Yes, Corporate Wellness Programs Really Work

Written by Kim Sin
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On average, Americans aged 25-54 spend about 40% of their life working. That means for every hour you are alive, for the next 20 years, there is a good chance you will spend about 30 minutes of it working.

And while some people may love their jobs, 83% of American workers report being stressed, which is up from 73% a year ago.

We all know that high levels of stress can hinder work performance, cause illness, and make life a lot less enjoyable.

That's why in the battle for talent, many leading companies Google and Twitter offer a variety of employee perks ranging anywhere from laundry to catered meals and even childcare, to help take the edge off of the work week.

And just last month, Facebook announced they will freeze female employees eggs to delay motherhood. Whoa!

Most companies will never have those kind of incentives, but the good news is that even small to medium-sized companies can integrate low-cost, high impact activities into the workweek to help their staff relax, unwind and lead a more balanced life.

For the past five years, I've been teaching and leading corporate wellness programs for technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Even a 20 person team can implement something small like an hour of yoga a week to invest in their employees well-being.

Approximately one-fourth of all major American employers now deliver some version of stress reduction, according to journalist David Gelles, whose forthcoming book, Mindful Work, explores the spread of meditation and yoga inside the business world a trend now reaching beyond Silicon Valley.

My office yoga practice has doubled in size the past year alone. I teach a wide variety of professionals from CEOs, lawyers, writers, scientists, software developers, human resource managers, marketing professionals, and more regardless of their background.

I surveyed some of my students to discover how yoga helps get them through their week and they shared a number of reasons for enjoying office yoga:

  • Improvement in overall flexibility
  • Builds strength and provides great exercise
  • Heightened focus and mental clarity
  • Relief from stress and anxiety

I see these benefits in my students every single day. They walk into the room with work and stress on their mind and an hour later, they leave with a completely different approach to the day.

One student shared, "Yoga allows me to spend more hours working, as opposed to eating or complaining to colleagues."

A scientist (and yoga student) at a Biotech firm said, " I have made profound technological breakthroughs by being more focused and clear-headed after a session of yoga."

I often invite students to make requests at the beginning of class. Many ask for neck stretches, poses that relieve back tension from sitting for too long, and wrist stretches from built up tension from typing all day or being on their phones.

I can sense the calm that these employees gain by breathing into and addressing their areas of tension. It's as though they're letting some air out of an overinflated tire, or taking off a tight new boot that still needs breaking in. They're able to go back to work more mentally calm and feeling a whole lot better inside their bodies.

So I guess I'm one of the lucky ones I love my job and I get to help others feel better at theirs. What does your company offer to employees to improve their overall health and well-being?

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