When you’re spending the better part of your week at work (read: 34-47 hours), your office environment plays a huge part in your general health and wellness. While workplace wellness is evolving, with some companies taking extreme measures like nap desks, housing rescue cats in the office and even mandating six hour work days for an entire country (trip to Sweden anyone?), many companies know it’s important to implement wellness initiatives but only have a dime to do so.
Wellness in the Workplace: The Classics
Implementing tried and true tactics for better health doesn't have to be costly. While early efforts created programs that focused on injury prevention and safety within the workplace, modern wellness programs are more holistic and focus on improving the overall lifestyle and health of employees.
Simple gestures like providing fresh fruit for employees once a week to stocking vending machines with nuts, dried fruits and protein bars instead of the usual sweet and salty suspects, are just some of the small steps many companies are taking to promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Some companies promote preventive care with smoking cessation programs (which can include nicotine replacements covered by health insurance, counseling services and even behavioral therapy) or offer reduced insurance premiums for non-smokers.
Subsidizing gym memberships, organizing lunch hour walking clubs and even competitive weight loss programs are a few popular ways that employers encourage exercise within their teams.
But the key to any successful wellbeing program in the office is sustainability and enjoyment—the program is only as good as its participants. If you can’t get your team engaged, than any wellness program will quickly lose its steam.
That’s why we’ve listed some more easy-to-implement initiatives that will help you get everyone excited about getting healthy:
Walk and Talk
Instead of your everyday lunch hour walking club, why not host a walking meeting instead? Everyone knows that meetings are the bane of productivity so why not make the most out of that time and get some fresh air while getting your steps in? It’s a nice alternative for those who prefer to spend their lunch hour on other things, and it also makes sure that everyone (at some point or another) will be up and moving throughout the day.
Walking is also said to stimulate creativity, which means your brainstorming session may bring better results as a walking meeting instead.
Lunch and Learn
Helping employees learn about healthy habits may not always find priority during the day, but squeezing in break-time seminars can be primetime opportunities. Recruit employees to bring in their best Meatless Monday dish (and share the recipe), cover tips on how to eat healthy during business travel, or even teach their own quick stress management skills.
After everyone has shared their own healthy lifestyle secrets, compile them and share with the office so that everyone has a copy on hand.
Raise to Race
If running a marathon is on your bucket list, what better way to train than with your co-workers? Get your boss to consider sponsoring entrance fees (or match your own contributions) to a race or obstacle course event by positioning it as a team building activity and wellness initiative all rolled up into one. Marathon too daunting but still want to reap the benefits of a good run? Join a running club instead to lessen the pressure.
De-Stress from Your Desk
Whether you’re cooped up in a cubicle or sitting openly in an open-concept office, sometimes you need a (private) place to decompress. Create a space where employees can go to vent, cry, throw a tantrum, give themselves a pep talk-as long as they can do it privately and not in front of their peers. Throw in a couch or comfy recliner and the space now doubles as a nap room.
Mental Health Matters
Instead of recruiting employees to share their best-kept health secrets, seek out professionals to come lead your lunch and learns. We all know that unmanaged stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, so bringing in professionals to offer advice on all aspects of our lives (think financial planner, nutritionist, life coach, chiropractor, massage therapist) reinforces the education side to wellbeing policies and lets employees know what kind of resources are actually out there.
Survey Employees for Engagement
No matter what kind of wellness program you propose, know that employee feedback is the key to finding one that sticks. You may have to try out small components of programs as a trial run first, which gives your team a chance to figure out what they like about it (or hate, if they’re a glass half empty personality). Leave suggestion boxes throughout the office, send out monthly surveys or hang idea boards for a more communal process—whatever fits your company culture.
While it would be nice to have unlimited funding for a five-star fitness facility, personal massage therapists available on-site and a Michelin star chef to cook your lunch, workplace wellness is something that money can’t buy (although it does help)—it needs to be built into the company’s culture first.
Most importantly, make sure your co-workers are aware of the wellness perks by consistently communicating about the programs and its benefits. Share during the staff meeting or ask for a blurb in the company newsletter, whatever channels are available for promotion. Let your team know you value your health, and theirs as well.
Ninjas, what practical no-fuss idea would work best in your office? If we missed an awesome idea, let us know in a comment below!