Office life: Creating a healthy environment for your employees

People working in an office

Published: 1 May 2015

It's no secret that office jobs have gotten themselves a bad reputation when it comes to staying fit and healthy. A recent study showed that more than half of desk-bound employees believe they aren't getting enough physical activity. The research also showed that almost fifty per cent of the participants had gained weight since starting their desk jobs.1 As an employer, employee health is no doubt high on the list of your priorities and whilst things such as office safety are sure to come first, there's a lot to be said for supporting your team in their general fitness and wellbeing too. A healthy body of staff is likely to lead to greater levels of motivation and productivity, which is inarguably great news for your business. So what exactly can we do to keep our staff not just well, but fit and healthy too?

Provide free fruit and healthy snacks


GP Simon Rudland was quoted in the Simplyhealth newsletter saying, "Obesity is a problem that affects roughly a quarter of adults in the UK and evidence suggests that these numbers are still rising."2 With this in mind, encouraging employees to embrace a healthy diet and lifestyle has never been more pertinent. Never underestimate the power of a few freebies when it comes to persuading people to get on board with your thinking. If fruit has to be bought, it requires money and effort, which can be enough of a deterrent for many people not to bother at all. If it's there for the taking, however, it becomes much easier to incorporate into the daily diet.

Offer incentives for taking the stairs


Taking the stairs is a great way to keep a little activity incorporated into your day. However, with the convenient lift sitting as a staple member of many office buildings, it can be hard to muster the motivation to go for the more tasking option. In this case, why not provide a little extra reason for your employees to ditch the lift? When they get to the top of the stairs, perhaps they can grab their free fruit smoothie, or day pass to the gym.

Remove temptation

It's often the case that people eat food simply "because it's there", which is great when it comes to free fruit, but not so much if your office is littered with vending machines. Remove the temptation by getting rid of any overtly calorie-laden or sugar-filled snacks. Although there's potential for a hostile reception at first, your staff will thank you for it in the end.

Organise group exercise


As an employer you're in a great position to take the lead and organise group events. What better way to put this to use than to get an exercise session in the pipeline? An article written for the American College of Sports Medicine tells us that group exercise offers a variety of benefits, which include, "exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience."3 With the opportunity to encourage each other, and to be encouraged, it seems your employees will be more likely to keep up with regular exercise.

Create a light and airy environment


A study by the charity, Mental Health Research UK, revealed that, "one in ten people see no natural light at work, while 30 per cent get up before sunrise and return home after sunset during the winter months."4 The implications of this are serious to say the least; a lack of sunlight exposure can lead to symptoms associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder5. To counteract this, make sure you make the most of every daylight opportunity in your office. Keep blinds drawn and windows open when the weather permits. You could even consider investing in some natural light-simulating bulbs to keep your staff feeling happy and healthy.

With a few simple measures you can create a haven of health for your employees. Staff will be happier, more motivated and potentially less likely to leave your company. It seems, then, that there's really no reason at all not to jump on board. Here's a happy workforce and a thriving business.

Sources

1. http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=5%2f30%2f2013&siteid=cbpr&sc_cmp1=cb_pr760_&id=pr760&ed=12%2f31%2f2013

2. https://www.simplyhealth.co.uk/shcore/sh/content/pdfs/338390/insight_spring_2014.pdf

3. http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/01/20/benefits-of-group-exercise

4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10548482/Depression-risk-for-workers-starved-of-light.html

5. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

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