5 tips for a healthier workplace
In the last 5 years, workplace wellness has become the norm, as insurance companies and employers finally agree with wellness experts that healthier workers save money - through increased productivity, reduced sick days, and reduced medical bills.
Whether you work for a large company with a formal workplace wellness program, or at an itty bitty start-up or mom-and-pop shop, you can use these ideas to spark discussion at your own workplace. Find out if your company has a Wellness Committee or similar group, or create your own!
One of the most important aspects of adopting change for a healthier workplace is buy-in from everyone. Changes may not be do-able at a company-wide level, or department-wide level. Customizing changes for teams, divisions, and other units will enhance adoption because it will meet the needs of those employees. More examples on that later.
include, don't exclude
In addition to customization, adopting a policy of inclusion over exclusion will make everyone feel like they can jump on board.
For example, including healthy options (not excluding unhealthy ones) on a department lunch menu, and starting new wellness events without slashing the community candy bowl will make everyone feel included.
OmBody Health provides some great wording for launching healthy initiatives in the work place, such as a healthy catering policy:
As part of [company’s] effort to ensure to that our workplace fosters and does not hinder employee wellbeing, and is supportive to those making an effort to eat healthier, we commit to adhere to the following guidelines when providing food for company meetings and functions... [ source ]
move together at work
We've all heard how bad sitting all day is for us - but even with standing desks and work treadmills, sometimes the computer work so pervasive to our way-of-work is just easier sitting down.
Designate a Wellness Leader to lead stretch breaks during the day, with a focus on neck, shoulder, and hand/forearm stretches to reduce back pain and issues like carpal tunnel. If the funding's there, you can also set up a wellness area with yoga blocks and resistance bands to help.
Change is hard, but making change in a group activity will enhance acceptance, and for employees who are particularly on board, they won't feel singled out for wanting to take quiet time during the day or stretch.
department wellness survey
One of the best ways to come up with individualized wellness changes for your team, for your division, your department, your company is to do a quick survey.
What matters to your employees? Is it having a stretch break each day, or a yoga class in the conference room each week? A lunch time walk? Or perhaps changes to the food offered at events or available in the break room is more important.
Citing data and majority opinions will help buy-in with the final recommendations, instead of feeling like a top down directive.
WELCOA has great resources to launch a culture of wellness - including an inventory check list, a questionnaire, and many other surveys. View all of the WELCOA resources here.
Snack Nation has a primer on what types of questions (needs versus interests) and how to use incentives to launch an effective wellness survey.
Finally, HAP has a sample survey already written out that you can adopt for your needs.
Is there someone in your department that just loves to bake? There are some who love to bake, but don't have anyone to bake for, so they bring it in to work!
Designating a day each week or each month for special baked treats may satisfy all parties while removing the daily temptation.
say no to weight loss challenges
Focusing on pounds lost is not the most effective or healthy wellness program to adopt. It's easier for some to lose weight than others, and it focuses attention on only one aspect of health. Furthermore, the competitive nature may encourage adoption of unhealthy exercise and eating patterns that - you guessed it - is not good for your health.
Bringing everyone together for educational programs on how to adapt exercise to your needs, or how to make small nutrition changes; setting up regular yoga or stretch breaks for employees - these activities promote wellness in a community environment.
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a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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