Corporate wellness programs including those that offer healthy vending machine options can have a positive impact on both an employee’s health and on the company’s productivity, but only if the wellness program is implemented carefully.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, UCLA, and Washington University in St. Louis found that wellness program participation “improved average worker productivity by over 4 percent” which is roughly equivalent “to adding one additional day of productive work per month for each employee” (Gubler, Larkin, & Pierce,2017, p. 2). Taken one step further, researchers determined that by using diet and exercise, sick and healthy employees increased their productivity by 10 percent.
There are, however, several important caveats to consider.
- Participation must be voluntary. Researchers found that when participation was required or strongly suggested through social or financial pressure, the participants reacted negatively. Participants perceived the company to be overstepping its bounds and interfering in their health and lifestyle choices.
- Participants must believe in the program’s merits and safety. Highlighting the differences between the reality of the program versus its perceptions will help employees trust that their health data will remain private and will not be used for employment-related purposes.
- Long-term productivity gains are unlikely to be sustainable through single or short-term interventions. Employers must consider multiple or long-term wellness support for employees if increased productivity is to be sustainable.
Wellness programs or interventions can occur in many different forms from fitness activities to healthy food choices in the office break room vending machine. The best choices for your specific organization will likely vary from the organization next door. Ask your New York City employees for their opinions and preferences. To start the conversation, consider a few of the following options.
- encourage public transportation, walking or biking—arrange for bike racks and provide “bike to work” promotional materials
- encourage stairwell use by strategically placing posters with information about the physical benefits of using stairs
- offer corporate discounts for health club memberships or offer an on-site fitness facility
- coordinate and market running and walking groups and other monthly and weekly fitness challenges
- Turn sit-down meetings into walking meetings
- bring in items that will encourage folks to take a break and rejuvenate such as scooters, game rooms, footballs, and hula hoops
- incorporate plants and other greenery around the office
- offer a quiet spot to take a nap
- offer healthy snack and beverage vending machine choices in the office break room— don’t forget to include non-dairy milk options for those who are vegan or are dairy intolerant
- offer free or reduced cost refreshments for employees—it’s a great morale booster
- throw a monthly healthy potluck
- coordinate with a community supported agriculture (CSA) for local fruit and vegetable deliveries to the office and/or find local farmers markets
Whether you are looking to offer free or subsidized snack and beverage choices or add a new vending machine to your office break room, Healthy Vending can help. We offer a wide variety of products and services that can help boost your employees’ wellness and productivity. Call us at 917.572.3671 for more information.
Gubler, T., Larkin, I., and Pierce, L. (June 28, 2017). Doing Well by Making Well: The Impact of Corporate Wellness Programs on Employee Productivity. Forthcoming, Management Science. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2811785