Benefits and Compensation

Taking the Soft Approach to Corporate Wellness

by Kerry Anne Carter, vice president of Sales, and Carl Bergauer, field sales director, Staples Business Advantage

It’s in a company’s best interest to ensure their workers are happy and healthy, so they can be more productive and positively impact the bottom line. However, simply putting a wellness program in place isn’t always the answer.

Corporate wellness programs generally start with good intentions, but if they force people to participate, they can actually increase the stress that they’re trying to alleviate. Businesses often preach wellness with structured programs and material perks, yet they’re really adding one more job requirement instead of delivering a needed break from the pressures of work.

Taking a softer approach to wellness—instilling work/life balance, ergonomic solutions and encouraging lunch breaks in welcoming breakrooms—can often be more powerful than mandated programs.

Time for a Break

Fifty-three percent of employees in the U.S. eat lunch at their desk and 41% feel burned out, according to the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index. Additionally, nearly 50% feel they can’t get up for a break. Taking regular breaks is key for employees’ health and well-being, and employers should encourage people take time to relax and recharge. It’s also critical for managers to model good behavior and take breaks themselves. 

Staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time can be detrimental to the human eye, according to the American Optometric Association. Organizations can encourage workers to take breaks away from their desks by offering a welcoming breakroom stocked with snacks and beverages.

Sixty-five percent of employees feel it’s important for their company to offer healthy snacks and fresh foods, yet only 45% report their company does this. What’s more, respondents said that encouraging them to take breaks (54%) and improving the breakroom (24%) are ways employers can help them avoid burnout.  

Improvements to the Desk

In addition to focusing on the breakroom, employers should consider the state of office furniture. Seventy percent of employees report they work more than 40 hours a week, and 66% say their desk in the office is the most productive place to get work done.

With people spending so much time in the office, and U.S. healthcare costs continuing to rise, it becomes even more important for employers to take health and wellness considerations into account into the design and organization of their office.

To avoid the common ailments that affect workers who are at their desks for many hours a day, designers are creating more ergonomic options that will prevent short- and long-term harm or injury. As a result, sitting/standing desks are gaining popularity, as they promote comfort, good posture, and productivity.

Flexible Work

The biggest contributors to burnout are workload (67%) and time pressures (53%). To combat this, 65%  of workers would like their employers to provide a more flexible schedule and allow them to work when, and where, they choose.

Encouraging people to integrate their work and life and take the time they need for a doctor’s appointment or child’s soccer game is key. Thirty-five percent say having this flexibility contributes to their loyalty. Employers should be sure to enable workers with the technology they need to work away from the office.

Business leaders can make a difference by implementing these three concepts and creating work environments characterized by day-to-day support and empathy. Weaving wellness—mental and emotional, not just physical—into the fabric of the workplace breeds employee trust and retention.

Kerry Anne Carter is vice president of sales and breakroom strategy at Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. Her responsibilities include fostering relationships to showcase the assortment of breakroom offerings provided by Staples Business Advantage – including healthy food and beverages, office furniture, appliances, technology and cleaning solutions.

Carl Bergauer, field sales director, furniture, at Staples Business Advantage, has over 30 years of extensive experience in sales, marketing and operations management. After serving on the board of directors for the Office Furniture Dealer Alliance (OFDA) he was selected to serve as Chairman of the Board and later as Chairman for the parent association, Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers Association (IOPFDA). One of the founders and former Presiding Chair of MetroCon, he helped create a sustainable industry event with a focus on continuing education and financial support for regional design associations. Bergauer has been invited to share his insight and guidance through speaking engagements to numerous organizations including BIFMA and the OFDA Dealer Strategy Conference.