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A Healthy And Full Life Can Start At Work

11/11/2015 01:04 EST | Updated 11/11/2016 05:12 EST
Diane Collins and Jordan Hollender via Getty Images
Young man exercising while colleagues work

Do you want to be healthy?

I'm on a mission that gets more and more inspired with each HR professional I speak with, each workplace I visit, and each benefits provider I meet.

I simply want to see Canadians be healthy. We, as a nation, are not.

At this point, if you are the people out there who love the gym, wake up and go walking, won't eat sugar because it's bad for you, and find time to shop local and eat healthy, feel free to stop reading.

If you are the rest of the world, read on. Take a few pointers, make a few changes, maybe keep this article pinned somewhere to check back and add a few more ideas as you start to FEEL better.

If you want to be healthy, and you work for a large corporation answer me this.

Do you use your benefits package?

I cannot tell you how often I meet people who don't get massages, which are often paid for by your benefits package. Or people who say "I wish I knew what I should be eating," and they have an extended program that would cover multiple sit down meetings with a Registered Dietitian.

Why ask someone in passing about a health question when you could sit down with a professional, for free, and get the information you need. An added bonus, is the professional gets paid as well, which helps support our local wellness professionals and our economy.

Here is another question for you. How do you sleep?

A bad night sleep affects your energy, your family life and your ability to learn and problem solve. If you want those things to improve then you've got to sleep. So what's keeping you up? Maybe its food related -- the sleep cycle is affected by vitamins and minerals. Remember that dietitian you can see for free? They could help sort it out. Perhaps you have some old pains that wake you up -- that massage might be the ticket. What about problems in life that are keeping you up at night? You probably have some help set up at work to deal with personal issues, mental health concerns, or simply coping with how hard life can get. The best part is, all of these things are waiting for you and they are confidential. You can get help, and no one needs to know.

I see a counselor regularly. I'm proud of it -- my mental health and dealing with emotions, fears, and concerns lets me sleep like a baby. It also allows me to interact with friends on a deeper level and improves all areas of my life.

Answer this next question for me. Do you want to improve your paycheque?

Most people don't put two and two together, but I've been on the other side of this. Your employer knows exactly how many days you've missed. They also know how much you cost the company in lost time and replacement costs. If you find yourself sick all the time, your raise means your boss has to pay more money to you when you don't come in, and they have to find your replacement.

If you want to get ahead at work, use your benefits program. The healthier and more energetic you are, the better your performance. If you miss a day, there are stats that show your employer could be paying three times as much for your job that day. Missing twenty days a year, costs your employer almost two months of wages for your job. Get healthy, get energetic, and your employer will see in no time that you are worth the raise. This is a big part of your performance review.

Last question goes out to the employers. Do you want to save money? Do these two things:

1. Reassess your benefits package. When did you buy into your program? Who is the provider? Are you relevant to your employees' needs and wants? Do you even know what they want? If you bring in your benefit company, or get a new one, they will answer those questions. I challenge employers all the time with this. Are you wasting your money just to have a benefit package in place, or do you have a plan? If you are spending, on average, around $7,000 annually to make someone happy, shouldn't they be happy? Do your employees have what they need? Could they get it with the same expenditure?

These questions are crucial for employers to ask themselves when evaluating their benefits provider and packages.

2. Educate your staff on what you are providing them. Have conversations about mental health and wellness, and make it a priority. Talk to your staff about simple things. Bring in healthy food and host days with subsidized meals from restaurants with healthy options.

Don't know where to start? Well let me introduce myself, and the new wave of Workplace Wellness Consultants.

Let's re-educate your staff on the concept of health with seminars. Once we love our bodies and care for them at a cellular level we can begin to understand the need to eat healthy and exercise. An educated staff member can tell you what they need in their benefits plan. Now you can spend that $7,000 on them with a purpose.

Let's focus on those who need help. No more weight loss competitions, that's not helping the staff that need it. Have an outside source talk to the staff that need guidance. Let them know what their benefits allow for, and how they can use a service that employers are already paying for.

Finally, let's take over the time your employees spend online. Simply put, we know there are times in the day that our office staff are on social media. It would be great if they were promoting your business right? Well, give them some healthy options and watch them praise you on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, garnering positive attention for your company while they feel empowered.

The workplace is the perfect starting point to make our nation healthy. All of the benefits and programs are there -- let's utilize them!

Happy, healthy, and full of life -- that's us Canada, and it starts at work. Work.

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