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Characteristics of Healthy Workplace Environments


05May 2009

Recently, the American Psychological Association recognized 14 companies as leaders in creating healthy workplace environments. Besides just helping their employees “feel good” (the ubiquitous reply to anything psychologists do), there are some practical economic benefits for the companies as well:

  • One company has reduced absenteeism by 34 percent
  • The average employee turnover for the top five award winners was 11 percent, in comparison to the national average of 39 percent
  • At these companies, 85 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs, in comparison to only 61 percent nationally
  • And only 5 percent of the employees indicated they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year, compared with 32 percent nationally

What are these companies doing that is making such a difference with their employees? Here are some of the resources, policies and action steps they have taken (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Having an on-site nurse to see sick employees
  2. Offering health screenings to employees
  3. Parental leave for parents to attend school functions (plays, luncheons)
  4. Discounts on private gym memberships
  5. Financial incentives to employees who reach health-related goals
  6. Tuition-assistance programs
  7. On-site child care
  8. Workshops on money management and debt reduction
  9. Cash rewards for recruiting new hires
  10. A wellness day once a month with access to chiropractic, massage and nutritional services
  11. Smoking cessation help
  12. A mentoring program between junior and senior management
  13. Executive coaching for senior managers
  14. Nutrition classes

One final note: 87% of the employees at these 14 top companies would recommend their place of employment as a good place to work (while the national average is only 44%). How would your company fare in such a survey?

If you are an owner, manager or supervisor, take a minute and revisit the list — see what small steps you could possibly take to make your workplace more employee-rewarding. Often there are community resources (e.g. for nutrition classes, for money management courses) available for no cost.

And if you are an employee, take a look at the list and see if there is a characteristic that is especially inviting to you. Talk to your colleagues, and maybe your supervisor, and see how you might work together to get this resource at your workplace. You never know — a little initiative and communication can create positive results.

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