Wellness in the Workplace: Beyond the Bottom Line

Written by: Chloe Gentry, Director of Marketing & OD

The contemporary business world is abuzz with the trend of “workplace wellness.”

As companies race to keep up with Google’s sleep pods and bountiful gourmet cafeteria, research is coming back spotty on the effectiveness of wellness programs. In February, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study that found wellness programs — even those with incentives — don’t significantly change employees’ behavior and, therefore, do not decrease a company’s health care spending.

Indirect Return on investment

While the return on investment (ROI) of most wellness programs is difficult to pinpoint to a direct monetary gain, we believe their greatest value lies in their ability to bring a team together and foster a positive corporate culture. Our experience here at Cherrylake is that while they may not show up on the end of year budget, these intangibles help shape a more collaborative work environment and an openness to being vulnerable at the workplace, which helps employees learn and grow together.

We also believe our wellness programs increase tenureship and attract candidates most aligned within our culture, setting new employees up for success. When we start talking about the cost of onboarding, the cost of training and the cost of a ‘bad hire’, workplace wellness ROI can be monetized more readily. The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) considers the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days. From this perspective, wellness programs can bring true returns to your HR department, beyond health insurance and sick-leave costs.

At Cherrylake, wellness takes many forms.

Our wellness programs are designed to cater to our employees’ interests, piggybacking on their immediate desires, from walking meetings that take advantage of the miles of trails throughout the farm to our Run the Year challenge and stand-up desks. We also offer exciting new experiences such as Chi-Tai lessons or juicing classes. These help nudge employees to grow. Our programs are focused on getting people outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful views of the farm while getting a dose of fresh air to energize their bodies and minds. But most importantly, our wellness initiatives are group activities, allowing employees to reap the benefits of the social connections made during a round of soccer or gathering around a mature oak for group meditation session.

A weekly Yoga class is Cherrylake’s newest initiative. Open to all employees and their spouses, we gather under the Millenium Live Oak mother tree at the farm on sun decks that face acres of Crape Myrtle production. Our yoga instructor leads us through a full hour of mindful practice that not only focuses on the body, but also sets intentions to carry through the yoga flow and back with us to the office and beyond. These may include patience, gratitude, being present in the moment, releasing negativity or balancing stress and comfort. By setting an intention, we build a bridge between what we work through on the mat and our daily lives off the mat in the office, field or at home. Over half of the Cherrylakers that participate each week were introduced to the practice through this program. We measure the success of this program in its ability to offer a new experience that employees have openly embraced and to get our people outside to enjoy our campus while practicing and learning as a group.

Wellness and the needs around it are ever evolving. I am excited to see where Cherrylake’s wellness programs lead us next, and would love to learn more about wellness initiatives that our industry partners are exploring.

 

Published June 2018