What does a healthy workplace look or feel like?
In honour of Healthy Workplace Month, I want to encourage you to take a good look at your workplace. So, what does a healthy workplace look or feel like? It could include things like:
- The physical environment being set up to support movement, interaction, and activity.
- Bicycle storage and changing/showering facilities.
- Meeting spaces that are conducive to standing and stretching.
- Sit/stand workstations in offices.
- The social environment and workplace culture making employees feel valued and supported to pursue wellness inside and outside of work.
- Access to programs and activities onsite, nearby, and/or at discounted rates.
- Flexibility in schedules.
- Lunch or coffee time walking groups.
- Workplace wellness challenges and incentives.
Why is it important to foster and support employees to be healthy?
Healthier employees tend to display:
- Decreased absenteeism (sick time, injuries, recovery time, etc.).
- Improved productivity.
- Increased job satisfaction.
We know that, in theory, moving more and sitting less is better for you; however, today’s culture of convenience and constantly advancing technology has, in many cases, removed the need for physical movement at work and during leisure time. We literally only need to lift a finger (okay, maybe a few fingers) to connect with a colleague via email; that the colleague is sitting mere steps away rarely stops us from taking the “instant” route. We petition to have office printers moved closer to our desks in the name of increased efficiency and time savings when, in reality, we should be moving them further away to allow for more frequent breaks from sitting and staring at screens.
According to the latest Canadian Health Measures survey, approximately one in five Canadian adults are meeting the current physical activity guidelines. Considering over sixty percent of British Columbians are members of the workforce, and most workers are spending a great deal of their waking hours either at or getting to and from their jobs, doesn’t it just make sense to target the workplace when looking to increase physical activity and overall wellness?
Even those who are managing to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity outside of their working hours are not immune to the health risks associated with excess sitting while at work.
What can you do to help make your workplace healthier?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- The next time you organize or attend a meeting, why not either suggest a walking meeting?
- If a walking meeting isn’t possible, start the meeting off by giving (or seeking) permission for all attendees to feel free to stand, stretch, and/or move around the room as they feel the need. Many people don’t feel comfortable to do this for fear of appearing disrespectful or distracted, when in reality it will likely lead to improved attention and focus.
- Request or initiate wellness programs (check out ParticipACTION’s) and/or activities with your colleagues (i.e. walks during your breaks, organize or sign up for corporate recreation/sport teams or events, activity challenges, etc.). For extra fun and competition, open up your challenge to other workplaces.
Being active is usually far more fun with others, so don’t disregard the value of camaraderie and social support networks as you strive to make your workplace healthier. Having positive influences and relationships make going to work a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience, and I guarantee the benefits will extend far beyond your workday.
Send us photos of your workplace wellness activities; we’d love to see what makes your workplace a healthy one!
For inspiration to get going, check out this healthy activity ideas list from the Healthy Workplace Month website.