We’ve talked before about the association and nonprofit organization as an employer and workplace, and steps you can take to promote a great workplace culture to attract and retain top quality employees. Now that the economy is doing better – the Dow just broke 17,000 for the first time and there were 288,000 new jobs created in June 2014 –employee recruitment and retention is going to be an even hotter topic. One aspect of workplace culture we have yet to discuss is promoting healthy living among your employees.
This is important for a number of reasons. With two-thirds of American adults overweight or obese, healthy living has become paramount—and promoting this topic in the workplace (where most of us spend eight- plus hours or more per day sitting at a desk) is vital. Additionally, workplace health programs are popular with employees. Thanks to the Internet, more information about healthy lifestyles is available than ever before, and health and fitness trends (such as Crossfit, juice cleanses, and gluten-free diets) are sweeping social media. Tap into this audience among your employees, and encourage everyone to improve their health.
Why, you might ask? Well, for one thing, it can improve productivity. Studies have shown that regular exercise and a healthy diet improves sleep habits and accelerates focus and brain activity, which will lead to more productive employees bringing their best ideas and energy to the table. Additionally, healthier employees obviously means fewer sick days. We’ve all seen it before, the “domino effect” during cold and flu season: one person comes down with a bug and one by one employees start calling in sick. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the flu alone costs U.S. employers over $10 billion per year.
Here are some ideas to get you started promoting health and wellness in the workplace?
Got a Meeting? Take a Walk! – The West Wing, a popular show about staffers in the White House featured the infamous “walk and talk,” with characters walking briskly down a hallway while making decisions and crafting strategy. The creative team behind the program probably thought this approach was more visually interesting than watching people seated around a table, but it’s not a bad idea to get people up and moving during the day. While this approach may not be feasible for meetings with more than three or four staffers, it’s a no-brainer for smaller brainstorming sessions. Walking meetings are a great way to get out of the office for fresh air and exercise, and are endorsed by the American Heart Association.
Consider “Active” Workspaces – While most people have seen colleagues sitting at their desks on exercise balls before, there are a number of ways to integrate daily activity into the drudgery of a desk job. Many workplaces are now offering employees the opportunity to work at a “standing desk” for part or all of the day, as health experts agree that even standing still to work is better than sitting for the duration of the day. To take the idea even further, some offices have installed “treadmill desks” for employees who would like to keep moving throughout the day.
Organize Company Sports Clubs – Active workspaces and walking meetings are great ideas to encourage employees to move during the day, but they aren’t always convenient or possible for everyone. But never fear, there are other options that are not only great ways to encourage exercise, but also promote a fun and collaborative workplace culture. Why not start up sports clubs in the office? While many dread the idea of the company softball team, many other options exist these days. Running and triathlon events are more popular than ever, an office running club could meet before or after work to get in some miles and have fun. For the less athletic among your employees, many cities even offer leagues for adult kickball teams and other more casual sports that are less intimidating, but still get people moving.
What are some ways your office promotes health and fitness? Let us know in the comments!