Karl Henry: 10 ways to health-proof your company
A healthy business is a wealthy business
Corporate health and well-being has never been more popular, and more crucial to the health of the nation. I work with companies all around Ireland and in the UK on health programmes for their staff - everything from lectures to 5k runs. The workplace is somewhere we spend so much of our time, yet if it's not geared to health then it's somewhere that you are putting your health at risk. In today's column, I thought I would bring you 10 simple tips that you can use in your company to improve the health of your corporate environment:
1 Remove the vending machines or stock them healthily: Vending machines are often the go-to when staff are tired and hungry for a snack. What you put in these machines will directly affect your employees' wellbeing. Look for healthy snacks such as nuts and, in terms of fluid, go for water.
2 Reimagine the canteen: Canteens of old were full of high-calorie, low-nutrient meals, served with a side of chips. This is no longer good enough. Meals should be full of nutrients, colour and low glycemic carbs. Chips should be relegated to one day a week and salad bar options introduced. Combine this with informative posters and include calorie counts on menu boards.
3 Run regular initiatives and challenges: The best corporate well-being programmes have constant challenges to keep staff focused and motivated. Think Couch-to-5k or 5-a-side soccer. They not only help your staff to get healthy, but also to work as part of a team too, completing a task together and getting a reward from the company when they achieve that goal.
4 Away from desk: One of the simplest ways to improve employee health is to look at how they sit at their desk. Standing desks are becoming more popular, with desk converters making it simple and cheap to change your desk. Standing more during the day is actually crucial for your health and can make a big difference to your daily metabolic burn and help strengthen the muscles in the body too. Swiss balls are great ways to improve desk health too. Sitting on a Swiss ball helps your core to work throughout the day. I have also seen treadmill desks in Ireland, with clients clocking up 6-10 miles a day while working away at their computers.
5 Use the stairs: Where there is a lift, there is a stairs. Why not encourage your staff to use the stairs during the day? You will be amazed at how beneficial this can be. Using the stairs helps to work your muscles and your lungs and, while it may be tough in the beginning, it will get easier as you get fitter.
6 Invite guest speakers: One of the best ways to keep staff focused and motivated is to have experts in to talk to them on a regular basis. We all love to learn from others and often listen to others more than those directly around us. Monthly or bi monthly lectures can be a great way to improve the health of your staff.
7 Lead from the top: It is hard to motivate your employees if those at the top of the company aren't leading by example. For any wellbeing programme to work properly, everyone must take part, so make it visible that senior management are doing it too.
8 Find out what your staff want: It's hard to fulfill the needs of your staff if you don't know what it is they want. Using simple tools like Survey Monkey can be a great way of finding this out. Then you can ensure that whatever programme you are going to build will be successful as you are tailoring it to your employees' needs.
9 Make it fun: Boring health programmes lead to bored staff who won't listen or take it on board. Make it fun, make it rewarding, make it challenging, make it different, make it fresh.
10 Measure it: Above all, test the success of the programme by measuring some outcomes. It could be the number taking part or some component of the plan. Regardless, be sure to measure something!