Making your Work Environment Healthier With These Healthy Ideas
The office, or place of work, is often overlooked as having a major influence on our habits, but it has to. If you work at a computer, just think about the amount of hours you sit down at it, without moving. And think about all the occasions when you ‘accidentally’ or mindlessly eat chocolate, cake or pizza – it’s often at work, when a celebration collides with our lack of assertion, meaning we say ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no’. Yet a healthy office doesn’t need to be a boring one – it can be a springboard to trigger healthier habits that shift us up a gear to start shifting serious pounds of fat.
What’s in it for Employers and Employees?
What do you think influences employee motivation, productivity and efficiency the most? Answer: their work environment. Employees are the best asset of every organisation, and the research shows that putting effort into employee wellness can encourage better teamwork, increased productivity, increase profitability, reduce staff turnover and reduce absenteeism and workplace accidents.
Did you know that unhealthy eating is linked with a 66 per cent increased risk of loss of productivity, according to a study published in the science journal, Population Health Management (read more here). This study was based on fairly robust sample of almost 20,000 Americans. Further findings showed that employees who exercise only occasionally were 50 per cent more likely to report having lower levels of productivity than employees who were regular exercisers.
We all know it – exercising more, eating properly, drinking more water, managing stress levels and having the support of your workplace makes a huge difference in how you perform at work. In fact, emotional health and wellbeing are now also being prioritised in some large tech companies like Google and Facebook (clever them; they know a healthy workforce boosts profitability).
But the real beauty of this is that a healthier workforce (and work environment) doesn’t just add zeros to a company’s profits, it also boosts personal happiness, longevity and takes a huge burden off our health service (plus reduces the cost of health insurance) – so it makes sense at a societal and economic level too! It’s a win-win!
16 Healthy Ideas to Integrate into your Working Day
- Start taking the stairs: did you know that just seven minutes of stair climbing a day can halve your risk of heart attack over 10 years? And that just two minutes extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain? Now That is highly motivating, isn’t it?
- Lunch-time yoga sessions: if space allows, hiring a teacher to come in and teach in the office or else attending a nearby class with colleagues during lunch is a wonderful way to add in some stretching exercise, and meditation, to your working day.
- Organise evening runs: it’s free and just involves adding just a bit of extra time to your working day, but it’s well worth it. Plus, it can be more effective, in terms of consistency, as most of us are lured in by the couch and the TV once we get home, and it’s hard to head out again to exercise.
- Have ‘walking meetings’: Walk around the park for a brainstorm meeting! The research shows that walking meetings are particularly great when conflict resolution or negotiation is involved.
- Arrange talks by experts: for instance, inviting a doctor, nurse or other health professional into the offices to discuss health and wellbeing. We, ourselves, have successfully carried out Motivation company talks and have worked together with companies to offer staff discounts on our programmes – contact our head office in Sandyford if you are interested in discussing this further (01-2938020).
- Bring in equipment: if there’s a kitchen at work, and the noise won’t distract colleagues, you could bring in a blender for soup or healthy smoothies (remember to make them with almond milk and a small amount of orange juice rather than all oj as that’s too much sugar. Also add protein with seeds such as hemp).
- Do you have a fridge? The research backs us up on this one – bringing in your lunch will greatly enhance the chances of you sticking to a healthy diet because it’s in your control and it’s prepped and ready to go when you need it. If your company doesn’t have a fridge, or the one they have installed isn’t big enough, then ask for a new one. Those who don’t ask, don’t get!
- Ask for healthier meetings: if you find team meetings are always punctuated with a plate of pastries or unhealthy sambos, asked for healthier options, even if the budget only allows for vegetable crudités with hummus. Another great option is low-sugar protein bars.
- Work to develop a healthy workplace policy: this may entail a healthy catering policy and making some changes around that. I it’s intimidating to instigate change, get a few colleagues on board with you and bring it to management.
- Change vending machines: if they contain only sugary snacks and drinks, work to replace them with protein bars and water. This will drastically cut employees’ sugar intake (and will help stabilise those blood sugars!).
- Set up an employee sports team: it can be a fun way to socialise, outside of the pressures of work, and to meet staff from other companies across your industry.
- Consider cycling to work: or else, cycling part of the way.
- Offer weekly meditation classes: or, if there is no budget, then organise a ‘mindful moment’ of breathing before or after team meetings. You may feel crazy suggesting it, but your staff will notice an almost immediate boost to their wellbeing, and they’ll thank you for it!
- Encourage regular breaks: Suggest that staff take a walk and move their limbs while breaking.
- Start desk exercise: these are simple but effective resistance exercises that will help to maintain (or even build) muscle mass which, in turn, helps with weight management.
- Healthier company events/functions: offer a decent choice of non-alcoholic drinks at company events, and have healthier food options to hand so that making the healthier choice becomes the easier choice for staff.