Employers often focus on improving employee productivity by providing office resources that help employees do their jobs more efficiently. Employees receive new smartphones and other technology tools to help improve the speed of their work. Free lunches are brought into the office and onsite childcare facilities are offered to keep employees in the office and less distracted. Like workplace efficiency tools and office benefits, employee wellness programs should also be viewed as a crucial productivity improvement tool.
A recent study highlights how exercise may have an impact on an employee’s productivity. Robert Pozen, a Harvard Business School lecturer and fellow at the Brookings Institution, explains how regular exercise can help keep you mentally sharper and more productive in the workplace:
As you age, your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells (a process called neurogenesis). However, early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. In other words, by the time they reach their 50s, 60s, and 70s, people who exercise might have more brain cells than their more sedentary peers — giving them a major advantage in the workplace.
The impact of exercise on productivity is also evident in a study conducted by Researchers at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute that found that those who exercised reported “improvements in self-assessed productivity — they perceived that they got more done at work, had a greater work capacity, and were sick less often.”
Company leaders should view wellness as an employee productivity tool and champion healthy lifestyles. Managers concerned with optimizing employee productivity need to find ways to make employee wellness a focus of their team’s culture. Supporting employee wellness may mean allotting time during the office hours to exercise, letting employees leave early for a yoga class, encouraging use of an employee wellness program, or bringing healthy snacks into the office.
Not supporting health and wellness can have serious risks for a company. A recent study found that employees who did not participate in company wellness programs had a 12% loss in productivity or 27 days per year due to poor health. The task of championing a wellness program often solely resides within the human resources team – this needs to change. With the potential for a 12% productivity loss, managers should view promoting health and wellness as mission critical even if it’s not in their job description.