Top 5 ways to promote a healthy workforce

An inactive lifestyle can lead to productivity problems in the workplace. Managers must take action to galvanise employees into forming healthy habits

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Companies can encourage employees to exercise by providing corporate gym memberships. Healthy workforces are known to be happier and more productive

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle. Physical inactivity can result in a number of health complications, like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. Add to this an increased risk of back and neck pain, and you’ll see why we all need to do our best to keep fit.

However, as recent reports have revealed, this is no simple task. One study revealed 45 percent of the UK’s workforce spends less than 10 minutes of their workday moving around. It isn’t difficult to see why, either: the average workday runs for seven and a half hours, and the majority of people will want to find the most comfortable way to spend their day. When you consider their journey to work too, it can become difficult to avoid sitting for extended periods.

A healthy workforce is a productive one, as healthy workers take less time off which can make a big difference to your business’ revenues. Here are five ways you can encourage an active lifestyle in the workplace.

Help your workers pursue a healthy diet
A balanced diet is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Just as you need the correct fuel to power your car, your body needs the correct foods to work optimally. Poor nutrition increases the risks of disease and fatigue, negatively impacting worker productivity.

A healthy workforce is a productive one, as healthy workers take less time off, which can make a big difference to your company’s revenues

In the workplace, we can’t always make the healthiest meal choices. When we’re dealing with a full schedule it’s even harder, and it’s all too easy to be enticed by the speed and comfort of fast food.

Employers can counter this by making it easier for their workers to eat well. If you have a vending machine on your premises, have an audit of the foods sold. If they’re unhealthy, think about exchanging these for more nutritious options. The same can be applied to a staff canteen, where you could think about subsidising healthier foods.

Smarter working policies
In a PowWowNow survey of British office workers, over a third of the respondents indicated they would go to the gym more, or increase the amount of exercise they did if they were able to work flexibly or remotely. It isn’t hard to figure out why: after we’re done working, commuting and satisfying our personal commitments, many either do not have time, or are too tired to exercise. Further, given that gyms are often the busiest after work, it can be off-putting to find the additional strength to clamour for equipment with everyone else.

Smarter working policies, be this remote or flexible working, will allow employees to find more time to keep fit. They will have more energy due to no longer having to commute every day and they will have time to keep fit, leading to higher productivity.

Make the most of your office space
If your employees spend most of their day sitting down, then it’s vital you look for ways to get them to move around. However, this doesn’t mean you need go for company-wide runs or hold aerobic sessions in the boardroom. Smaller, incremental changes will go a long way to helping your employees live healthier lifestyles.

Take a look at the locations of your bins and printers. If they are easily accessible from your employees’ desks, then consider clustering them in a central location, as this will help to incentivise staff members into getting up and walking around. Additionally, this will encourage your workforce to speak to their colleagues in person, not only helping them to keep healthy, but also creating a more connected and happier workforce.

Provide gym memberships
An effective way to encourage employees to exercise is to provide corporate memberships to local gyms. Memberships can be expensive for individuals, so by helping your workers save will be an extra incentive for them to utilise the gym and exercise regularly.

Get in contact with your local gym and let them know you’d refer your workers should they provide a reduction in fees.

Provide shower facilities
A good portion of the damage that comes with being physically inactive can be reversed with exercise. However, no matter how great your desire to exercise is, it will be impossible to do so without appropriate facilities – no one wants to feel sweaty at work, so a lack of showers could prevent your workers from jogging or cycling into the office.

Having the required amenities will greatly increase the chances that your employees will exercise. Make sure your office has the correct number of changing facilities, lockers and showers to support a healthy and active lifestyle. You could also look at starting a cycle-to-work scheme – not only will this help your employees keep healthy, but it will help the environment by reducing the number of cars on the road as well.

Business leaders have a moral obligation to look after workers. However, beyond this, there’s a business case to do so, as healthy workers are proven to be more productive. There are a number of different approaches out there, so don’t be scared to explore and see which one is best for you. By doing so, you’ll soon be feeling the benefits of a healthier workforce.