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3 Approaches to Wellness at Work

New wellness efforts target occupational hazards—waiters and their backs, doctors and their emotional well-being


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Photo by Robert Benson

Full-time employees spend roughly one-quarter of the 168-hour week on the job. That’s 25 percent of our lives sitting at a desk or standing on our feet; hunched over a computer or carrying heavy trays; tending to patients or troubleshooting complex technical challenges. In an effort to ease occupational stressors that threaten workers’ physical and emotional health, companies are implementing a variety of workplace wellness initiatives that cater to the unique challenges of their field. “Traditional wellness programs are being replaced by those that are interactive and speak to the job,” says Gregory Florez, a consultant on corporate wellness for the American Council on Exercise. Here are three industry-specific approaches.

 

Stress Relief for Caregivers

While health care organizations are clearly focused on the health and wellness of their patients, they also know that employee health and happiness contributes to overall patient satisfaction. One of the most popular wellness programs at Scripps Health has been Mindfulness Meditation Sessions, established in 2016 to teach staff methods for stress reduction. For 30 minutes an Employee Assistance Program psychologist, as well as special guests from the community, lead a guided meditation to help staff improve work/life balance and boost energy, attentiveness, productivity, and effectiveness in the workplace and beyond.

 

Yoga for Servers

Sara Szunyogh, a yoga instructor at Normal Heights studio Pilgrimage of the Heart, worked in hospitality on and off for thirty years, so she understands the physical demands of the job. “Standing for hours is incredibly stressful on the lower back and hips,” she says. “Lifting heavy trays of dishes strains the back, arms, and wrists, and looking down while prepping food strains the neck and shoulders.” Thanks to an initiative led by Herb & Wood’s executive pastry chef, Adrian Mendoza, Szunyogh now leads yoga classes for hospitality workers in a mixed-use space adjacent to Herb & Eatery on the first and third Mondays of every month, focusing on relaxing these overworked parts of the body.

 

Quality of Life at Qualcomm

San Diego–based tech giant Qualcomm secures its consistent spot as one of America’s best employers thanks in part to its industrial safety and ergonomics initiatives and its comprehensive wellness program, which promotes work-life balance with a focus on mental health and recreation. Qualcomm’s Sorrento Valley campus features an on-site health center that offers acupuncture, physical therapy, dietetics, vision and chiropractic services; fitness facilities with yoga classes, personal training, and a pool; annual health screenings and wellness surveys; and 50 employee affinity groups, or “QClubs,” spanning meditation, working mothers, “MilQ” for breastfeeding support, sports clubs, painting clubs, foreign language learning, reading clubs, and much more—all to boost the spirit, inspire camaraderie, and ease workplace stressors.

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