05 January 2020

Workplace Wellness – How to Promote Sustainability and Healthy Habits in the Workplace

By: Emmalie Wolter

The average employee spends over 2,000 hours per year in their office space. Therefore, it is safe to say that a work environment can have a large impact on the quality of an employee’s life. It is essential that a company has people dedicated to developing and maintaining wellness and sustainability initiatives to keep workers and their environment healthy.

Wellness in the Workplace

There is currently a very high demand for hiring and retaining talented employees. One major way to ensure that your company can keep these employees satisfied is by actively working to increase wellness options in the workplace. Not only do these types of initiatives keep your employees physically healthy, but it also makes them feel happy about coming to, and being at work. Some options for these types of initiatives include:

  •  In-Office Health Scrvices – There are many services that will come into your office and offer employees quick health and biometric screenings. This can be a great way for an employee  to initiate a conversation with a healthcare professional, even with busy schedules, and they can be alerted if there is anything they may need further care for or need to monitor. In addition to these screenings, other services can be offered to promote employee health throughout the year such as flu shots.
  • Fruit Water Stations and Healthy Snacks – Making these options available can cut down on consumption of junk food and soda, and will make employees feel more alert and engaged with their work.
  • Showing Employee Appreciation – In addition to wanting workers to feel healthy and energized, it is also important to make them feel valuable and appreciated. Things like periodic chair massages, acknowledging birthdays and special occasions such as holidays and life events, and impromptu lunches in the office are easy to organize and go a long way.
  • Promoting Active Lifestyles – Keeping employees active, rather than sitting at a desk and staring at a screen all day can also increase wellness and energy. Companies can offer standing desks, fitness challenges and encourage employees to take a quick break from their screens and walk outside during lunch.

Wellness Outside of the Workplace

As important as it is to keep employees healthy and happy at work, it is equally important to show them you, as a company, care about their life outside of work, and that you value their work-life balance. There are many employee benefits that can really increase positivity towards the company. Some ways to increase all-around, healthy lifestyles for employees include:

  • Gym Memberships / In-Building Fitness Centers – It’s important that employees have options for ways to get active. Companies can provide affordable and easy-to-access options for exercise by reimbursing gym memberships and choosing a location with a fitness center in the building or choosing a fitness center close to where the company’s office resides.
  • Promoting Green/Efficient Commuting Options – Although it can be overlooked, commuting can add a lot of time on to a work day. An office space near trains and busses can help employees get home faster and make commuting less stressful. Another option for employees that live close to work is to offer bike storage or bike-share memberships, which also ties into wellness initiatives.
  • Participating in Intramural Sports & Charity Walks/Runs – These activities can increase employee engagement, promote a greater sense of community and support health and wellness goals.
  • Work-Life Balance – It is important to consciously create ways to show employees company values their personal life. Clune offers Friday hours all year, so employees can get a jump-start on the weekend. We have found that having an ‘end-time’ of even an hour earlier on Fridays can make a big difference. Companies can also encourage employees to take personal days for a mental break and occasionally close the office early on an exceptionally beautiful day.


In addition to improving employee’s work environment, it is important to think about how our workplaces impact the overall environment. There is a lot of waste in most offices and a few easy alterations can mitigate that.

  •  Make Recycling Easy – The best way to encourage recycling is to make it simple. Along with trashcans at workstations, add recycling bins for paper. Clearly mark recycling containers in any kitchen or pantry space and make sure it is clear what items to recycle and where.
  • Work to Eliminate Paper and Plastic in Pantries – One huge source of waste is single-use paper plates and plastic utensils. Although it is an investment upfront, providing enough re-useable plates and utensils for everyone can be cost-saving in the long run. If you still need plastic or paper, place them in a less convenient location, so it is easier for employees to grab re-usable options.
  • Greenery in the Office – Keep as many plants around the office as possible. Not only is this on-trend and aesthetically pleasing, it also can improve air-quality.
  • Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Supplies – With so many people moving about a typical office every day, cleaning shared surfaces is critical. Opt for green options, rather than harsh chemicals – this is better for employee’s health and the environment.

The main thing to keep in mind is that implementing a few simple changes can really make a difference to everyone’s day, and most importantly show your employees that the company truly values their health and happiness.

About the Author

Emmalie Wolter is the Office Manager at Clune Construction in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Illinois State University and has been at Clune for 4 years. Emmalie manages the day-to-day needs of the Chicago office, and also supports Clune’s other locations. She spearheads the implementation of Clune Culture in the workplace, organizes various company events and manages sustainability and wellness initiatives. Emmalie grew up in the Chicago suburbs and currently lives in the city. She is an active part of Clune’s softball team and on the weekends she enjoys trying new restaurants in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

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