Business success is strongly tied to employee health. When employees are healthy, energetic, and happy, they tend to be more productive, they work better, and the company can thrive. As such, business owners need to look at creating a healthy work environment not just as something they do for the benefit of the employees, but for the benefit of the company as a whole. A lot of research and development goes into production-increasing tactics, costing both time and money, but the real key could simply be implementing best practices that will help employees stay healthy and in shape.
A positive impact can come with just a small amount of weight loss. For example, when employees are able to drop just 5 or 10 percent of their overall weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure can all see positive returns. Even for employees who weigh 200 pounds, this could mean dropping as little as 10 pounds. In fact, even one pound can help, as studies have said that the stress on a person's knees goes down by four pounds for every pound he or she loses.
This means that the changes in the workplace don't have to be drastic. Small changes can lead to minor weight loss of no more than 10 pounds, but the stress on the knees could drop by 40 pounds, blood pressure could fall, and the risk of heart disease could decrease.
Additionally, employees may be motivated by these small gains. Losing five pounds does not take long, but it can serve as a springboard for someone who really needs to drop 50 pounds. Trying to lose all 50 at once may be so daunting they never get started, but taking it in small, manageable pieces can make all the difference.
A Healthy Culture
The key is to focus on creating a healthy culture that employees buy into. Every little choice made during the day can be tied to better – or worse – overall health.
For instance, rather than just offering vending machines with chips and candy as snacks, employers may want to consider offering fruits and vegetables. If the workplace has a cafeteria, a salad bar and other healthy options should also be offered.
When doing this, it's important to offer variety and show that you're just as dedicated to healthy food as anything else. For example, offering one healthy snack and a dozen unhealthy options technically can help, but it doesn't create a healthy culture the same way that splitting things 50/50 will.
A Community Effort
Creating a culture is about more than just providing options, though. It's about getting everyone in. This helps employees motivate each other. That, in turn, really helps to craft a culture and is prevalent in the workplace, which naturally influences people to make healthy choices.
For example, some companies have had great success offering weight-loss competitions that are based around a percentage of a person's weight. The winner takes home a prize – often a monetary one – and gets recognition. This can push someone to really take it seriously. He or she may have been on the road to a five-pound loss, but knowing that there is an award at stake could push the person to lose 10 or 20 pounds instead. This also brings out the best in the competitive members of the workforce, who may be driven to win just for the sake of winning, tackling the challenge with excitement and determination.
For those not driven to competition, exercise classes and programs can still be helpful. Many people aren't motivated to work out on their own. Knowing that they can spend 30 to 60 minutes working out with other people, who help to keep each other accountable, makes a huge difference. It's harder to put off going to a workout class when you signed up with your coworkers than it is to put off that morning run by yourself.
Variety was noted above in relation to food choices, but it's important to remember how well it works in all areas. Walking trails around the facility may be more helpful for some than indoor treadmills. Some employees may be naturally motivated to work out, but they may need more help with healthy eating habits, quitting smoking, or finding a work-life balance. Some may want competition and community involvement, while others want to reach personal goals alone. Still others may be interested in information and newsletters about fitness levels, healthy habits, nutritional decisions, and the like. They may even start taking the information and these habits home with them, helping them stay healthy all around the clock, not just when they're at work.
The key, then, is to offer a variety of options to really create a healthy work environment for everyone. This can draw all employees into this new mindset, it can help them get – and stay – healthy, and the company will see an uptick in production and morale as a result.