Healthy employees are happy employees. Studies show that good eating habits and regular exercise promote not just physical fitness but mental fitness as well. Anxiety and stress are a real concern, both in and out of the office. Millennials are particularly prone –– 12 percent of millennials have been officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That means implementing helpful health and wellness measures is a great idea.
Unfortunately, it can backfire. Inclusivity is vital. Too often employees who are already fit gravitate toward free gym memberships, exercise challenges, and weight loss goals. Meanwhile, those struggling with eating disorders or diets view the promotion of wellness plans as covert criticism. If you’re pushing your staff to work long hours, subjecting them to flares of temper and not rewarding them for a job well done, adding a new program for their wellness will be seen as too little too late –– not to mention a bit hypocritical. The key is treating your staff with respect and empathy while offering these five health and wellness ideas in the workplace that can be enjoyed by everyone.
1. Leave the Office Behind
If the COVID-19 pandemic revealed anything, it was that many of us didn’t enjoy working in an office. The sudden shift to working from home was a blessing to anyone who already loathed office buildings’ weird temperature shifts, unpleasant lighting and poor airflow, let alone their connection to viral spread. Some offices became open-air work places during last year’s lockdowns. So if your staffers are moving back to the office give them more opportunity to work in the great outdoors. Try walking meetings –– strolling around the office park or even an actual park. Have small conferences in a rustic setting. Even an afternoon break at an outdoor mall will help.
2. Healthy Meals and Snacks
Free food is a consistently cited perk that attracts new hires while retaining old ones. Although Google offered no-cost chow as a way to foster collaborations among people who didn’t share workspaces it can also launch healthy habits. By serving catered meals that use fresh wholesome ingredients you can improve the diets of staffers who usually get their lunch from fast food restaurants. If you can’t provide meals, consider switching out the donuts in the break room for fresh fruits and veggies
3. Bike it In
Adding bike racks to an office building eases the concerns of the cyclists on your staff. Providing promotional materials about the benefits of biking to work and encouraging your employees to do so could start a new trend. Although not ideal everywhere, bike riding is a popular activity that can accommodate riders of all sizes and fitness levels. If some of your staff is working from home, plan a meet up where they cycle with colleagues.
4. Help the Stairmasters
Think about your building’s lobby. Chances are the elevator bank is clearly identified and visible as soon as you enter. The stairway is often concealed. Most buildings keep them hidden to the side, barely marked and rarely used. Yet putting up fresh signage on the stairwell entrance and taking the lead in taking the stairs can inspire a very simple way to get in shape. Instead of leaving work to run on a treadmill, climbing five or ten flights will give you the same benefits. Plus, it’s easier to socially distance in a stairwell than an elevator –– something to consider even when the pandemic is in the rear view since cold and flu viruses will still be with us.
5. Stand Up and Deliver
Sitting and staring at a computer for eight hours a day isn’t healthy. Examining 13 studies that looked at participants’ time spent sitting and their activity levels, one report determined that people who “sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.” However, those who engaged in moderate physical activity for at least one hour per day counteracted the damage. So, encourage your staff to take regular breaks –– around ten to fifteen minutes for every 90 minutes of work. Then, think about offering standing desks along with higher tables for workspaces. No one should feel forced to adopt this but many companies report improved performance and healthier employees when standing desks are added to the mix.
Health and wellness are important components in any successful 21st century company. Just by adding a few new measures, you could be helping your staff not only live longer but better.
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