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The concept of workplace wellness is something many companies struggle to understand. Some equate wellness with physical health, believing employees do not need assistance in this area. Fortunately, employee well-being has grown to encompass more than comprehensive health care benefits, including employee wellness programs and health resources focused on sleep, nutrition and mental and physical health. Tyler Cooper, MD, MPH, President and CEO of Cooper Aerobics, examines the importance of employee wellness and how it has expanded during his time in the health and wellness industry.
The importance of employee wellness
Employee wellness has increased in importance over the years according to Dr. Tyler Cooper. “Employee well-being has become the standard at most companies—the employers who do not see the importance of supporting their employees’ health and wellness are behind,” says Dr. Tyler Cooper. Employee wellness at many companies has gone from offering strictly health benefits to supplying employees with a place to work out, mental health resources and even on-site, drop-in clinics. Other companies’ wellness programs include yearly physicals and screenings. “If you’re not taking care of your own, how are you going to take care of the people you serve?” asks Dr. Tyler Cooper.
Sleep, nutrition, mental and physical health play a critical role in how you perform at work. Proper nutrition helps you fuel for the day and keep your mind sharp. Getting good quality and quantity of sleep helps you feel well rested throughout the day. Exercise is a great outlet for many, not only for reducing stress but also to improve the quality and quantity of life by reducing the risk for disease.
Employee wellness programs
Today, many companies offer employee wellness programs in addition to health benefits for their employees. In 1995, Dr. Tyler Cooper helped relaunch the direction of Cooper’s corporate wellness services with Cooper Wellness Strategies—Cooper’s business-to-business entity. The focus is on delivering strategic, well-designed, well-managed corporate wellness programs that positively influence the workplace environment and improve the bottom line. The same approach was applied to Cooper Aerobics’ teammate wellness program as well.
“A company that has the means to meet the malleable needs of the employee is what creates a successful wellness program,” says Dr. Tyler Cooper. “Here at Cooper, a large focus of our teammate wellness program is cardiovascular fitness in addition to blood work and biometric screenings. Measuring fitness as a vital sign through a simple cardiovascular fitness test and screenings can benefit anyone.” Fitness and wellness is not one size fits all so it is important to create a program geared toward the employee’s specific needs with attainable goals.
What makes an employee wellness program successful? “The most successful programs meet the needs of the companies people,” says Dr. Tyler Cooper. “Each company has a different demographic with different needs or challenges, so taking the time to evaluate your company and create a plan is vital to success.” Some companies may struggle with their employees using tobacco while another may struggle with their employees not getting enough exercise throughout the week. Although both relate to health, these companies should have different goals set for their employees. “Setting realistic goals for your employees is an integral part of any wellness program,” says Dr. Tyler Cooper. “If you’re setting unrealistic goals, employees will become discouraged along the way and not want to take charge of their health at all.”
Kristin Wall, President and CEO of Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation, a Cooper Wellness Strategies client, says, “I’ve been a patient at Cooper Clinic for years, so I was thrilled to bring their expertise into our corporate environment at LWCC. Since 2018, LWCC has partnered with Cooper Wellness Strategies to operate our on-site fitness center and lead wellness initiatives designed to meet employees where they are on their wellness journey. With Cooper’s support, our wellness initiatives have become a great source of employee morale and are often cited as powerful talent attraction and retention benefits.”
Relieving stress from work
Stress is a natural part of life and when not properly addressed can affect daily activities and physical health. Dr. Tyler Cooper shares he relieves stress or worry from work by practicing his Christian faith, exercising regularly, daily intellectual stimulation and surrounding himself with friends and family. “By remembering I have a purpose and am helping people improve their lives helps me get through stressful days,” says Dr. Tyler Cooper.
While at work, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a short walk around your building, eating lunch outside or performing deep breathing patterns can help to quickly reduce stress and anxiety. Recognizing your stress and ways to relieve it instead of letting it build up will help you perform well at work.
For those who work at home, it can be hard to create a work-life balance. Dr. Tyler Cooper suggests finding an area of your home where you are only going to do work. If you need to take a personal phone call or eat lunch, leave the room. Having a separate workspace from the rest of your home life will help you create balance and reduce stress.
Dr. Tyler Cooper offers his top three wellness tips for employees and employers alike:
- Do not use tobacco
- Get a collective 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week
- Consume a healthy diet paired with adequate sleep
More health tips can be found on Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s 8 Healthy Steps.
Statistics show healthier people are more productive and can be a business advantage in today's competitive marketplace. Cooper Wellness Strategies works with organizations across the country providing innovative, customized strategies to create lasting health change among their employees and transform their workplaces through wellness. Services include wellness program development and management, fitness center management and consulting.
For more information about Cooper Wellness Strategies, visit cooperwellness.com or call 972.560.3263.