It’s no secret that the majority of people live a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, the World Health Organization has indicated that 60-85% of the world’s population is not getting enough physical activity during the day. Much of this can be attributed to the increased reliance on computers in a job setting. According to the Mayo Clinic’s report Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk, in a span of just 30 years the number of working adults with a low-activity job (typically a desk job) has increased from 20% to 60%. Studies have shown that regular exercise improves workplace productivity via alertness, mental wellness, and illness prevention. With this in mind, how can an employer increase employee productivity through fitness?
Lunch and Learns with Health Industry Experts
Never underestimate the power of a free lunch. Dieticians, Personal Trainers, and other industry experts are often willing to offer an employee information session for a nominal fee or the opportunity to promote their business. Encourage employees to attend by offering a healthy lunch and a beneficial break from their computer screens.
Form a partnership with a local gym to offer employees a discounted rate. Larger businesses may even offer to cover a portion of the gym membership in return for proof of attendance. Gym partnerships present as a benefit to employees and are often convenient due to the proximity to the place of work.
Internal Accountability Groups
Endorse the creation of accountability groups within the office setting, whether that’s a running group who participates in a group run every Wednesday at lunch or members of Weight Watchers who help one another stay on track. Not only does this encourage physical activity, but may promote team building and improve employee relationships.
Host a Fitness Challenge
Fitness challenges can be executed in a number of ways: adapting a free program from online and posting the updates in a common area, using inter-office communication systems to create a group, or through an online application like Daily Endorphin. You can either offer the winner a prize-- such as an extra vacation day, or a free lunch-- or make an offering to anyone who participates. Again, this form of promotion offers both health and team-building opportunities.
Pay for Event Registration
Offer to cover registration for a charitable race that benefits a cause near and dear to your heart. This creates a trifecta of benefits: free fitness for the employees, a positive image for the business, and charitable assistance to the community. A similar option is to pay the registration fees for an office sports team. A caveat here is guaranteeing continued participation after the initial enthusiasm wears off.
Many offices are still home to vending machines full of chips, soda, and chocolate bars. Though sometimes it’s nice to help oneself to an afternoon treat, people are more likely to overindulge if the treats are staring at them every time they walk to the printer. Do everyone a favor and remove the temptation. Better yet, replace the unhealthy options with an array of healthy snacks available at cost. Surely someone’s child will be peddling chocolate bars to raise money for a class trip at some point.
The options for encouraging healthy lifestyle choices are endless, as are the benefits to the employee, the employer, and society as a whole.