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January 28, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

5 Simple health hacks for wellness at work

HealthyofficeHow healthy is your office? If you’re reading this hunched over your computer, munching on a sugar-laden vending-machine snack and unsure of when you last took a break, you’re probably thinking not very.

While we all have our days when working through lunch and extra cups of coffee become necessary to hit deadlines, it definitely shouldn’t become a habit. When managers do this often, it can set an unreasonable precedent for employees who think they must do the same. Not only can this create a toxic work environment where employees put their physical health at risk, but it can also mean greater disengagement and dissatisfaction.

Creating a healthy office culture starts with the leaders of the organization. From simply being a good role model to proposing company-wide initiatives that encourage employees to be more healthy, there’s plenty of ways to transform a sedentary culture into one that embraces wellness while working.

Getting push-back from upper management members who think health initiatives could be a distraction from work? Here are three can’t-be-ignored reasons why healthfulness and work go hand-in-hand:

1.Company health: Healthy workers are more productive workers! If that’s not enough, consider how reduced doctor visits and hospitalizations will affect the cost of the company insurance policy next year.

2. Personal health: Employees want to feel like their employer truly cares about them. Health and wellness initiatives make a bold statement that personal well-being is a priority for the business. Loyalty will follow.

3. Teamwork: New programs can boost camaraderie and help co-workers get to know each other better. Health initiatives offer a creative, fun way to encourage teamwork and a healthier lifestyle.

Convinced? Now take action. Consider these five super-simple hacks for creating a healthier office culture:

The LinkUp Fitbit challenge is healthy competition at it’s best!

Create an office challenge
At LinkUp we just started a new activity challenge that’s really got everyone motivated. We’ve split into two teams and whichever team gets the most cumulative steps by the end of the week has to buy the other team lunch. This would be an easy initiative for any office to do; simply get pedometers and start keeping track! We are only half way done and nearly half-a-million steps have been logged. Go team LinkUp!

Transform the break room
Vending machines are an office staple, but it’s important to offer a variety of healthy options so people have the opportunity to snack wisely. Contact the vending-machine provider if your selection needs a refresh. Better yet, provide healthy snacks at no cost to employees. Foods like nuts, whole-grain crackers or dried fruit make great options. Consider offering decaf coffee and caffeine-free tea, too.

Encourage biking to work
In Minneapolis, we love to bike; yes, even in the cold weather. In fact, the city is rated as the #1 biking city by Bicycling.com, thanks to 118 miles of on-street bikeways and 92 miles of off-street bikeways. But no matter where your company is located, you can encourage biking by adding bike storage racks and designating closet space for biking gear. You might even start a biking club for group rides after work!

Promote healthy activities on breaks
Breaks are important because they allow you to decompress, plus they give the body a break from being behind a screen. Get a group together to go shoot hoops once a week. Or, start a 10 a.m. walking club where people gather to walk outside for 15 minutes. Is an employee a certified yoga teacher? See if he or she will lead an intro class, and if there is enough interest, consider making it a regular occurrence.

Look closely at the environment
It’s not just physical activities that benefit employee health, of course. The work environment itself can be a positive influence. First, make sure employees use an ergonomically correct office space. Add some fresh plants, touches of color and as much natural light as possible. Finally, ask employees what they need to feel healthy at work. Their answers will likely include simple things, like a new chair or keyboard, but these just may have a dramatic impact on their long-term well-being.