Promoting Wellness in the Laboratory
Keep staff happy, healthy, and productive with wellness programs
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, it is more important than ever to make sure that your dental laboratory's employees have access to the most comprehensive wellness plan. A variety of wellness programs are available to assist in maintaining a healthy, happy, and productive staff. Traditional wellness plans consist of smoking cessation programs and discount gym memberships to encourage people to remain active and increase cardiovascular activity. There are also programs for weight loss, diabetes management, and nutrition counseling, as well as preventative health screenings that can detect early warning signs of cancer and other ailments. Employees will be more inclined to participate in these benefits if you make them part of a company-sponsored plan.
While the severity of the pandemic is now beginning to subside, there is still heightened concern about employee wellness. Laboratories can offer annual flu vaccinations and booster shots for COVID-19 vaccinations as part of their wellness programs. It is also important to look at stress management programs. Everyone has been impacted by the hardships of the ongoing crisis over the last 2 years, and more people than ever would benefit from access to mental health assistance.
Another type of employee wellness that is often overlooked is musculoskeletal health. In any work environment where employees are sitting and concentrating for extended periods of time—such as the office-based positions of a dental laboratory—spinal health and comfort are essential. Dental laboratories can help alleviate issues with immobility and poor posture, as well as improve employee well-being and productivity, by developing a workplace program that incorporates ergonomic best practices. One way to implement this is to provide sit-stand desks, which have been a staple of ergonomic workplaces for many years. A sit-stand solution that is highly adjustable and comfortable allows employees to move between sitting and standing throughout the day, increasing overall movement. Having footrests and adjustable keyboard trays also assists with maintaining the correct working height and alignment of the spine.
The best way to gauge the needs or effectiveness of an ergonomic wellness program is to assess employees to see if they maintain a neutral posture and if they move throughout the day. Periodically walk around the laboratory and observe postures and whether people are sitting or standing. Implement administrative controls that will help increase mobility and improve posture. Consider standing meetings, specific break times for employees to get up and walk around, or an office designed to encourage standing and walking. Employee adoption of ergonomic practices is best encouraged through education, training, and incentivizing behavioral changes with rewards and recognition.
Holding traditional lunch and learn sessions and obtaining employee feedback is a good starting point to launch a wellness program or to enhance an existing one. If the prospect of designing your laboratory's wellness program in-house seems overwhelming, you can research corporate wellness partners in your local market. They can design a custom program that will fit the needs of your employees.
Considering your staff's needs and creating a healthy work environment—both physically and mentally—can make an enormous difference in productivity levels and employee retention. Organizations that build a culture founded on health and well-being also see increases in engagement. A healthy staff with access to the right wellness tools will lower your absenteeism and will keep the laboratory running at full capacity. A happy staff creates a strong work culture and a better laboratory.
About the Author
Brian Forman is a Human Resources Manager with AccentCare in Brooklyn, New York.