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How Workplaces Can Incentivize Activity

10/22/2014 05:18 EDT | Updated 12/22/2014 05:59 EST
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This may come across as "preachy," but I've seen the inside of a lot of large businesses. More than 50 per cent of our population is overweight and obese. We die from things that the medical community has labeled "preventable," and our inability to be kind and considerate to those with mental health issues has caused outcries for help. We need to make a sharp turn in what health is to us. Our value needs to be on quality of life, and care for our bodies.

Presenteeism and Absenteeism. Two words that our rising in corporate culture. It's a multi-million dollar problem. The answer to the growing concern is in how we treat ourselves, and others at work.

Presenteeism is lost productivity from employees who are at work but due to sickness, mental health, or other issues are not as productive as they could be.

Absenteeism is productivity due to missing work all together. Reasons of illness, mental health, or personal issues.

We can see the effects on productivity with "absenteeism," you aren't there so you aren't doing your job. Presenteeism is a lot different. Solving presenteeism is a team effort started with a top-down corporate culture. Support and compassion needs to be demonstrated by all levels all the time. It's where change will begin.

At some point in our growth as a nation and as we have made our lives "better" with technology we missed something very important. Our interaction with eachother has decreased, as has our need to get our hands dirty. Our jobs have become simply "jobs," duties we perform because we have to. Our mental health, and physical health is suffering because we are rewarded for sitting at a desk and answering e-mails. That's positive reinforcement of unhealthy behaviors. We are at our jobs but not loving our jobs and excelling. In many cases, that means we are unsafe, potentially causing damage, and just generally working below our capabilities. That in essence is presenteeism, and it's costing us millions in lost revenue.

I've been finding a lot of success in my work with corporations at solving this problem. I dream of working with more workplaces to improve the wellness culture over a full year of seminars, interactions with staff, and idea sharing. With social media being such a phenomenal tool to spread positive vibes, there is no reason to see a decline in happiness at work, there should be growth and more interaction. You have the ability to literally change someones day with your phone. Text, Tweet, Instagram, e-mail, Facebook, you name it and you can instantly connect with anyone anywhere in the world to brighten their day.

This picture from my work to "Explore Manitoba with Birchwood Chevrolet" is a conversation starter

It's a conversation that needs to happen at more workplaces, and get rewarded. It's being active for activity's sake. Going out and being adventurous, doing something to make the body move, being happy in nature. It's being alive and being positive, taking that spirit back to the workplace.

Here are four initiatives from my One Fit City program to recharge the workplace.

The workplace Instagram/Twitter fitness challenge -- Monthly give away at work for the best social media posts about being active. Not just the gym, and not just the high intensity stuff. Reward walks in the park, as much as sweating in spin class. That walk does wonders for the mind, body, and spirit.

Positive interaction -- We are fortunate in Winnipeg to have a source of "Awesome" like 103.1 Virgin Radio. They are constantly inspiring people to laugh, love and dance. Positive people breeding positive community actions. One of my favorite DJs on the air is Pamela Roz, and she's started a movement called Positive Post It Day.

It's the continuation of a young student's work at her school. There is no reason more workplaces don't do this. Interact with your co-workers. It's ok to be happy and positive. You also never know how simply leaving a kind word might be just what your friend needed.

I strongly believe that kindness is underrated, and strength is gained in being honest. Our world is not what it used to be, our stresses and our obstacles in life can't be beaten with "hard work" like it used to be. I grew up in a small town. I've helped neighbors build barns, and I've worked to stack bails for family friends. I did it for a meal that night, great conversations and simply to help. What we have created with technology and our economy needs us to switch the way we support each other. Being brave now means talking, loving and being kind. Be brave, and starting on October 24, stick a post-it note on your co-workers desk. Let them know you care, it may help them more than you can ever imagine.

Workplace activity groups -- I've been personal training and changing corporate culture for a decade. I found one consistent thing. Starting the path to healthy living for most is blocked by fear. Starting activity groups, not bootcamps, is the best way to get the whole workplace involved. Walking, yoga and simple fun events are the starting point. One of the best programs I've ever seen came from National Leasing, they brought puppies for their people to play with outside. Almost 100 per cent of the population loves puppies, and will get out and get active when they show up. Try organizing that at your workplace. Have the local shelter bring over some walking buddies and take them out at lunch.

Nutrition -- Healthy food tastes great. Local is best. Simple recipes are imperative. I can not stress enough how important it is for workplaces to encourage nutrition. Provide solutions here if you are in charge of your corporation's wellness. Every preventable disease out there can be improved on with DIET and exercise. Imagine a workforce that had level blood sugar all day, complex carbohydrates for brain power, nutrients for hormone and brain function, and all the antioxidants for immune system function.

Set up a potluck at work, or bring in food in conjunction with a nutritionist and health food store. One of my friends and ex Pro Football player Obby Kahn has started this with his two businesses. His juice bar "Green Carrot" will help create options to fuel the workplace. The value in this product and service is invaluable. There is no replacing a nutrient filled, healthy, happy employee. Once an employee is shown that healthy food tastes good, and it's simple to make, they will put it in their life more often. It's breaking down that first wall. Let a professional help do it.

What we eat, and our lack of exercise is what is killing us these days. Let's completely change our lives by adding joy, positivity, and passion to our workday. Take it back old school with a post it note, or use that smart phone to revolutionize your workplace. What ever you do, start taking back joy and happiness in your day to day life. Be a support to someone who needs you. Lets acknowledge the link between healthy eating, movement, fun and being happy and productive at work.

It's not diets, it's not bootcamps. It's taking care of your body, eating local, and it's having fun again. Do something to make yourself smile.

I'd love your support, and add your voice to positive change @FitCityJordan on twitter. Let's talk and spread some happiness!

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