What comes to mind when you think about yoga? You may think that yoga pants are comfortable on a lazy weekend at home but you would never wear them to work. You may think of some of your more zen friends and then laugh. Perhaps you don’t think yoga is the right form of exercise for you, but recent studies may make you think twice about that assumption.
It turns out that there are many physical and mental benefits of performing yoga on a routine basis, and those benefits aren’t limited to your personal life. More and more businesses are thinking about offering yoga programmes as employee incentives because they increase employee health, increase productivity within the workforce and can potentially reduce the number of injuries suffered on and off the job.
Yoga programmes are now available through live instructors, DVDs and internet-based courses. You can even perform yoga with a cheap mat or carpeting and written instructions. Something as simple as a booklet that contains pictures of various yoga poses could potentially become a powerful tool for a business interested in keeping workers health and happy so that they report to work more often and work harder when they are on the clock.
Yoga Relieves Stress, Promotes Happiness
In 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a report that showed workers missing five or more consecutive days from work were more likely to do so as a result of stress or mental health issues than as a result of a physical injury. This signifies a shift from physical injuries causing the majority of work absences to mental distress causing a large percentage of absences.
This is an important shift because work absenteeism costs businesses a lot of money due to loss of productivity. According to research completed by Safe Work Australia, absenteeism costs businesses more than $10 billion every year, so it is in the best interest of every business to minimize work call offs to the greatest extent possible.
Researchers are now starting to explore the physical and mental response to yoga as well as other forms of exercise. One study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people performing yoga experienced a more significant boost in happiness than those completing a walking programme. There are other studies starting to surface which also validate the claim that yoga boosts positive thinking and increases overall sensations of happiness and well being.
This is important because workers are now under more stress in the workplace than ever before. The amount of stress experienced is even greater for employees and contractors working on or within close proximity of heavy machinery or toxic chemicals. The more hazardous or dangerous the work environment, the more stress employees are likely to feel while on the job.
Stress also comes in the form of harassments, conflicts with colleagues and pressure to complete duties that are potentially unethical. This type of emotional stress is just as debilitating as the stress of physical danger when it is suffered on a routine basis over a long period of time.
Since more workers are now calling off work due to the mental and physical effects of stress, it’s important for businesses to help workers fight off those effects. Yoga is proving to be one of the most cost-effective options, and it has many other benefits for employers and employees.
Yoga for Pain Management and Prevention
One of the biggest benefits to performing yoga on a routine basis is the stretching and strengthening of muscles throughout the body. It is important to strengthen the back and other core muscles in order to perform the poses correctly, and that offers three benefits for employers and employees:
Stronger, more flexible back and core muscles reduce the chance of employees suffering injuries in the workplace. Employers invest in employee physical fitness in order to benefit from reduced rates of injury which cost the company money.
When an injury is sustained at or outside of work, stronger muscles increase the chances of a fast return to health. This limits the amount of time employees may need to spend away from work when injuries do occur, increasing productivity and saving companies money.
Employees suffering from chronic back over a long period of time can learn to manage the pain naturally through yoga, allowing them to work even while in pain. This is beneficial to the employee in need of a paycheck and the employer in need of active, productive workers.
Yoga and ROI
Is it possible that paying for yoga programmes could provide a substantial return of investment, or ROI, for employers? Could something as simple as offering yoga classes for all employees once a week improve the health and increase productivity for all workers within a business? Research is showing that yoga is beneficial physically and mentally to workers, so employers can consider it wise to invest in the health and well being of their employees in this manner.
The payback comes through reduced employee absenteeism, fewer workplace injuries, and more productive work from employees when they are o the job. As employees maintain healthier bodyweights, feel more energetic and increase muscular strength, they also start to feel happier and more content. That means they can focus on their jobs and put more effort into their duties, and that benefits employers tremendously.
There is no way to eliminate all forms of stress currently affecting workers, but companies can potentially benefit from keeping workers on their toes with regular yoga classes. In many studies completed to date, the best results came from weekly programmes featuring one or two classes of 50-60 minutes each.
There are many ways that employers can offer that type of programme to employees either through live courses offered on the job or DVDs, mats, printouts and other materials provided for practice outside of the workplace. Some companies may even find it beneficial to offer incentives to employees embracing their health and wellness by picking up yoga classes on their own.