Promoting Active Health and Wellness at Work
Work that requires long stretches of physical inactivity can be detrimental to your health. Studies have found that those who sit more at work have a higher chance of obesity compared to those in more active jobs. There are many positive health effects to be gained from adding activity to your workday if your job requires you to sit most of the day. Finding ways to increase activity at work may be a challenge, but short breaks can motivate and refresh, while increasing focus when you return to work. To encourage and promote active health and wellness in the office, consider the following.
Although many office workers and others who sit on the job have heard about the effects of remaining sedentary for long periods, many are not aware of how much time they spend sitting during the day. Find ways to help employees track their work routines and determine the best strategies to incorporate healthy solutions. Would ergonomic office equipment improve comfort and ease the strain of extending time in front of a computer? How often are breaks needed? Do you need to sit through every meeting, or can conversations happen while walking or during some sort of active brainstorming? Also, if the company provides food or free snacks at meetings, are healthy choices offered?
Encourage Activity throughout the Day
Take a lead role in encouraging individuals to incorporate daily physical activity into their workday. Here are just a few suggestions:
- You can encourage physical fitness by providing items such as bikes and showers to provide an active mode of transportation to and from work.
- Posters or timers on computers can remind workers to take breaks and encourage movement.
- Encourage taking the stairways in addition to elevators to provide an alternative way for people to be more active throughout the workday.
- Consider converting open space to an area with a more active focus. Rather than simply providing a coffee machine, consider adding to a casual office environment with games, ping-pong table; or a more active design, which allows for greater movement in the work setting.
- Provide maps of walking or running trails near the office for those who want to be active outside during lunchtime.
Organize Fitness Programs
If there's enough interest for organized programs, consider spending a part of the discretionary budget to sponsor fitness activities. In addition to wellness, running or biking clubs or participation in inter-company sports leagues can promote employee team building. Yoga classes or other types of stress-reduction activities can help those who need time to recharge before diving back into the heavy focus of their work.
Offer Gym Access
For those with an exercise routine, access to a gym can help ease some of the stress associated with finding a time and place to exercise. This can be accomplished through an in-house fitness center or discounted memberships to nearby facilities. For small companies with a limited budget, an employee discount program including gym memberships is a low-cost option that works well. Depending on the size of your workforce, a small in-house gym may be enough to keep employees active. Before investing in equipment, solicit input from employees to better understand if they would want this type of perk.
Like any employee benefit, the success of a voluntary health and wellness program should be studied and the participation rate assessed on a periodic basis. Gauging initial interest can provide feedback on changes in work satisfaction. Tracking participation is also helpful; if an item such as a company gym isn’t used frequently by employees, you may need to think of an alternative option. Any wellness program that is adopted should be part of an overall employee satisfaction and retention strategy, and should also fit in with the current company culture.