Many successful companies have a lot in common, such as high-quality products and services, excellent leadership and management, consistently high revenues, loyal customers, and a strong brand image. These Fortune 500 companies and topnotch businesses also invest in the wellness of their employees.
Is it not enough to pay high salaries, offer career growth, and provide incentives for excellent performance on the job? All these are important but, as these companies have found out, helping employees become more physically fit led to breakthroughs in individual and team performance. This leveling up in work productivity, in turn, produced good revenues that improved the company’s bottom line.
In some cases, selected personnel were even sponsored to undergo a training program for health coaches. After finishing the program, they were asked to cascade or share the lessons they learned about fitness, nutrition, mentoring strategies, and other wellness activities with fellow employees.
Kaizen: Constant Improvement
Promoting employee fitness is not exactly new. In Japan, doing exercises before the start of the workday is standard for most companies. This practice is rooted in the philosophy of Kaizen, a Japanese term that means ‘constant improvement’. In the aftermath of World War II, Japanese business managers had to find a way to improve production that would ultimately help to rebuild their war-torn country.
The managers had the idea of improving the workers’ physical strength and mental health through exercise. They developed body movements that simulated actual physical motions needed for the performance of tasks; these include lifting and bending moves, stretching, push-and-pull movements, and footwork.
Later on, the Japanese managers found that their employees became more productive and happier; work-related accidents decreased, and there were fewer absences due to illness. Soon, other companies started to implement similar fitness routines. Called RaijoTaisou or radio physical exercises, voice recordings were broadcast over loudspeakers to guide employees in the various movements or habits. To this day, this is done across Japan every morning of the workweek. The practice is also prevalent in China, Korea, and Taiwan.
Total Health and Wellness Benefits
A Harvard study even concluded that physical fitness programs helped employees to have “enhanced creativity, quicker learning, a sharper memory, and improved concentration.” The activities also boosted the employees’ self-esteem as they saw improvements in their physique. They reported having feelings of being happy, in no small measure, due to the social interactions with colleagues that were also part of corporate fitness programs.
Top Companies with Employee Health Programs
Given the scientific findings that correlated overall wellness to employees’ productivity, it is not surprising that major corporations have invested in these kinds of training.
Google headquarters is famous for having doctors, chiropractic, and physical therapists as part of their staff. Inside their iconic campus, employees can ride bicycles, join cooking classes, and even study how to play the guitar. For those who want to break a sweat, they have Ping-Pong tables ready for use anytime. Staff with back pain can even request for standing desks that would enable them to stretch while reducing pressure on their lumbar areas.
At the software giant Intuit’s main office, they offer meditation and mindfulness sessions for staff as part of their stress-reduction strategy.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft has Zumba sessions, weight management coaching, and activities that help smokers quit their unhealthy habit. Employees also enjoy their very own basketball and volleyball court, as well as a full-sized baseball field.
Other companies have also experimented with special sessions that deal with substance abuse, insomnia, and other positive interventions that aim to restore the health of employees. Several enterprises have allocated rooms so that executives and rank-and-file can take naps during their break.
Impact on the Bottom Line
These investments were made by companies not merely to make their workers feel good, although that is very much part of the overall goal. These interventions have been shown to improve a company’s bottom line.
In a Harvard Business School study, it was revealed that “employee absenteeism fell by $2.73 for every dollar invested in worker wellness.” Numerous case studies show how these activities also improved employee retention, meaning more and more employees chose to stay at a company for a more extended period.
By prioritizing employee wellness, these successful firms were able to enhance the physical, mental, emotional, and social conditions of their respective workforce.
Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson said it well, thus: “Clients do not come first. Employees must come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.”