How Employers Can Reduce Back Pain With a Wellness Program Approach

October 08, 2018

Two coworkers have a meeting while on a walk
Encourage your department managers to host "walking meetings" to help reinforce

Coworkers discuss work during a walk.

Stephanie Dwilson

With a little creativity, employers can reduce back pain within their staff and make a wellness program a top priority in the office. This is important because back pain can actually be a significant drain on your staff and business. BMJ reports that back pain is the second greatest cause of lost work productivity. Lower back pain can cost $34,600 in lost productivity and under performance for every 100 workers, says SHRM.

Spinal health is a vital issue for employers to address, and many businesses are already leading the way with innovative ideas and actions.

Employee Health Clinics

Some businesses offer in-house health clinics to encourage employee wellness. In fact, Amazon is launching a pilot clinic for its Seattle headquarters later this year, according to CNBC. With an in-house clinic, employees who need a doctor's advice on back pain can see someone at work and not delay because they're worried about taking time off. Clinics are typically outsourced, but Amazon is creating its own.

If an in-house clinic isn't in the cards for your business, you can offer your employees free time off to see a doctor for health issues, including back problems.

Gym Discounts and Memberships

Some companies have an in-house gym that makes it easy for staff to work out. But, if you can't do that, your business can still offer free or discounted gym memberships. You might be surprised at just how encouraging this can be to your staff.

Healthier employees may also have less back pain as they strengthen their core and back muscles. You can even encourage healthy spinal living by offering a free personal trainer session for each employee who signs up for a gym membership. This can help them get started right and make sure they're doing their exercises correctly.

Ergonomic Furniture and Standing Desks

Another great idea that's easy to implement is offering ergonomic furniture and standing desks. Many employees spend hours in front of a desk — but poor posture can result in chronic neck and back pain. An ergonomic chair with lumbar support and an ergonomic keyboard can help, according to Lancaster Neuroscience & Spine Associates.

Massage Therapy Discounts

Massages can really help with back pain. Consider having a massage therapist come by to give chair massages, and then offer a discount to encourage your employees to make their own appointments later. You might even be able to make a deal with a nearby massage business to offer discounted plans.

Wellness Programs

An in-house wellness program can be as simple as offering exercise classes that employees can take during lunch, or before and after work. One type of class that can help employees' spinal health is yoga, which can reduce back pain and even decrease work absences, reports The Conversation.

Another option is offering a wellness program that is run by your health insurance provider. This might include incentives like lowering health care premiums if employees "earn" enough points each month from certain physical activities, such as the number of steps they take.

Google has a comprehensive on-site wellness program that includes chiropractors, physical therapy, massage services, community bikes and more, notes Monster. If you can't offer these services every day, even one day a week or month can make a difference.

Healthy Work Culture

Encouraging a healthy work culture can also help with spinal health. Offer lower-calorie, healthier drinks and snacks in the break room instead of just candy, chips and soda. Losing weight can sometimes make a big difference in back pain. You can also encourage your department managers to host "walking meetings." Rather than just sitting around a desk for a staff meeting, they can take their staff for an outdoor stroll each week. Modeling healthy behavior can make a big difference in an office's overall wellness.

Creativity and outside-the-box thinking can help reduce back pain in your staff. Investing in a wellness program can actually be an investment that pays off in health savings and higher productivity in the long term.

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