Okay, you’ve got the best single-origin, Guatemalan Arabica on offer in the staff canteen, so you’re really taking care of your employees, right? Or maybe you have slides and pinball machines in the break out areas so staff can amuse themselves in between emails? These days, companies have to work a lot harder at employee health and happiness than bean bags and heritage beans in a break out room.
Companies are realizing that they need to make big leaps when it comes to employee wellbeing. Why? Because we spend about a third of our lives at work, and changing habits in the office can have a huge impact on our health outside office hours.
Then there’s the happiness factor to consider. In an ongoing trend, employees are looking beyond the paycheck for job satisfaction. And they have every right to. A 2014 study at the University of Warwick found that happiness also happens to be good for business, boosting productivity by 12%.
So how to achieve that highly sought-after balance between mental and physical wellbeing while maintaining productivity? First, the topic of wellbeing needs to be made a priority in the workplace.
And the Healthy & Happy program is one such way Philips is doing exactly that. This pilot project has local ‘chapters’ across the worldwide Philips organization, and embodies the company values of health and wellbeing.
As a leading innovator in health technology, wellbeing is at the heart of what Philips does. It’s also why Philips is just as dedicated to improving the lives of its employees as it is to improving billions of lives around the world through our products and services.
The Healthy & Happy program launched in January last year, with a series of free workshops every month, covering many aspects of physical and emotional health like smoking cessation, movement, and healthy eating. Employees were free to sign up and join any workshop that interested them. Similar projects are run around the world, with wellbeing seminars in Canada, and Zumba classes being offered in Malaysia, for instance.
Bring on the bikes
As part of the effort, the team behind the initiative even re-thought the head office environment in the corporate headquarters in Amsterdam. Because sitting down for too long is now recognised as a health risk, there is a shift towards so-called active alternatives. Staff were invited to try out a number of new furniture designs and vote for their favorites.
“Based on the feedback, we now have 11 floors with desk bikes, so people can pedal while working,” says Sill Raedts, part of the Healthy & Happy Project Team.
Many office spaces themselves have since been revamped so employees can opt for stand-up meetings if they wish. Standing not only improves the metabolism and wellbeing; it has also been shown to boost creativity and alertness. And, because our minds do well with downtime, a silence and meditation room is currently in the works, Sill explains.
Up and running
Yet redesigning the office can only do so much. People need to change their lifestyle habits too. “And that’s notoriously difficult,” says Sill. “We all know that we need more exercise, but the gap between knowing and doing remains hard to bridge.”
Real life gets in the way, which is where the Movement workshop came in. It was designed to drive action and immediately afterwards, people could sign up for the many company activities on offer including: yoga, cricket, squash, football and running.
“We had people who started from scratch in April, and are now regularly running five kilometers,” Sill says.
So far, 750 staff have taken part in the program. “People are so enthusiastic that we’re doing something to help them get healthier,” Sill says.
“I recently had someone telling me how they now start their day off with a smoothie they learned to make at the Nutrition workshop. They’d even gone and bought a Philips blender especially!”
Beating stress As well as creating awareness and stimulating healthy practices for employees, the Healthy & Happy program encourages managers to act as role models; leading by example.
This is something that Egbert van Acht, CEO Health & Wellness in Philips’ Personal Health division is passionate about. He led a workshop showing managers how to support healthy goals, especially when it comes to tackling stress – a primary health risk. Philips HQ alone has 15 health ambassadors, and each local Philips office has a champion as well.
Why are programs like this so important? Because maintaining good health and happiness is something we can all work on. And at Philips, we believe that we’re at our best when our employees are at theirs.
See in here
A sneak peak at Sleep. What did we learn from our resident sleep experts at the Sleep workshop? Press play to get 5 valuable tips on a better night’s sleep.
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