Two primary reasons people do not exercise are lack of time and not having access to facilities. Businesses can help make this easy be enabling wellness start in the workplace, and by making participation easy. Here's how you can benefit, and get a program started in your workplace.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine states that two primary reasons people do not exercise are lack of time and not having access to facilities. There is a better understanding now by business owners and management that healthier employees enjoy better morale, productivity, and that they can save money on healthcare. In light of the fact that employees spend so many hours in the workplace, many employers are taking on the task of encouraging their staff to practice healthier habits. When companies offer health improvement programs, employees benefit from better health and well-being as well as camaraderie by participating with co-workers.
Wellness Starts in the Workplace
Sadly, some employers are hesitant to invest in such wellness programs. And in workplaces where programs are offered, not all employees participate. Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM), celebrated throughout May, was created to help employers and employees strategize on how and what to do to get started. It’s a good time for employers to incentivize workers to participate in existing health programs or for workers to start their own programs and solicit help from their employers.
Make Participation Easy
Lack of time and convenience are typically seen as deterrents to practicing healthy behaviors. Getting people motivated is another factor; some individuals are just not likely to participate on their own. They may feel more comfortable if they have the support of their colleagues. A way to address both issues could include offering a program as simple as walking during the workday. Participants would not have to travel and could walk with colleagues who have the same work and health goals.
Wellness Programs Benefit the Company Too
As in any wellness program, there are multiple physical and mental health benefits. As reported in a 2016 Harvard study, employees suffer from on-the-job stress to the extent that it negatively affects their lives—in and out of the workplace. Yearly costs to businesses for absenteeism (that can be related to stress) run in the billions, yet half of all workers do not have workplace wellness programs. Exercise and other healthy habits help to manage stress levels, keeping employees well and driving down healthcare costs for employees and the company.
Employee satisfaction also plays a big role in the success of a company. When wellness programs are offered, employees report feeling that their company cares about them and their well-being. The bottom line is that happy employees are more productive. It becomes more than a job; it becomes a partnership.
Get a Program Started in Your Workplace
The easiest, most cost-effective activities are walking and stretching programs. For GEHFM, giving participants t-shirts, water bottles or digital fitness trackers can add health incentives. Holding health fairs, providing healthy snack samples and activity contests can be fun ways to attract participants. However, as Dr. Sears points out, “Unless upper management is doing the same program, you are off to a wrong start.” Setting an example for and demonstrating solidarity with employees should be a primary goal of supervisors, department heads and even CEOs.
Get Inspired to Work Healthier
Many companies have had success with employee wellness programs. Here are 4 proven ways to jumpstart your own program and have fun:
- Inform – Hold a wellness expo. Activities can range from drop-in talks and demonstrations given by local speakers about health and nutrition to interactive activities such as stretch breaks, chair
exercises, screenings and scheduled group walks.
- Challenge – Set goals for employees to strive for. Challenge them to walk and track a certain number of steps each week over a given timeframe. Finding a way for participants to submit and see each other’s progress will create accountability and a friendly competition among them.
- Rally – Make wellness a group activity. For example, May is “Bike to Work” month. Co-workers can team up and combine biking miles to compete with other groups. All groups reaching a certain goal can be entered in a raffle for prizes. This can also be done with walking, crunches or planks.
- Reward – Let’s face it: incentives are fun. Sure, better health is reward enough. But, the more fun and social the activities are, and the better the incentives and reward, the more participation your program will get. All the better when the rewards are health related!
Working healthier can mean living healthier for all. So get to work!