But all too often, particularly in today’s ‘always on’ lifestyle, healthy habits are relegated to the back burner in order to fit everything else in. Which results in people breaking down and fitting less in, which results in health being pushed further down the list – effectively creating a vicious circle from which it’s difficult to escape.
As business owners or leaders, we have a responsibility to maintain our employees’ health and well-being. We can no longer turn a blind eye to health issues, such as obesity and mental health. Action is needed – and fortunately, a simple approach can be taken to address this.
Firstly, a management commitment to health and well-being needs to be communicated to your team. Your staff need to know that you care about these issues and care about them. Make it an agenda item at your next all staff meeting and promote a robust conversation to draw in different ideas on how to improve health in the workplace. Put health-related articles into your internal newsletters, or even just email links to health-related articles to your staff. Just raising the issue and keeping the discussion alive will help staff members to think about it and take their own steps towards a healthy lifestyle.
Once health has been raised as an issue, you can start to develop a program to implement. It’s important to appoint an appropriate person to take ownership of it – someone who has the time to ensure consistency in the program and someone who is keen on taking it up. The course of action you take is up to you and your team, but it could include any of the following ideas:
- Allow staff to do exercise during a set period of the work day
- Ensure staff get regular breaks throughout the day
- Encourage walking meetings or even standing meetings
- Undertake ergonomic training
- Put only healthy snack foods and drinks in the staff breakout
- Provide a healthy lunch once a week
- Set aside quiet rooms for meditation or afternoon power-naps
- Implement stand-up working spaces, or sit-stand desks
Some companies have added healthy competition to their health programs. One company broke up into teams that competed in a virtual relay race from Melbourne to Sydney with the number of kilometres run or walked per day adding to the tally! At the outset you will need to set up some metrics that will determine its success or failure – as with anything in business, if you can’t measure it, you won’t manage it!
Once a program has been implemented, it is important that it is regularly assessed to ensure that firstly, people are taking action, and secondly, that it is actually working. You need to engage with the staff to ensure that they feel it is worthwhile, and that they are benefiting from it. You also need to assess from a management perspective as to whether it is enhancing productivity or proving a distraction from the business’ primary objectives. It is critical to everyone’s success that the correct balance is found in implementing the program – what some see as an advantage may be a disadvantage for others.
The time of assessing the program is also a good time to make minor tweaks to ensure the staff stay engaged. The downsides of monotony and repetition even extend to something as exciting as a health and wellness program, and you need to ensure even that is kept fresh and vibrant. Simple things like changing days of certain activities, or introducing new fitness routines may be all that is required, but as long as something is changed.
By taking and implementing this program, we as business managers can be seen to be taking up our responsibilities towards our staff. As mentioned, a healthy workplace is a win for everyone. By implementing this, there’ll be no place like work.