Obesity is on the rise. We are sitting longer and walking less. And we are getting fatter.
After analyzing national statistics from between 1985 and 2007, the researchers found that vehicle use (measured in annual vehicle miles traveled) correlated approximately 99% with annual obesity rates. The more we sit around doing nothing in our cars, the fatter we get.
I think he could just say – “The more we sit, the fatter we get.” whether in a car or all day in front of our computer screens. If we are getting fatter, we’ll be getting tired more quickly, and we’ll be taking more sick days. We’ll be using the company’s health and benefits plan more frequently. What can a company do about it? I liked the “Bike to Work Day” idea mentioned in the article, but there are many more ideas you can try to get a health and wellness mindset at work.
Many large organizations have health and wellness initiatives to get and keep their employees healthy. The Hamilton Healthy Workplaces program was an initiative to help bring fitness to the workplace including small and medium businesses, so check with local municipal and community centres for support and ideas. Sandra Barrett, Human Resources Manager, for ILR Industries, a small company of 55 employees, took advantage of the Hamilton Healthy Workplaces program and she implemented some ideas that didn’t cost a lot but had a big pay off with a healthy, and productive workplace. Employees will be happy that the organization cares enough to implement a health and wellness initiative at work.
Tips for Promoting a Health & Wellness Mindset @ Work
Start a series of lunch and learns. There are many organizations that will come out to your site for free or for a small investment. Perhaps you have an employee on staff who is knowledgeable and can share their wisdom about health and wellness at work.
Develop a health and wellness library with books, CDs, and DVDs including links to You Tube videos. Employees can sign out and borrow the materials to try out and get started.
When providing on-the-spot recognition, include gift cards with a healthy theme – massage for stress management, gift cards for a local sports store, pay for a number of fitness classes, a consult with a nutritionist, or provide an option to sign up for a smoking cessation program.
Search the web to share free resources and Health and Wellness Tips to your employees. Include the information in your employee newsletter, post links on your Intranet, or include the article in pay cheque envelopes. Perhaps an employee has a strong interest in this area. Assign this duty to them. They will love to be asked to research with permission!
Replace vending machine products with healthy choices. Juices instead of pop, healthy bars instead of chocolate bars, cheese and crackers instead of chips. If you can’t stop “cold turkey” then start by adding some healthy choices.
Provide pedometers to all your employees and encourage participation by starting a friendly competition – the winning individual and department to be rewarded with a healthy gift!
Implement an Employee Assistance Program at your work. There are many programs out there, some are included within the group health plans, and you can even “create your own” by researching free or low cost community services that employees can access when needed.
Ask a local fitness club to provide a “preferred discount” to your employees.
Start a walking or running club before or after work, or at lunch time.
Sponsor a local community sports team whether it is soccer, hockey, baseball or ballet.
That should get you started. But make sure to ASK your employees what is important to them. For example, don’t assume that your employees will want the company to sponsor a hockey team. Maybe they might want the company to sponsor a ballet recital or a local 5k run. Ask them what topics they would like included in the Lunch & Learn Series. Let your employees become part of the solution to bring a health and wellness mindset to the workplace.
And one final note, you can use some of these initiatives at home as well. When I was growing up, I lived in a small community. My friends and I walked or rode our bikes everywhere. During school breaks we were outside from morning to dusk. We experienced the freedom that isn’t always available to our children today. With technology and our fear of keeping our children safe, they’ve lost something that we had ample opportunity to become – we had the freedom to become naturally physically fit. In Halton, less than half of 12- to 14-year-olds are active in their free time. One-fifth of 5-year-olds are overweight in Halton. (Toronto Star January 7, 2010) There are stats out there suggesting our generation of children will be less fit, and have more health problems, such as heart disease, and osteoporosis, simply because we drive them to school, to their part-time jobs, and to their friend’s house. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? We think we are doing the right thing, but we might just be doing something that will have a very negative impact on their health in the future. So if you do decide to start a health and wellness revolution at work, make sure to start it at home as well.
What have you done in the workplace to promote health and wellness? Please share your comments.
Wishing you a happy, healthy & productive workplace and home, Joanne
Joanne Royce, Royce & Associates, HR & Training Solutions
Creating happy, healthy, and productive workplaces