4 Essential Steps To Creating a Healthier Workplace

We’ve all seen the headline “Sitting Is the New Smoking.” Last year, the Los Angeles Times published an interview with Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, in which he declared that the bad habits of many working-age adults – including sitting for hours at a time behind computer screens – were causing irreversible damage, equivalent to losing “two hours of life for every hour we sit.”

If that report had you leaping out of your chair and running a few laps around the office, you might have been left wondering what your company can do to promote wellness at work and protect you and your co-workers from becoming a statistic in yet another “Your Job Is Ruining Your Body” report.

In a world where employees are “on call” at all times, and high productivity is non negotiable, it is imperative that workers feel that their health is not being compromised by their ever-demanding careers.  Below, we’ve compiled four key tips for companies to increase fitness and overall well-being for employees. These suggestions are designed to optimize the health and happiness of workers, with the knowledge that a more satisfied workforce will ultimately lead to a more successful company.


1) Financial Incentives for Better Lifestyle Choices

Earlier this year, federal regulators decided that it was legal for employers to offer financial incentives to employees who participate in workplace wellness programs, such as those that encourage them to quit smoking, lose weight or become more physically active. An easy way to implement an incentive-based program is through step-tracking devices, such as Fitbits, Whoops, and Apple Watches. The American Heart Association and Surgeon General have recommended 10,000 steps a day to improve health, decrease the risk of disease and live a longer life. An office challenge to see who can log the most steps in a month will inevitably drive some friendly competition between co-workers, with the added bonus of getting your employees moving in the process (and maybe winning an extra vacation day).


2) Increased Resources for More Exercise

As an employer, it’s important to recognize that there are employees who view their health as a personal matter, and might be just as serious about getting into shape as those who participate in wellness-incentive programs, but won’t feel comfortable participating in an office-wide activity. With these workers, it’s essential that they are also provided with the resources needed to improve their fitness. For those who want to focus on less time sitting behind a desk, a standing workstation can make all the difference. According to Smithsonian magazine, studies have shown that even if you regularly exercise, you can’t negate the harmful effects of sitting for hours at a time in the office. Standing behind a desk instead of sitting during the workday can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Additionally, some companies are turning conference rooms into workout rooms with bikes and treadmills providing workers with more ways to get moving throughout the day.


3) Better Nutrition

When late afternoon hunger pangs strike, your employees are going to grab whatever they see in the break room – usually snacks and drinks that are high in sugar and fat – and while donuts and sodas might prevent them from crashing before the end of the day, that junk is wreaking havoc on their health. As Inc. reminds employers: You have the power to replace sugary beverages with juices and water, and ensure that vending machines have options such as nuts and dried fruit. If your company offers healthier options, your employees will be able to make better choices. Companies like NatureBox, which offers a convenient and affordable corporate snack delivery service, can help with this.


4) More Art in the Workplace

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have suggested that people who are exposed to more art and nature experience a boost to their immune systems that may reduce their risk of heart attacks, diabetes, and even depression. The simple addition of artwork to an office can improve the mood of employees and create an environment where workers feel calm and creative. Since it’s unfortunately not always possible to get outside during work hours to soak up nature, a photo or painting of the outdoors can cause a similarly beneficial impact while inspiring more enthusiasm amongst employees.


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