Improve employee wellbeing and health with simple, inclusive ideas
The evidence of the effects of sedentary lifestyles are mounting up, and as more and more jobs go indoors the effect is being compounded by sedentary working lives.
Unhealthy employees are more likely to miss days at work, and compared to fitter employees have lower morale, less engagement, less time in roles and less productivity. It’s plain as day, a healthy workforce is better for the employees and better for the company.
The problem is it’s quite hard to get employees up and moving without descending into something truly obnoxious. You can’t really drag the whole office outside to the car park for a mandatory calisthenics session or just get rid of chairs on a whim. Equally, if you want to take employee wellbeing seriously, it’s not really an option to do nothing.
Instead of risking becoming the insufferable office health captain, start with marginal gains.
Don’t let it be strange for staff to stand up and move around the office to talk to each other or take a minute now and then to stretch their legs. It’s good for their heart, health, eyes and mind to take some time to walk around a couple of times an hour.
The right kind of stress is okay; employees care about the outcomes of their work and it’s natural for uncertainty to cause stress. The problem is when stress becomes extreme and goes unchecked, leading to serious health issues in the long run.
These schemes actually do work for getting employees into cycling to work. A bike ride into work improves fitness, helps with blood pressure, improves mood and with a programme organised through an employer could save employees money.
Offering to contribute towards gym memberships could help get your staff involved in more physical activity, as well as putting a little bit of money back in their pockets every month. Sound out local gyms to see if you can get a company rate.
Sitting down for prolonged periods has been linked to a huge host of health problems. While standing desks aren’t a silver bullet and have downsides of their own, it’s still worthwhile to give your employees a bit of flexibility to alternate from sitting and standing during the day.
Improved snack offerings
Typical office snacks like biscuits, cakes and muffins are high in simple carbohydrates, which is not just unhealthy but feeds into the post-lunch malaise when all that sugar gets expended. Keeping a ready supply of foods like fruit, nuts, cheese and oats in the office could improve health in the office and help stave of the 3pm slump at the same time.
Office sports teams
Find an office champion to organise a weekly tennis, 5 a side, running or cycling team. It would be a boost to overall employee health to get an hour of extra exercise every week while helping their team spirit.
Allow employees flexibility to take time during their day for some exercise, or even just some breathing room to get a shower after a lunch time jog.
Consider boosting engagement with health by gamifying and rewarding staff involvement. Depending on what’s appropriate for your office activity level and culture, you could hand out gift cards or vouchers for meeting weight loss targets, hitting personal bests, or exceeding targets for engagement with the gym.
Be aware that not every staff member is going to be able to jump into cardio tennis on their lunch, either through long-term health conditions or simple disinterest. Before you commit to introducing a health-oriented employee wellbeing initiative, be sure to sound out the mood of the room and be certain you’ve got a plan to make your ideas inclusive for the whole team.