Promoting Health and Wellness in the Workplace
By Damien Lacey, Marketing Coordinator, Montridge Advisory Group Ltd.
When employees feel good, organizations benefit. But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Employees may not be aware of best practices and exactly how to be the best version of themselves from a health and wellness perspective. This is where you as an employer come in.
What is the key for your workplace to create an environment for good habits and healthy choices? Support, support, and more support!
Here are seven measures you can take to enhance your workplace to encourage healthy behaviours and mindfulness to benefit your people’s physical and mental health.
1. Encourage movement and exercise
It is very easy to sit at your desk all day long with your head stuck in your computer. Encouraging employees to step away from being engrossed in their work stations can do wonders for their health – increased blood flow and energy, improved posture and a clearer mind just to name a few. How about having a timer every 30 minutes that you have to do 60 seconds of exercise like jumping jacks or stretching to counteract the effects of sitting.
2. Healthy eating habits
Food has a huge impact on our productivity levels. Having policies and best practices at work will help employees be healthier eaters. The changes to do so can be small. People tend to eat healthier in groups, so instead of leaving employees to eat at their desk why not have a designated area in the office or on site and encourage people to eat together.
3. Educate, Educate, Educate
As the saying goes, we don’t know what we don’t know. It is key to provide resources and information to allow employees to make informed decisions on how they are eating, exercising and living. Bringing in experts to educate your people. Nutritionists, mental health experts, fitness trainers are all examples of great resources to have come in and speak.
4. Create a wellness team
Designing and managing a health and wellness program is tough.One really effective tool is having a team made up of a cross section of employees from all company levels to help implement, and monitor the plan. Having leaders at various levels, in different departments will increase buy-in and provide effective feedback.
5. Keep employees connected
Employees don’t like to be isolated. Humans need social interaction. What can you do to ensure this happens? Keeping in mind that some of your people experience social anxiety. Have in person office hours, weekly team meetings and opportunities for non-work related interactions such as an in person or virtual happy hour, hobby clubs such as knitting, or cooking, or hiking. Even having a puzzle on a spare table that people can work on alone or together. Encouraging social interaction has become tougher with the changing work arrangements but it can still be achieved with a little imagination. Ask your team for suggestions.
6. Create a supportive environment
A workplace culture where employees feel that you value their health and wellness acts as an incentive to be more proactive. Create an environment which allows employees to flourish. Have healthy food choices in the vending machines, work schedules that allow workers to prioritise exercise, reward health achievements like completing half marathons for example.
7. Encourage people to stop smoking/vaping
Millennial vaping is at an all time high whilst Canadian manufacturers produced 1.1 billion cigarettes in January 2022 (up 7.5% from last year). Encourage your employees to stop smoking and vaping. Even being in the presence of smokers can have detrimental impacts on your health.
Don’t worry, promoting health and wellness in the workplace doesn’t have to be expensive and really complex. Start with small steps. Measure what has worked and what hasn’t. Tweak the plan using feedback from your people and build on your successes. When you make this a priority, your employees will work harder for you.