Office health check
What do we need to be productive in our work lives? We need the right tools which in a typical office setting would inevitable include a computer and phone, and the right personal qualities – skills, knowledge, motivation.
But none of these things matter a jot if we’re not healthy, and that’s why it’s so important for employers to place as much emphasis on their workforces wellbeing as they do on essential support systems that allow them to do their job.
A business that neglects the health of its employees will likely see a dip in the professionalism, energy, quality and positivity that can all otherwise be lead to a happy, healthy working environment.
Inactivity and poor diet are two areas that sorely need addressing in all areas of our life, not just at work. They are direct contributors to diabetes and obesity, avoidable diseases that The World Health Organisation says account for 36million deaths a year around the globe.
Inactivity – Sedentary behaviour now accounts for 60% of our waking hours according to guidance published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Prolonged periods of physical activity are linked to heightened risks of serious illness and premature death. Quite simply, sitting is killing us.
Standing up for phone calls offers a respite from both screen and seat, can give you added confidence as your speak thanks to your stronger stance, and improve the tone of your voice simply by straightening out your diaphragm.
Diet – It’s hard to remember after the lunchtime slump that sugary and fatty snacks are not going to do anything to improve your health, but chocolate bars and crisps are all too easily accessible thanks to vending machines. But these too are slowing evolving, with companies now providing healthy-only machines. Buying in fresh fruit each week also gives your employees a healthier alternative.
Taking your employees one (or six) steps further towards good health
1. Standing desks – A standing desk could completely change your workforce, but is obviously a big commitment. Models can be fixed or have the ability to move up and down, and you could test the water by purchasing one and inviting employees to take it in turns each day to see how they might be received.
2. Pedometer challenge – Lose the word “fitness” and add “challenge” and suddenly you’re appealing your wider organisation, rather than just those who are already quite fit. When health provider Healthy Performance conducted the challenge for Renault UK, the 80 employees who took part completed 50 million steps, the equivalent to 20,000 miles or more than 800 marathons in six weeks.
3. Buffet sale – Challenge your bakers to turn their hand at an interesting salad or tapas option for healthy alternative to a charity bake sale. Links to recipe blogs sent through internal communications will help get those culinary ideas flowing.
4. Lunchtime classes – If you have an area that’s suitable, getting a personal fitness trainer in for lunchtime Pilates or aerobics is a good way to get round the time restrictions that prevent your staff for fitting exercise into their busy day, and gives them a concrete excuse to escape the desk-bound lunch.
5. Meeting experiment – It’s all very well suggesting that your staff may want to stand at meetings, but old habits are hard to break. Try taking all the chairs out of meeting rooms for a trial period to take away the choice, ensuring any employees who are unable to stand for long periods of time are catered for before individual meetings.
6. Germs – Colds, coughs and minor illnesses are the biggest cause of sick days. For the most part, they’re inevitable, but exposure to avoidable germs doesn’t help. Keyboards are a hotbed, made worse by the fact that plenty of people choose to snack and lunch at their desk. Offering desk wipes alongside other stationary staples will encourage your employees to pay a bit more attention to the hygiene of their work station.