludes that employees' expectations of wellbeing are often very diverse and that employers should therefore favourably weight their wellness offerings to employees in accordance with their individual wishes and needs.
Setting up fancy fitness studios on the company´s basement floor can be a hopelessly skewed priority and investment if, first and foremost, is better ventilation or updated lighting conditions that the company employees and their daily well-being demand.
A survey of 1,600 office workers shows that air and light occupy them more than
tech-based health tools. Source: Future Workspace
The rule of thumb must be used to investigate employees' innermost desires and needs for future amenities and perks before purchasing treadmills, exercise bikes, and the market's latest wellness programs for your company's office environment.
"In the long run, workplace investment in wellness initiatives should probably play important roles for better company health and lower health care costs. But right now we should reconcile our expectations of quick results, as our study points out," Zirui Song emphasizes.
Havard Gazette: Weighing in on workplace wellness programs
Hbr.org: What Employees Want Most from Their Workspaces
Glassdoor.com: 13 Companies with Cool Wellness Perks
Justworks.com: 17 Excellent Workplace Wellness Ideas That Don't Break the Bank