A healthy bottom line is a goal most companies strive for, but also one that is particularly challenging to attain and maintain. As it turns out, the place to begin isn’t with a spread sheet, but with a holistic approach to the overall health of your company.
Finding your company’s winning formula is dependent on these key ingredients: creating a thriving, vibrant workplace and encouraging and supporting employee wellness.
The first step is caring for the heart of the organization -- your employees. At Nautilus, Inc., our focus on wellness programs has yielded higher-than-average participation rates, stable medical premiums three years running and a reduction in high-risk health conditions.
I’ve also learned that nothing leads to crumbling profits faster than a toxic work environment, which is why, at Nautilus, we put a premium on fostering a healthy corporate culture. Improving the quality of life for our employees leads to higher engagement, increased productivity, job satisfaction, enhanced creativity and ultimately, has a positive effect on our fiscal health.
I’ve tried and tested many strategies throughout my career and have found several to be particularly effective. By implementing the following programs and initiatives, you can set your company on the path to health and prosperity.
1. Prioritize wellness programs.
Give employees access to a range of services and information to support their physical and mental health. This helps ensure that employees are less likely to miss work for health-related issues and are actively involved in their own wellbeing, thereby improving productivity for the entire team. We host “Wellness Wednesdays,” where experts provide information and tips on topics such as financial health, air quality and stress management. Our annual wellness fair is open to employees’ families, and includes on-site free biometric screenings for all employees, spouses and domestic partners.
Offering an incentive that translates into savings for an employee’s healthcare outlay is a powerful tool and can help get your employees on board. All of our employees receive a “Road to Wellness Passport,” with a calendar to help them track wellness stamps, and if they fill the passport, they earn a $150 credit towards the next year’s medical premium. Other ways to promote wellness on-site include offering a bike-share program, flu shot clinics or even simply stocking break rooms with healthy, nutritious snacks and beverages.
2. Create a human-friendly work space.
Facilitate productivity through a comfortable and accommodating work environment. This can be as basic as offering your employees stand-up desks, balance boards and exercise balls in place of chairs. We also provide our customer service and support teams with mobile headsets, and encourage them to get out of their chairs to walk around and stretch their legs throughout the day.
Finding creative ways for your employees to “get active and move more while at work,” is also one of the priorities outlined in the recently released U.S. Physical Activity Plan -- that seeks to “foster a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles … integrating physical activity into how Americans live, work and play.”
3. Design a collaborative work environment.
Keep your workspaces more open to promote opportunities for employee interaction and connection. We literally took the walls down and created more open areas and group work spaces to foster stronger communication across all departments and inspire more collaborative efforts -- leading to more innovation. Find ways of bringing your workforce together versus keeping them apart.
4. Promote healthy communication.
Check in regularly on the effectiveness of your wellness programs and the workplace vibes by soliciting feedback from your employees. For example, an annual engagement survey provides the opportunity to capture actionable information, but also tells your staff that you value their input and care about their well-being. This allows you to make adjustments based on what your employees are requesting, as well as where you are most likely to see success. We enjoy a 90 percent participation rate in our survey and make it a point to share the highs and lows via a company-wide email with call-outs to items we have addressed and plans in the works to improve other areas.
5. Stay in shape.
Make fitness opportunities available and add a dash of motivation to get your employees moving. A great place to start is with health and fitness challenges that have broad appeal. Boost participation by including drawings for gift cards or other rewards for those reaching a specific goal. For example, our Hold the Gravy weight-loss challenge has been a year-over-year success. Even though Nautilus is in the fitness business, there’s no pressure to be fit or to work out. We actually find that our be-active culture is infectious though, and with encouragement at the core, we make it a point to celebrate progress as much as success.
We are fortunate to have on-site gyms and the ability to host workout classes at our two main offices. At Nautilus headquarters, the gym is open to spouses and domestic partners, not just employees, as our company focuses on the wellness of the entire family. Consider keeping your company fit by hosting an employee softball or basketball league, or sponsoring fitness events throughout the year, making sure they span all fitness levels and a variety of activities, including walking, running and biking.
6. Celebrate successes and milestones.
Make these highlights front and center to build camaraderie and strengthen the connection within work groups as well as across office locations. We use electronic communication boards in our main buildings to keep people apprised of everything from work anniversaries and team accomplishments to fundraising success and product design awards. There are many ways to help unify your entire workforce -- which can be an ever-increasing challenge as many companies are global or have remote employees.
7. Encourage work-life balance.
Help your people stay refreshed and provide a buffer from today’s 24/7 connected world. One solution is to offer flexible hours, which gives employees more freedom to blend their home and work lives, as needed. We’ve extended this to our employees so they can exercise at their preferred time of day, attend their children’s school or sporting events, or doctor appointments.
Some companies discourage after-hours email -- others allow employees to work from home on certain days. The idea is that you can customize your protocol based on what best fits the operational needs of your organization.
8. Cultivate community outreach.
Plenty of research shows that most of us thrive when our lives and work are purpose-driven. Make it a priority to foster the spirit of giving back by supporting your community, and encouraging employee participation. Our Nautilus Cares program offers our employees opportunities to support and connect with those in need -- through involvement with organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, PAL student mentoring and Shop with a Cop. This helps feed the soul and, in turn, keeps our company from becoming too inwardly focused.
Keep in mind that the path to a healthy company doesn’t necessitate offering grandiose perks or putting in place high-cost programs. Rather, begin with a few small initiatives and build from there. In addition, be vigilant about monitoring your corporate culture. Don’t forget to take time to ask your employees what’s important to them in a work environment. Then you can fine-tune quickly and effectively, as needed, to keep your employees thriving.
What you’ll find is that not only are employees healthier (more productive and happier), but your company can then reinvest in employee programs and benefits -- in essence, a positive domino effect.
No matter what size business you lead, there are many ways to kick-start your company’s wellness regimen. If you take a holistic approach to the health of your employees and workplace -- long-term financial fitness will follow.