Often during this time of year the New Year's resolutions we long forgot about start creeping back into our thoughts. Many feel the sudden urge to eat better and go explore the outdoors. If you are one of these people, it's time to get your workplace on board, too!
If your work environment isn't conducive to your healthy living goals, it can really derail your efforts. For example, Christmas time at some offices can be especially daunting for those trying to eat well. Having appealing, unhealthy foods around all the time can make it difficult for even the most strong-willed person to consistently make good choices.
"For every dollar spent on workplace health promotion programs, more than triple the savings were observed in medical costs."
Take Google, for example. The search giant provides its employees with unlimited access to free food. This "perk" resulted in many new employees gaining 15 pounds or more. But small changes — or "nudges" as we like to call them — can make a big difference. Merely moving the M&Ms to a less visible location resulted in New York Google employees cutting 3.1 million calories worth out of their diets in seven weeks.
Want to get your boss on board with a workplace wellness initiative? Here is some ammo:
- According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, for every dollar spent on workplace health promotion programs, more than triple the savings were observed in medical costs.
- In a report by the Health Communication Unit at the Centre For Health Promotion at the University of Toronto, a Canadian company reported $7 in savings for every $1 invested in health-related programs.
- The same report found that health promotion programs in the workplace — including ones that create healthy eating environments — have been shown to increase employee productivity, reduce sick leaves and improve employee retention.
- A systematic review done in 2010 concluded that obese employees are more likely to take long-term sick and disability leaves.
- Finally, employees that eat healthy have fewer chronic diseases and ultimately incur less benefit-related costs. Plus, they retire later.
Now that your boss is convinced that a workplace wellness initiative is worth supporting, here are some steps to get you and your colleagues on the path to better health:
1. Call a meeting
Call a separate meeting to discuss this topic at your workplace or dedicate at least 20 to 30 minutes to it on your next staff meeting agenda. Be positive and excited — your enthusiasm is sure to be infectious.
2. Appoint at least two workplace wellness champions
If you have a larger workplace, consider appointing a champion in each department. Or, designate a keen wellness coordinator and work it into their job description.
3. Get the champions to plan wellness-related activities
Here are some ideas:
- Do yoga at lunch once per week.
- Plan a lunch club: once a month, plan to have a nutritious staff lunch. Rotate who's in charge of bringing lunch or have everyone contribute something.
- Make half your meetings in the month walking meetings.
- Plan five to 10 minute stretch breaks every hour or two. Ensure longer meetings and conferences have planned stretch breaks, too
- Support mental health: encourage employees to de-stress with a relaxing activity once a day for five to 10 minutes (e.g., colouring, writing in a journal, meditating, etc.). Even a short break will leave you feeling rejuvenated.
- Find a caterer that offers healthy food choices if food is provided.
- Have lunch and learns twice a month on various wellness related topics. Bring in some interesting experts!
- Create a healthy living challenge and get some prizes to build excitement (but don't focus your challenge around weight).
4. Give workplace wellness a permanent spot on your staff meeting agenda
At each staff meeting, discuss how your workplace wellness initiative is going, address any challenges, and brainstorm new ideas for activities or challenges.
Starting a wellness initiative at your workplace can also help you form closer friendships with colleagues. Share your successes and struggles with each other and problem solve together. So, what are you waiting for? Get started this week and get on the path to your best self!
What does you office do to promote workplace wellness? Let us know in the comments below.
Also on HuffPost