When it comes to employee health, think outside the box

You get it. You’ve read the reports; checked the stats; and every tweet, post, and article you see is sending the same message: helping employees manage their physical and mental health is critical to your business success.

Sounds simple enough, right? But you know it really isn’t. Putting up posters, stocking healthy snacks in the vending machine, and offering up the standard “use them or lose them” vacation days might have cut it ten years ago, but in today’s competitive environment, companies need to be innovative to attract talent and keep them healthy, happy and productive.

So, what does innovation in employee health look like? Let’s look at a few examples of Canadian employers that are really thinking outside the box when it comes to finding new and creative ways to keep employees healthy at work.   

Google is a leader in innovation, and their approach to keeping work fun and healthy is no different. Their new Kitchener, Ontario office features huddle spaces for collaboration; free healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner; games rooms; and a fitness centre with a climbing wall. Most Google offices also offer onsite wellness and healthcare services, like physicians, chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage services.

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, as you can probably tell from the name, is not your typical organization – and it shows in more than just their work in physics!

PI recently implemented the 3-day PI – Here for Each Other support program, which provides training (facilitated by Homewood Solutions) for employees who have had difficult experiences and want to leverage their experience to support fellow employees. This builds on PI’s long-standing investment in their employees’ health through initiatives like healthy food options, family Bistro night, on-site Yoga instruction and massage services, as well as an on-going integrated wellness programs with over 60% employee participation.

Starbucks Canada recently increased its mental health benefits from $400 to $5,000 per year for all employees who work 20 hours a week or more, and their dependents. That’s a 1,250 per cent increase in benefits and is an incredible commitment to improving employee health! When asked why Starbucks Canada made this investment, Sara Presutto, VP of Human Resources, stated “We do not believe the current level of support for mental health benefits provided by Canadian employers is sufficient and we encourage all companies in Canada to step up and join this important effort.”

Whether it’s through increasing mental health related group benefits maximums or implementing a Mental Health and Wellness Support program, Canadian employers are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to employee health.

What about your organization? We’d love to hear your ideas for taking employee health to the next level. Connect with us on Twitter @cowaninsurance and share your creative employee wellness initiatives.