Workplace Culture: Empowering Healthy Bodies and Minds
27 August 2018
We all know the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. In addition to helping you look better, eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly also makes you feel a lot better – clearing the mind, reducing stress, building stamina, and making you feel more energetic throughout the day.
And while we may spend a significant amount of time at work, most people don’t look to their workplaces for inspiration on how to be healthier or happier. If anything, people see work as a barrier to health and wellbeing, with all its stress and time spent sitting at a desk every day.
Yet, there are fantastic opportunities for business owners and managers to do more to inspire health and well-being in the workplace. All it takes is a little dedication and creativity, combined with some clever internal marketing, and a slight cultural shift.
A Guide to Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace (published by the ACT government) cites a study by Medibank Private which revealed that healthy people:
- Take an average 2 days’ sick leave per year (compared to 18 days for those who are self-proclaimed “unhealthy people”)
- Give themselves a self-rated performance of 8.5 out of 10 (compared to 3.7)
- Achieve 143 effective hours when working full time each month (compared to 49 hours)
- Actively manage their stress levels
The study also found that organisations that implement health promotion strategies can reduce workers’ health risk factors by up to 56%.
These are strong figures, and important indicators of what can be achieved by implementing positive workplace health and wellbeing practices. Given the benefits, both for employees and the organisation, the question isn’t really why make a change, but how do we make a change?
A Cultural Shift
When we decided to shift our culture to promote health and wellbeing at HorizonOne, we looked for ways that we could empower our team without forcing anything on them.
After a few weeks of consultation, we decided to:
- Offer a $500 yearly allowance that could be used towards a gym membership, exercise classes, or another healthy endeavour.
- Add a $500 yearly contribution per staff member towards our health program, including healthy snacks delivered to the office, and fun physical team-building activities.
- Negotiate a corporate membership rate at a local gym.
- Give management of the health program to our Culture Club.
Recruitment can be a stressful industry, so finding positive ways to relieve that stress while improving health and wellbeing is important to us. And it was great to be able to make these changes and show our staff that we absolutely do care about their health.
Not all employees take us up on the allowance, or eat the healthy food in the kitchen, or join in the activities. And that’s completely fine. The point is that we’ve made it available, and shifted our internal culture to align with the values we feel are important.
Making a change can take time, but it’s also a great opportunity to energise and inspire staff while seeking innovative ways to engage with your team. For example, we’ve been go-kart racing, played bubble soccer, gone to paintball skirmish, and had so much fun while getting outside and being active. It’s not strenuous, and not everyone participates, but everyone does know that the opportunity is there for them.
ACT Health has a “Healthy Workers” initiative that may help in starting a healthy workplace initiative in your organisation, or you could start by talking to your team about what they would like to see at work, and how they believe you could do more to support them.
It may not happen overnight, but before long you could develop a reputation as a fun and unique place to work – one that truly cares for employees and helps them be the best they can be, both inside and out.