Want A Healthier Workplace? Ask For These Changes (August 2018)
Frustrated by the eight hours you spend in a cubicle every day? Wishing you could find more ways to be active and healthy at work? Fortunately, the way we work is changing and your boss may be more receptive than ever to your ideas for promoting wellness in the workplace. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Love your job but wish you didn’t have to be chained to your desk eight hours a day? You might be in luck. Many companies are now allowing employees to work from home and/or to adopt flexible schedules.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you receive benefits such as health insurance coverage, any changes may impact an employee’s eligibility. Your employer will likely take this into consideration when determining whether flexible work arrangements are an option.
Sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your body. When you think about maintaining that same hunched over position all day, it’s no wonder we feel stiff and drained by the time we head home. There are some ways we can counter the effects, however.
• Stretching at Desk – Even if it’s just little printouts that are hung on the wall in each person’s work area, reminding everyone to stand up and stretch periodically can be effective.
• Variable Height Desks – Instead of sitting all day, as the name suggests, these desks allow users to change the height of their desks so that they may alternate between standing and being seated while they get their work done.
• Balance Ball Seats – Swapping out a cushy, swivel chair for a balance ball can take some getting used to but your core muscles will be activated all day!
You probably won’t be able to convince your boss to let you workout for two hours every day, but there are some other ways that your workplace can promote physical fitness.
• Midday Yoga – Some businesses are offering yoga classes during the lunch hour to promote wellness. Contact local studios as they may have teachers who would be willing to lead these classes. Ask what they would need in terms of space, equipment and compensation and include this information in your proposal.
• Walking/Running Groups – Try to coordinate groups of employees who want to walk or run together before work or during their lunch break. You can incorporate challenges and your office may even sponsor teams who want to participate in local races and marathons.
• Weight Management and Smoking Cessation – Employees who want to maintain a healthy weight and/or quit smoking could benefit from having an on-site group that provides tips and support as they reach their goals.
• Chair Massage – Many massage therapists are offering chair massage services and can be booked on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Employees can sign up and pay in advance for short sessions in order to streamline the process.
Better Food Options
Even if there are no in-house dining options, most workplaces have a break room. Usually, this includes a vending machine and, perhaps, a hot drink station. There are some ways to modify these options to support a healthier workforce.
• Better Snacks – Whether for purchase or as an added perk for employees, healthier snack options do exist. Alongside the traditional chips and candy bars, items that contain little or no sugar, for example, might be a welcome addition.
• Farmer’s Market – During the farming season, employers can invite growers for a small, weekly marketplace where staff can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. As an added incentive, you might remind your boss that buying local helps boost the economy.
• Community Garden – If you have enough space, your workplace could create their own community garden. Employees can share the responsibility of maintaining the plants. Research has shown that gardening can help boost moods and decrease stress.
Even if it’s something that means a lot to you, it can be intimidating to approach management with a major request. Frame your suggestions by explaining that you care about your workplace and that investing in healthy, happy employees is good for business overall.
Be prepared to provide information about any costs associated with your proposals and offer to spearhead the project. With some finesse and a little luck, you could be having lunch on a yoga mat in the near future.
By Jeanne Croteau, as published in Forbes on 31st July 2018