Held every year on April 7, Walk to Work Day is an easy opportunity to educate employees on the benefits of regular exercise. (It’s also World Health Day!)
Walking to work has environmental benefits, too.
“The heart of Walk to Work Day isn’t just based in our physical and emotional health, but actually concerns itself with the health of the planet as a whole. Prevention magazine promoted this holiday in 2004 and it was quickly picked up by the US Department of Health and Human Services,” according to DaysOfTheYear.com.
Walking to work — even part-way, for employees who commute long distances — has benefits that can directly boost employee wellbeing and build workplace productivity, performance and culture.
Benefits of a walking habit include better mood and increased creativity, metabolism, mindfulness and motivation, according to the Prevention article “7 Incredible Results You’ll Get From Walking 30 Minutes a Day.”
Walk to Work Day is just one of many unofficial holidays throughout the year that are perfect for promoting employee wellbeing. HR experts are calling 2017 “the year for wellness” — read on for more health-focused holidays and to find out what makes a high-value employee wellbeing program.
2017: ‘The Year for Wellness’
Companies are doubling down on prioritization of employee wellbeing in 2017, according to Amy McDonough, vice president and general manager of Fitbit Group Health. In a guest post for HR Dive, she says 2017 will be “the year for wellness.”
From 1996 to 2016, the percentage of companies offering wellness resources and information increased from 54 percent to 72 percent, and companies offering weight-loss programs increased from 29 percent to 31 percent.
Looking ahead to the coming year, McDonough quotes a survey of company leaders. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they plan to expand emotional, mental and financial health programming for employees.
Workplace wellness doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Employee wellbeing and employee engagement “go hand-in-hand for producing great performance and strong workplaces,” McDonough writes, citing observable correlation between employee benefits satisfaction and job satisfaction.
The most effective employee wellbeing programs are tailored to meet employees where they are, according to McDonough:
“Thinking about how to effectively connect with your people is critical, whether it’s the office ultramarathoner or the person just starting their fitness journey. There is huge potential in getting someone to take that first step.“
Why it’s Worth the Investment
The financial incentive for companies to develop employee wellbeing programming isn’t just speculation, according to a recent research study by Welltok.
The study found that a company with 10,000 employees can drive $3 million in new value by raising engagement through a wellness program for workers and dependents.
“High value activities” identified by the study include improving mental health, optimizing medication use and managing chronic health conditions. Walking is one affordable, effective way to manage chronic health conditions, for example.
In another study of business leaders, this one by Virgin Pulse, 78 percent reported employee wellbeing is a critical part of their business plans. The survey of 600 global organizations also found that among respondents with holistic wellness programs, 74 percent saw an increase employee satisfaction.
“Wellness programs that raise employee satisfaction can also increase productivity, which, in turn, has bottom-line benefits for organizations. And mental health awareness is just as important for ensuring employee wellbeing as physical health,” according to an HR Dive analysis of the study.
Upcoming Holidays to Promote Employee Wellbeing
Missed your chance with Walk to Work Day? There’s always next year. And keep these upcoming wellness-focused celebrations on your radar:
- Microvolunteering Day (April 15): Helping others doesn’t just benefit recipients. It’s good for volunteers’ mental health and fosters a culture of gratitude.
- Kickball Day (April 20): Play this classic game as a team to get exercise and bring back childhood memories.
- Earth Day (April 22): Be kind to the planet and get physically active. Volunteer with employees on a park cleanup or other environmentally friendly project.
- World Laughter Day (May 7): Laughing is good for the mind and body, plus it builds teamwork and improves collaboration.
- Bike to Work Week (May 15-19): Like Walk to Work Day, Bike to Work Week is a practical way to promote fitness with employees and partner with the community.
- National Employee Health & Fitness Day (May 17): Get moving! Be sure to award employees for their involvement in fitness activities. May is National Employee Health & Fitness Month, so make it a celebration that lasts.
- Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 23): Pet-friendly workplaces are on the rise, and for good reason: it’s good for morale!
Don’t forget to thank employees for their participation in wellness activities. For the greatest impact, have company leaders participate alongside employees.
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar
We all need inspiration to make employee appreciation a daily habit. gThankYou’s 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
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