In today’s workforce, healthy employees are in the minority. In the last 10 years, despite increased awareness of work-related health concerns, the health of the Australian workforce has deteriorated. In our 24/7, switched-on world, employees are under increased pressure to perform, often compromising sleep, good nutrition and exercise to stay back at work and meet deadlines.

In this frantic environment, it’s no wonder that 1 in 4 Australians reported moderate to severe stress in 2014, according to a study by the Australian Psychological Society (APS). And with the link between high stress and poor health now widely accepted in the medical field, a holistic approach to health and wellbeing is becoming fundamental.

To combat high levels of stress, unplanned leave and absenteeism amongst employees, there has been a gradual shift towards holistic health programs in the workplace.

In fact, according to the 2016 ISS ‘New Ways of Working’ survey, helping employees managing their work-life balance will be the most vital workplace amenity by 2020.

To boost the health of the Australian workforce, CEOs and employees alike are looking to integrative and holistic therapies. Holistic health programs can bridge the gap between poor lifestyle and dietary habits, high stress and low productivity amongst employees. For any organisation, these factors contribute to high unplanned leave and absenteeism.

By addressing underlying health factors, CEOs and leaders can build a happier, healthier workforce, boost team productivity and increase staff retention. For employees, holistic health programs can teach better self-care and work-life balance, driving deeper engagement in the workplace.

Holistic health programs teach employees to look after their physical, mental and spiritual health as a holistic whole. By integrating these programs into the workplace, CEOs and leaders can build stronger relationships with staff, helping them feel nurtured and supported.

It’s time for CEOs and leaders to implement holistic and wellness programs in the workplace: programs that treat employees as unique individuals with specific needs and teach people how to maintain a healthy work-life balance in the long-term. Short-term solutions are not enough to drive change.

4  tips on how to drive a healthier workforce 

1. Make it personal

Holistic health programs don’t have to directly relate to work. In fact, it’s great to offer staff a much-needed mental break from their busy work schedules. Nurture the mental and physical health of your staff through team classes like Yoga, Tai Chi or Meditation, and/or one-on-one sessions like Naturopathy and Remedial Massage. By doing this, you'll enhance both team cohesion and individual wellbeing.

2. Be flexible

Not everyone wants to get cheaper gym classes or change their diet, so it’s crucial to offer a range of health and wellbeing packages and/or classes. Talk to your staff about the kinds of health programs that would benefit them the most. Be realistic, but also open-minded and flexible. By addressing the individual needs of your staff, you will ensure that everyone feels respected, supported and cared for. Remember that one size does not necessarily fit all.

3. Make it accessible

When introducing new holistic health programs, ensure that there is time during the work day to try them out, or make the sessions accessible to staff in their own time, through vouchers or special deals. With these programs easily available to everyone, you can build a better bottom line across your organisation. Happier, healthier workers are more productive workers.

4. Be inclusive

Remember that your staff are unique individuals with varied levels of health and fitness. Make your holistic health programs as inclusive as possible, catering to beginners while offering more intermediate or advanced classes. An inclusive and equal approach to health and wellbeing will ensure your people feel looked after, enhancing staff engagement and loyalty to the workplace.