Encouraging your employees to engage in health and wellness activities isn’t just the right thing to do — it makes good business sense. A healthy workforce typically means higher-performing, more satisfied staffers (and lower turnover), fewer absences due to sickness or non-work-related stress, and a favorable reputation as a company that cares about its people.
While you could opt to implement a fee-based wellness program, if your budget is tight, you can also follow these suggestions to promote employee health for little or no cost.
Provide resources that keep health and wellness on everyone’s radar.
- Publish an employee health newsletter or include a regular “Health First” section in your existing newsletter, containing tips about exercise, eating right, healthy work habits, etc.
- Set up a message board in the break room or another employee gathering area. Offer tips on work-related health topics, such as the proper way to lift heavy objects. Leave space on the message board for employees to offer their own ideas and suggestions.
- Devote a small area to health education resources (brochures, booklets, videos, etc.), which employees can use as a lending library. (They could also donate materials.)
- Place informational signs throughout the office with reminders about ways to improve health and wellness. These signs can highlight the value of, say, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and eating low-calorie snacks at break time.
Incorporate health education into your daily operations.
- Include health and wellness items on every meeting agenda. At the meetings, encourage employees to talk about what they’re doing to take care of themselves, such as taking a “good food” cooking class, enrolling in a smoking cessation program, or training for a half marathon. Take a moment to applaud workers who have achieved health and wellness milestones.
- Invite guest speakers to a monthly employee health meeting. Many volunteer organizations and local businesses (such as restaurants, gyms, and health food stores) will provide knowledgeable speakers in exchange for some free publicity.
- Include a five-minute time-out during meetings when people can stand up and stretch their limbs. Or try walking meetings, which can be particularly helpful for brainstorming.
- Emphasize your company’s commitment to wellness at each new-employee orientation. This will change people’s thinking and foster a company culture that prioritizes healthy behaviors.
Set a good example by taking care of your own health and well-being — and promote employee activities.
- Sponsor a “Stay Healthy Contest” that rewards employees for reaching weight loss or exercise goals. A little friendly competition keeps everyone thinking about how to take better care of themselves, and everyone loves free movie tickets or a gift card.
- Schedule employee breaks throughout the day. Ask people to take a break from their computers and/or get some fresh air.
Consider what else you can do to support employee health and well-being.
- There’s probably an employee on your team who’s really into healthy living. Ask him or her to serve as a volunteer wellness coordinator who provides a daily tip via email and/or who contributes to the employee newsletter.
- If there are vending machines in your workplace, ask their operators to replace soda, candy, and cookies with healthier snacks, such as granola bars, dried fruits, sparkling water, and other “good food” options.
Finally, check in with your staff. Ask about their efforts to stay healthy. Knowing that you share concern for their well-being is likely to make the topic more important to them.
How do you encourage healthful behaviors at your company? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the Comments section below.