More and more companies are bringing massage into the workplace. Although at first it seems like a major investment in time, money and space, they’re discovering that those costs are far outweighed by the benefits they’re seeing in reduced employee stress, as well as increased morale and productivity.
If you’re wondering why so many companies are finding ways to fit massage therapy into the workplace, read on for the answers to some common questions:
Why would a company bring in a service reserved mostly for the spa and for sports teams?
Although massage therapy really can feel like a luxury, the benefits go far beyond pampering or sports injury therapy. One of the major benefits is stress relief, which also happens to be a major cause of workplace absenteeism.
These days it seems as though everyone is stressed, particularly with the way the economy has been in the past year or so. Our bodies are designed to react to that stress by either fight or flight; in other words, we’re programmed to burn off stress with physical activity. As the stress occurs, the hormonal system kicks into action: insulin is secreted to open up pathways to the muscular system; and cortisol, the protection hormone, is secreted. Next, the digestive system diverts blood from the intestines to your muscles; and your liver diverts blood to the muscles and secretes blood sugar. All for the anticipated exertion.
In other words, stress is more than just a feeling – it’s a complicated response and our muscles are the system that is supposed to control it.
Unfortunately, in our society today, we don’t handle stress with any kind of physical activity, particularly not while we’re sitting at a desk dealing with the latest job pressures. You end up with a body that is primed for intense physical exertion, and contains damaging levels of cortisol, with no outlet.
This is where massage comes in. Recent studies have shown that a therapeutic massage has benefits far beyond that feeling of well-being:
• Reduced cortisol levels
• Lowered blood pressure
• Reduced heart rate
• Reactivated digestive system (you’ll know that when your stomach gurgles)
• Released tension in the muscles
When you combine all of these positive reactions from a massage, you get a much more productive employee. Studies have actually shown that when employees get a quick massage at work they are able to complete math questions faster and more accurately than they could before their massage.
So if productivity is something your company is looking to improve, on-site massage could be a program to look at.
But, how much space is needed?
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Perhaps you’re wondering whether you’re going to need to set aside a private space big enough to house a massage table. Well, the good news is that a massage table is no longer the only way to receive a massage.
On-site massage is now almost always done on a massage chair. This is a chair designed specifically for workplace massage and the space required is minimal; usually a small meeting room will work quite well.
To measure the space needed, take the chair you’re sitting in right now, put it in the middle of the room and walk around it. That will give you a fairly accurate idea of the space you’ll need for the massage chair. You should also have room for a table where the therapist can write receipts and place a laptop for managing the schedule. So, your massage therapist can work quite comfortably in a room as small as 10′ by 10′.
What about privacy?
Massage chairs were designed, not only to address space issues, but also to negate any privacy concerns. When you get a chair massage you remain fully dressed and you might only need to remove an outer jacket for example. The massage chair is even skirt or dress friendly. This means that the room doesn’t necessarily even have to be window free, either. Any room can be used as long as it is separated from others walking around, although the more privacy that can be offered the better.
How much time is this going to take?
Many companies worry about how long their employees are going to have to be away from their desks. Doesn’t a massage usually take an hour?
The answer to that is that on-site massage sessions are usually somewhere between 10 minutes and 30 minutes, depending on the massage company and how they schedule their services. Generally 15 or 30 minute massages work best for the workplace.
So for the same amount of time it takes for a coffee break any company can offer massage in the workplace.
Scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis, that is a minor amount of each employee’s time, in return for a huge potential gain in productivity.
A silver bullet to increase productivity and morale?
This is the golden question, and I’m afraid the answer has to be no. Most companies are looking for ways to improve productivity and morale but there isn’t any single service that can guarantee that.
However, massage can be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a healthy, productive workplace. Used in conjunction with other productivity tools, it helps to create a well-rounded environment that supports employees in many ways.
So don’t hesitate to look into on-site massage for your workplace. Even though massage may not be for everyone or every workplace, it is a service that can be offered to employees, with minimal space and positive results.
Finally, if your company is interested in starting up an on-site massage program it is critical to have buy-in at the executive level. The best health-friendly offices come from the top down, and when executives participate by getting a massage themselves and sending out reminders to employees, the best results follow right behind.