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Health Affects Office Productivity – Workplace Perks Include Wellness Programs

Stress in the workplace depletes more than the employees. According to a recent report issued by the International Labour Organization, job stress costs the economy more than $200 billion every year in lowered productivity, absenteeism, compensation claims, health insurance and medical expenses.

The ILO figures for 1997 indicate that Americans work more hours than any other industrialized nation, including Japan.

In today’s job market, companies are realizing in order to recruit new employees as well as improve productivity, morale and loyalty among current employees, they need to be more creative about the benefits they provide than ever before.

Many employers are now offering new perks , from sun decks, coffee bars and game rooms to fitness, laundry and takeout facilities , so employees working these long hours are still able to maintain a normal lifestyle.

In addition to onsite fitness centers, there has been a recent emergence of some other perks being offered by way of corporate wellness programs, which can include such things as massage therapy, nutrition and image consulting.

– Massage Has

Beneficial Effects

Massage primarily increases blood circulation and stimulates lymph flow. Many don’t realize how much these two actions affect our health.

Every cell in the body relies on being fed oxygen that is carried by the blood, and passing off impurities and waste from body tissue through lymph. Lymph does not circulate; rather, it moves through tissue primarily from muscle contraction.

Massage drastically increases the flow of lymph through our bodies.

For those who generally do not exercise regularly, massage can be the primary trigger of lymph movement. People that exercise regularly benefit as well, in that it can speed the recovery from post-exercise fatigue. It also increases the oxygen capacity of blood, soothes the nervous system, promotes healthy skin condition, and loosens and stimulates muscle tissue.

Studies have also shown that massage decreases stress by as much as 50 percent. In 1996, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami did a five-week study in which a group of 26 employees received 15-minute massages twice a week. The group experienced not only reduced stress, fatigue and anxiety, but enhanced alertness.

Results were measured through electroencephalograms (EEGs), math skill testing, and stress hormone detection in saliva. The control group of 24 employees, who closed their eyes and relaxed for the same amount of time, showed no improvement.

Stress is believed by some researchers to contribute to 80 percent of disease. It can be a sole source of depression, high blood pressure, migraines and many other illnesses.

Due to the growing cost and incident rate of disability, medical claims and expenses, employers are putting more stock into preventive medicine methods to keep employees well. Many companies periodically have massage therapists available onsite where an employee can go for a 15-minute massage, for as little as $15.

– Programs Include Image,

Nutritional Consulting

Another recent addition to progressive corporate wellness programs is nutritional and image consulting. Self-image is often evident in a person’s work product. Sometimes when employees work long hours, they do not have time to keep up on their appearance, which ends up taking its toll. A poor self-image can contribute to depression and a lack of self-confidence, which can be very damaging to an employee’s productivity.

Image is also becoming more of an issue with the young CEOs of the high technology world. We saw Bill Gates and Michael Dell go from geek to GQ, virtually overnight. Also many seasoned executives are realizing that today, physical appearance does contribute not only to employee confidence, but also to that of consumers and investors.

Diet is also of utmost importance, especially to those burning the midnight oil. Employees working long hours need to make sure they are getting the proper nutrients to fuel their bodies so they don’t burn out. Proper nutrition is a key factor in disease prevention. Eating right can help prevent many illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and the common cold.

According to the American Dietetics Association, however, three out of four Americans say there is too much conflicting information about a proper diet. Many people do not have the time to do the thorough research it takes to make sure they are getting the right nutrients.

Dunn is president and CEO of C. Spa Salon, an operator of full-service day spas providing treatment-based hair styling, face and body skin care, massage and nail care. With locations in the La Jolla and Banker’s Hill areas of San Diego, C. Spa Salon plans to have 16 salons in operation by the end of 2000.

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