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Does An Ice Vending Machine Encourage Employee Wellness?

Employee wellness programs are becoming more popular all across the country. In fact, 39 percent of private industry workers and 63 percent of local and state government workers had access to employer-provided health and wellness program benefits in 2017.

Often, employers find that investing in wellness programs represents a smart financial choice. Not only are workers with access to these programs less likely to miss work due to stress or illness, but it’s a great way to reduce the costs associated with healthcare coverage. After all, a healthy employee is a happy employee, and happier employees are more engaged and more productive (by 12 percent, on average).

But one component of workplace wellness that isn’t talked about a lot is hydration. Considering that our bodies are comprised of anywhere from 55 to 75 percent water and we can survive for only three to four days or so without it, water is a topic more businesses need to include in the conversation. In American office buildings, the traditional soda-filled vending machine is ubiquitous. But could something as simple as an onsite ice vending machine encourage healthy hydration habits in your workers?

Out with soda.

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 48 percent of Americans reported drinking at least one glass of soda per day, with 2.6 glasses being the average among those who regularly drank carbonated beverages. But in the years since, soda consumption has been on the decline. In 2016, it fell to a 31-year low, while bottled water, enhanced waters (sparkling, flavored, or otherwise value-added), coffee, tea, and energy drinks all gained popularity. The likely reason? Consumers are becoming more health-conscious.

Beyond that, schools, hospitals, and even workplaces are ditching sugary drinks on their premises to encourage students, patients, and employees to cut down on consumption. These soda bans have proven successful in getting individuals to significantly decrease their intake. While it might not be a cure-all for obesity, it has profound effects on the weight and overall health of those involved.

In with water.

Of course, getting rid of sugar-filled beverages is only half the battle. In order to quench employees’ thirst and encourage healthy habits, employers should provide a welcome alternative. There’s really no better option than dihydrogen monoxide, or as you probably know it: water.

Dehydration in the workplace is a serious problem, particularly in challenging conditions. By the time a worker feels thirsty, he or she is already two to three percent dehydrated. Once the feeling of thirst sets in, it’s actually difficult to make up for that hydration loss.

Common signs of dehydration include dry mouth, listlessness, headaches, fogginess, concentration issues, irritability, and confusion. But setting up an accessible workplace hydration program can make it easier for employees to drink enough water throughout the day.

Vending machines used to be associated with soda pop and junk food, but healthy versions are popping up in workplaces across the country. Fresh vending machines can encourage healthy snacking, as 100 million Americans use vending machines on a daily basis and workers are more likely to reach for nutritious options when they’re nearby and displayed in an enticing way.

The same goes for water consumption. Water and ice vending machines are the refreshing alternative to the outdated water cooler model, allowing employees to access cool and clear water on a regular basis. By making hydration an attractive priority, your employees will be more likely to give up soda for good and power through their day with help from good old H2O.

You can even implement a company-wide hydration policy, pursue hydration training, and enforce employee water breaks to supplement those efforts and drive home the important role water plays in our health and happiness.

Installing an ice and water vending machine in your business is only the first step to improving employee wellness. But it’s an essential step to take if you want your workers to be productive, engaged, and happy at the office.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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