When most people think about programs for employee health and wellness, they tend to immediately conjure up ideas of large events like weight-loss competitions and company-sponsored races. In reality, though, the majority of successful corporate wellness initiatives take on a much more subtle form and simply support healthy lifestyle choices. A powerful strategy that companies can use is creating a wellness or relaxation room for employees. What can a space for reflection, relaxation and privacy do for the well-being of your employees? How can you create one effectively?
Open to Ideas
Despite its growing popularity, a wellness room can be a difficult thing to define simply because it can take on many forms based on the needs of your employees and resources of your business. At its most basic, a wellness room is a private area where employees can take a break and care for their own wellness. This may be a relaxation room for employees, a fitness center or a nursing room. At their offices, Unilever has taken an interesting approach to this by providing its employees with a complete "Wellbeing Zone," which is divided into several sections that focus on different aspects of well-being. In one area, employees are encouraged to socialize. Other zones offer exercise equipment and healthy snacks. A final portion is kept silent so that employees can relax and even take a nap if need be. Of course, it could be a multi-purpose space in which employees can do whatever they need throughout the day.
While you may not be able to offer all of these amenities, there are a few basic principles that should be applied to make a successful employee health and wellness space. First, as mentioned, it must be private. Ideally, this would mean that individuals would have an area with a lockable door. These rooms should also be comfortable, well-ventilated and properly lit. Essentially, the goal is to create a space in which your employees want to relax. This also requires that the relaxation room for employees be properly furnished. At Zappos, for example, relaxation rooms feature sofas, recliners, beanbag chairs and other items so that employees can be comfortable and recharge during the work day.
Interestingly, companies like Google have decided to distribute futuristic "nap pods" around the corporate campus in addition to the other facilities made available to employees. In these pods, employees are shielded from any outside light and sound so that the can catch a nap whenever they need it.
But ... Why?
The big question here, however, is: Why? What are the benefits for the company when employees have spaces like this available to them. While it might seem counterintuitive, the truth is that providing your employees with the chance to relax and even sleep throughout the day has been shown to improve both morale and productivity. Several studies have backed this up, including one such study from the University of Michigan.
The researchers behind that particular article found that individuals who napped were more likely to remember facts that they learned earlier in the day and exhibited better problem-solving skills. Participants that slept were also more patient and less likely to get frustrated when dealing with difficult tasks. Clearly, offering a relaxation room to employees along with your other wellness programs can provide many benefits to everyone involved.