Establishing an employee wellness program is a great step, but it’s only the beginning of what you can do to promote health at work. For many people, fitting exercise time in during the day isn’t easy, especially when there’s nothing around the workplace to support it. Many employees solve this dilemma by killing two birds with one stone: walking, jogging or biking as part of their commute to or from work. What can you do around your office to make this behavior more widespread? It will involve some investment, but that should pay off with increased employee health overall.

Support Your Wellness Program

It takes effort to set up an employee-focused health program that’s accessible to all your workers, and all that effort is relatively meaningless if you don’t back up your talk with helpful changes around the office.

The key is to make participation as convenient and comfortable as possible for all your employees. People who walk, jog or bike to the office need an appropriate place to clean up before work. Providing a locker room or enhanced bathroom facility where employees can change, freshen up and shower after their morning, lunchtime or late-afternoon exercise is a great enhancement to your office space. Besides the hygiene issues, it’s also a place where exercise equipment can be stored. Naturally, this type of space requires guidelines to make it clean and comfortable for all employees, and you’ll need one room for each gender.

Bike-Friendly Space

Biking to work is becoming more popular, especially in urban areas. People think of it as an environmentally friendly way to avoid rush hour on the train, bus or highway while getting in a good workout to start their day. For your employees who cycle to work, it is important to have a safe, convenient location where they can park their bikes. Maybe you don’t have space for a bike room in your building, but at the very least, try to provide an outside area that’s enclosed and secure. Make sure locking mechanisms are prevalent (or encourage employees to bring their own) and that the area is well-lit and easy to access from your workspace.

Hopefully, these changes encourage enough people that your initial investment is offset over time through improved employee health. You already know that sick days resulting from poor health and chronic illness lead to less productivity. Establishing wellness objectives and adjusting your company philosophy to accommodate your employees’ needs will result in lower health care costs. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle should attract employees to your company and keep retention levels up. Consider it an investment worth taking.

Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.