Healthy you in a healthier workplace
You spend a large chunk of your time at work. This means it’s super important to do what you can to create a work environment that supports your desire to look after yourself.
Your workplace may be your home office (as it is for me) or you may work for a large multi-national corporation – or anything in-between. There may be a comprehensive corporate health and wellness program already in place. Or maybe it’s just be little ol’ you making all the decisions.
Regardless of your situation, everyone benefits from working in a healthier environment – individual employees, employers, solo business owners, clients and providers.
Be prepared to be an advocate for a healthier workplace regardless of your role. Educate others of positive impacts:
- Increased work productivity – In Australia, the healthiest employees are estimated to be three times more productive at work than their colleagues *
- Decreased absenteeism – Unhealthy employees take up to nine times more sick leave than their healthy colleagues. Preventable illnesses and diseases and workplace injury are major causes of workplace absence and disruption. The occurance of each of these is reduced by reducing risk factors in workers (e.g. smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise and excess body weight). *
Other benefits include:
- Improved team morale and team bonding
- Improved health and fitness of staff
- Decreased stress levels
- Reduced compensation claims
- Improved life balance
- Improved staff loyalty
* Source: The health of Australia’s workforce, November 2005, Medibank Private
A workplace that helps to make businesses more productive and staff more engaged makes good sense on all levels.
Simple changes to improve your workplace environment
Birthday cakes in the office and pastry/muffin platters at work meetings are not the healthiest food offerings! Make “Healthy Office Catering Options” an agenda item for your next team meeting. As a team decide on healthier options for food-related work activities.
- Celebrate all birthdays falling in a given month with a single cake on the first work day of the month OR ditch large birthday cakes altogether and instead buy a fancy cupcake for the individual having the birthday
- Replace sugar and fat-laden meeting munchies with a fruit platter
- Source a corporate catering firm with a focus on providing healthy, nutritious options
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit in the office instead of a lolly jar
- Include some healthier options in the office vending machine or have the machine recalled
- Swap Friday drinks for a group meditation session (You never know. They might go for it…)
Boost activity levels
Look for ways you can increase movement in work situations.
- Encourage “walking coffee meetings” where you grab a take-away beverage and stroll with your colleague whilst talking business (instead of sitting in a cafe and being tempted by the ever-present banana bread and muffins)
- Engage a group trainer for lunchtime or before/after work training in a park near your office. If you work alone, find other home-based business owners in your area and meet at a local green space. Consider strength training circuits, boxing, yoga and other styles of exercise.
- Organise a corporate discount at your local fitness centre for your team or company. Buddy-up and workout together.
- Enter a charity walk/running event as a corporate team and create a training schedule.
- Encourage team members to set reminders to stand and stretch at regular intervals during the day.
- Instead of booking a table in a restaurant, choose an active event for your office Christmas celebration. For example, take your team ten-pin or lawn bowling, indoor climbing or on a flying fox adventure. Something a little less strenuous could be a team scavenger hunt or a local guided walk. Alternatively your team could learn a skill together, such as how to salsa or how to cook a fancy healthy meal (that you get to eat at the end).
Other health and wellness strategies
Source some health and wellbeing posters suitable for the workplace and display them in lifts, bathrooms, stairwells, hallways, meeting rooms, etc. These are great prompts or reminders to make healthy choices each day.
Organise a health professional to speak to your team or run a lunchtime workshop. With your colleagues, brainstorm topics of interest and ask your speaker to customise their content for your workplace. Here are a few ideas for workshop titles:
- Choosing the healthy option at (your company name)
- How to manage stress and overwhelm at work
- Healthy business travel for the jet setting executive
- Positive thinking skills in the workplace
- Motivation to exercise: Creating the exercise habit
- Healthy body weight at work
What other strategies are working for you in the workplace? I’d love to read them in the Comments section and I’m sure others would too!
Here’s to your health…