As a leader, I’m always on a journey to find killer productivity tips. This isn’t just for me. It’s also the advice that I can pass along to others like my team and the awesome people reading this article. While undoubtedly helpful, much of the information I’ve come across relates to time and calendar management techniques. How can you use time and calendar management tech to encourage employees to prioritize health and wellness?
Calendar management techniques include everything from knowing what essential items to place on your calendar to how to eliminate distractions to prioritizing your responsibilities. But, one area the sometimes gets overlooked is the health and wellness of everyone involved with your organization.
Think about it for a second. If you feel like garbage because you’re stressed, tired, or sick, how on top of your game do you think you’ll be? Additionally, when you neglect your health, you may be prone to more accidents and injuries. And, you’re probably not the most pleasant person to be around.
In short, when you and your team focus on your health and wellness, you’ll not only be more productive, you’ll have less absenteeism and happier workplace. That’s also good for your bottom as the CDC reported that “productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States or $1,685 per employee.”
So, how can you motivate employees to be healthier? Here are 13 places to start.
1. Create an employee wellness program.
An employee wellness program is one that encourages healthy habits and creates a culture where health and wellness is a priority. But, before implementing such a program, you first need to build on that makes sense for your business.
Howie Jones wrote in an article for Calendar that the first step is to assess your needs. “You can use a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) to determine this. This is a questionnaire that reviews lifestyle practices like smoking and exercise,” explains Jones. “You could also conduct an interest survey and have your team rank what they would want the program to include.”
After that, you can design your program. You can start small, like offering gym memberships to your team, and then promote it to get everyone on-board. You should also consider teaming up with third parties, such as trainers and counselors, to provide professional advice and assistance. And don’t forget to evaluate the program to see what’s working and what’s not.
2. Promote preventive care.
Why wait until a problem happens to solve it? It just makes more sense to avoid any issues before they become a serious hurdle to overcome. And, this is particularly true when it comes to health.
For example, you could have a health professional visit your place of work to discuss the importance of health and wellness. They could also share ways for everyone to improve their health. You could bring in trainers to instruct your team, like having someone teach simple meditation techniques.
If you have the funds, arrange for on-site flu vaccinations. If not, then offer rebates for this. You could also look into incentives for health insurance. And make it known that when someone feels under the weather that they stay home.
3. Offer healthy lunches and snacks.
Most startups don’t have the budget to hire personal chef; you can whip up healthy and nutritious meals for you and your employees. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t help your team with making smarter eating decisions.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by having plenty of healthy snacks around the office. Best of all, companies like SnackNation is an affordable and convenient way to achieve this since they deliver snacks directly to your workplace.
Other options are:
- Having appliances, like a fridge and juicer, in the office so that employees can bring-in food instead of ordering out.
- Catering meetings and lunches with healthier options instead of donuts and pizza.
- Removing vending machines that sell soda and sugary or salty snacks.
- Providing a list of healthy dining out options in your proximity.
- Organizing a healthy recipe exchange program or potluck lunch.
4. Encourage exercise and movement.
12 hours. That’s the average amount of time a person sits per day. Living such a sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for your health. So, look for ways to get everyone in your office up and moving.
Here are some great ideas to get started:
- Hold more standing or walking meetings.
- Purchase gym memberships and trackers like Fitbit for your employees.
- Encourage employees to bike to work and take the stairs.
- Post a map of trails near the workplace.
- Host fitness challenges and competitions.
- Set aside a dedicated area of the office as a fitness center.
- Recommend to employees that they stand-up and stretch every hour.
5. Gamify healthier choices.
“Some people need a little more of a nudge than others,” writes Anna Johansson over on HuffPost. “If you discover that employees are engaged in unhealthy habits and aren’t exactly eager to escape them, you’ll have to make ‘living healthy’ more enticing,” such as gamifying the process.
“Most people thrive on competition and respond to tangible rewards,” adds Johansson. “Asking employees to get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week is one thing, but telling them that you’ll reward the individual who’s able to achieve the most consecutive days of exercise is another.” Develop both individual and team-based games and challenges “to get people motivated.”
6. Invest in new office equipment.
Remember that sedentary lifestyle? Another way to reduce this is by giving your employees standing desks. I’ve done this in my office — I’ve ever sent standing desks to some of my remote workers.
We use the SmartDesk2 from Autonomous. The price point is excellent. But, the desk comes with custom height presets. This makes it easier for your team to transition between their preferred sitting and standing positions.
7. Redesign the workplace.
Since you’re already upgraded your office with those swanky standing desks, you might as well keep going. For example, add more plants to the workplace. A 2017 report by the University of Twente, VU Amsterdam, and CBRE found that more plants on the work floor improved employee performance. Plants also made employees feel happier and healthier.
What’s more, according to the NASA Clean Air Study, indoor plants can trap air pollutants. This not only makes the area cleaner, but it also prevents the spreading of germs and viruses that can sideline your team.
Another option is to let in as much natural light as possible. Sunlight contains Vitamin D, which can use used to combat everything from depression to the flu. Additionally, studies have found that natural light increases employee energy. And, it assists with our natural circadian rhythm — which influences the quality of sleep we get each night.
8. Help employees curb vices.
You’ve already addressed topics like exercise and healthy eating. But, what about unhealthy habits like smoking? If you haven’t, the first place to begin is by instituting a smoke-free workplace. This means not allowing anyone to smoke on company property or even during business-related events. You could also encourage employees to join a quit smoking program.
Another unhealthy habit is drinking too much alcohol. You can reduce alcohol intake by not having any alcohol in the workplace or during company events. And, if you believe that someone is struggling with any type of substance abuse, please assist them in finding professional help sooner then later.
9. Establish flexible working arrangements.
Research out of Stanford University shows that flexible workers are more productive. They’re also happier, put in longer hours, and don’t get as sick. As if that weren’t enough, they’re not as stressed. That makes sense since this reduces micromanagement and allows people to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
10. Offer unlimited vacations and sabbaticals.
This is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, unlimited vacation policies are found at companies ranging from Netflix to GE. And, it’s easy to understand why. It allows them to attend to their wellness when the need is, provides opportunities to grow, and it makes them happy. It also reduces costs on your end and helps you reduce top talent.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that employees can disappear for half the year. Instead, it means that as long as people are meeting deadlines and goals, they don’t have to worry about a restricted amount of vacation days.
11. Provide volunteering days.
Plan for group volunteering opportunities or at least free days for team members to give back to the community. After all, volunteering can do wonders for your well-being. Research has found that volunteer work can improve happiness, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. It also gives people a greater sense of control over their lives and can even improve physical health.
12. Emphasize mental health and wellness.
On top of physical health, make sure that you assist your team with their mental health as well. You may not be able to see it, but when not addressed, this can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress. Eventually, this can lead to sleep deprivation, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
You can help your employees with this by granting them autonomy and not assigning them more tasks when they’re at full capacity. And, by not contacting them 24/7/365 — they need time away from work to rest and recharge.
Furthermore, you can offer counseling services to your employees. If that sounds like something that’s out of your budget, you may want to look into virtual therapy options or suggest that they download apps like Headspace.
13. Lead by example.
“You shouldn’t expect employees to automatically embrace fitness if you’re not willing to do the same,” Jason McCann writes in a piece for Forbes. “Set the example by taking part in as many health initiatives in the organization as possible. Or take the lead on a few new ones.” For example, McCann suggests joining “a walking club or something more dedicated like setting aside time during the workday for employees to exercise.”
Personally, I’ve done this with my business by launching a fitness challenge and sharing the results with my team. They’ve also seen me eating healthier lunches and hitting the gym more often.