by Kate Elliot

Arianna Huffington

Too often, employees are overworked, stressed out, and exhausted, and they bring all of that to work with them every day. It’s a struggle for the employee just to get through their day, and this presents challenges for the employer. When a staff lacks energy and focus, they start under-producing, which can cost the whole company. This is the way of many American workplaces today, but Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post, is trying to change that.

Arianna Huffington knows how important the overall health of her employees is, and she knows that as the co-founder of the company, there’s a lot she can do to help them achieve their personal wellness goals. Going beyond the one-time team-building events and offering traditional benefit packages – the old ways of helping employees achieve their goals – Huffington has instituted a number of wellness programs for her staff, which in turn helps them be more productive, both at work and in their personal lives.

Those programs are many, including meditation, breathing and yoga classes, as well as a gym and nap rooms. The nap rooms, says Huffington, is one of the most popular features in the New York office; and while employees were hesitant to try them at first, they now require sign-up sheets, they’re so popular. But Huffington also knows that while encouraging rest and physical wellness is important, the reason employees work in the first place is to secure their financial wellness, and she helps them do that, too.

One of the longest-standing programs at Huffington Post is the Virgin Pulse wellness program, which helps employees earn up to $500 a year by living a healthy lifestyle.[1] Every employee also gets three paid volunteer days a year in order to give back to their communities, and the paper will also match up to $250 of charitable contributions the employee makes every year.[2] These are just a few of the employee wellness and engagement programs Arianna Huffington is proud to offer her employees, and she sees it as a shift that’s going to happen in more and more companies, as these are trends that are only going to continue to grow.

“With all the enthusiasm and momentum behind efforts to improve well-being at work – from improving sleep to reducing stress – there’s good reason to believe the American workplace will continue to make significant progress between now and 2025,” Huffington tells Future of Business and Tech.

Huffington’s not alone in her effort to help improve employee wellness. Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, rewards employees with up to $300 for every 20 days they sleep at least seven hours a night.[1] And nearly since its inception, Google has been well-known for offering employees complimentary healthy snacks, game rooms, and nap pods, available anytime someone needs a little shut-eye.[2]

Napping is a common theme among companies concerned about their employee’s wellness. Uber also has napping spaces for their in-office staff, and Proctor & Gamble has also realized the relationship between sleep and productivity, and designated napping spaces for staff members.

And the evidence only continues to point to that very relationship. A study performed by McKinsey & Company analyzed 81 organizations employing 189,000 people all around the globe. That study was called “Decoding leadership: What really matters,” and found that there was a direct link between the quality and quantity of sleep a person received, and the leadership skills they exhibited after sleeping. The study found that there are four types of leadership behaviors that can be aided by a well-rested mind. Those are: results orientation, meaning that a person is better able to focus and concentrate; problem solving; decision-making; and supporting others. [3]

For companies that want to get more involved in the wellness of their employees, and want to get started right away, installing nap rooms and creating yoga programs are beneficial, but can take time, requires office space and can be expensive. Helping employees with their financial wellness however, is something that can be as easily done as writing their paycheck. By offering programs such as student loan repayment assistance, matched saving plans, and a paid time off bank, employers can show that they do care about the wellness of their employees and in the end, that all helps improve the bottom line.

Simply put, employees that are happier and more fulfilled are less stressed, and in the end, more productive, which is proof enough that employee wellness and engagement programs work.

[1][2] http://www.futureofbusinessandtech.com/workplace-wellness/arianna-huffington-on-managing-employee-wellness-and-engagement

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aetna-pays-employees-to-sleep-more_us_570e78abe4b03d8b7b9f1712

[4] http://www.geek.com/gadgets/google-uses-high-tech-nap-pods-to-keep-employees-energized-1264430/

[5] http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organizational-cost-of-insufficient-sleep

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