Making healthy lifestyle choices in the modern working world
The world is moving fast and sometimes it feels like if you don’t move fast with it, you will get left behind. We see big brands producing breakfast drinks and nutritional smoothies to replace actual meals, so that we can use the time we saved not eating properly to do something more important, like work.
This way of living is unsustainable. We all have those busy days, where you find yourself in a hurry, missing breakfast at home and grabbing something on the way, but this behaviour shouldn’t become the norm if you are looking for a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
As leaders, you are in a unique position to influence the behaviours of those around you. To be a healthy role model, you need to be making healthy lifestyle choices and encouraging employee health habits too.
Influencing your team to adopt healthier and more conscious workplace habits, by actively adopting and modelling these habits yourself, will improve not only your team’s wellbeing, but your individual health too.
You can offer your employees workplace health tips to help them build healthy work habits. This could include encouraging short breaks for stretching or walking to alleviate sedentary periods, promoting hydration to enhance performance and wellbeing, and emphasising the importance of maintaining a balanced diet for sustained energy levels. Furthermore, fostering an open dialogue about mental health and stress management is essential in the promotion of a holistic wellbeing approach.
By offering these workplace health tips, organisations demonstrate a commitment to the overall health and wellbeing of their employees, fostering a culture that values and supports both personal and professional development.
Why are healthy work habits important?
A healthy workforce is an essential component of your company’s overall wellbeing.
Increasing employee productivity, reducing absenteeism, building a positive work environment, and decreasing the costly risk of team members developing serious long-term health conditions are easily achievable goals when your workers are physically well and thriving.
Healthy habits can include anything from diet choices to daily routines. Encouraging choices that will benefit the physical wellbeing of your workforce might involve programmes that encourage physical activity (i.e. a bike-to-work scheme) or offering resources and training to teach them about the importance of nutrition. At the end of the day, physical wellbeing boils down to two main aspects: what you eat and what you do.
As tempting as it may be to grab a quick bite at the desk to save time, mindless eating can lead to overeating and poor food choices. Instead, you could advocate for designated eating areas where team members can take mindful breaks and enjoy nutritious meals. Providing healthy snacks like fresh fruits, nuts, and yoghurt in the office pantry also encourages better eating habits and ensures that employees have access to nourishing options throughout the day.
Additionally, incorporating physical activity into the work routine is crucial for improving physical wellbeing. Long hours of sitting can have detrimental effects on posture, muscle health, and levels of energy and focus. To combat the negative impact of prolonged sitting, you could encourage team activities that promote movement, such as walking meetings or short stretching sessions. Encouraging employees to stand up and stretch every hour can also contribute to better blood flow and increased energy levels. For a more substantial impact, consider offering sit-stand desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing, promoting better posture and reducing the risks associated with sedentary work habits.
Our Top Seven Workplace Health Tips for Your Team:
1. Our number one suggestion when it comes to building healthy work habits is: avoid eating at your desk.
Eating at your desk encourages mindless eating and unhealthy food choices. Instead, encourage team members to take breaks away from their desks and enjoy meals in designated eating areas. This practice promotes mindful eating and prevents overeating, leading to better digestion and improved overall health. Resources and online training can also be provided to remote workers to educate them on the benefits of mindful eating.
2. That means our number two has to be: promote physical activity.
Moving your body on a regular basis is paramount to supporting physical wellbeing; whether this is going for a jog in the morning; taking a short walk after lunch; or stretching before bed, a little bit of physical activity goes a long way in improving our overall wellbeing.
Organise team activities, such as walking meetings or group stretching sessions to get employees moving and to reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting. These sessions can be remote too – maybe you ask employees to do a five-minute stretch at the start of each meeting, or maybe you offer small rewards for employees that reach a certain step count everyday for a month – task repetition makes a huge difference when converting healthy choices into healthy habits.
3. In the same vein as our second most essential tip comes our third: promote active commuting.
Encourage employees to adopt active commuting options like walking or cycling to work when possible, promoting physical activity and reducing stress. This can include running programmes like bike-to-work schemes, team step count competitions or sharing a walking/cycling commute with fellow colleagues.
These activities will not only promote the physical wellbeing of your employees, but it will also support their social wellbeing by encouraging them to spend time together that isn’t centred on work.
If your company employs remote workers, encourage them to be active in the morning/evening in place of a commute. This could be a 10-minute yoga session or an hour-long bike ride. Remember: the activity needs to encourage movement, but it also needs to be something that suits their lifestyle and environment.
4. Mental and physical wellbeing are intrinsically connected, so our fourth tip is: support mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Offer resources like mindfulness training and stress reduction programmes to support overall wellbeing. These resources contribute to overall wellbeing by addressing both the mental and physical aspects of health. Mindfulness practices encourage employees to develop a healthier relationship with stress, promoting resilience and emotional balance.
Moreover, stress reduction programmes may include workshops or initiatives that educate employees on the importance of work-life integration, time management, and coping mechanisms.
You can also host wellbeing workshops on topics like stress management, nutrition, and exercise to educate employees on healthy habits and empower them to make positive choices.
5. To support healthy eating, our fifth tip is: offer healthy snacks.
Provide nutritious snacks like fruits, nuts, and yoghurt in the office pantry to encourage healthier food choices during breaks, and offer guidance, training and information on nutrition to educate all workers (including those working remotely) on the importance of a balanced diet and healthy eating habits.
You can also provide this information in designated eat areas so onsite employees can easily access the resources they need to make informed decisions about their physical health.
6. For number six, we suggest that you create ergonomic workstations.
Ensure that workstations are set up ergonomically, providing proper back support and encouraging good posture to reduce the risk of back pain and other related issues.
Consider providing sit-stand desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing positions, promoting better posture and reducing the risks associated with prolonged sitting.
Make sure to signpost to resources educating remote workers on how to manage their home-working environments to better protect their physical wellbeing. You could even require them to self-assess the quality of their workstation to raise their awareness of the importance of ergonomic facilities.
7. …And last but not least (and perhaps the most important of all): lead by example.
We’ll keep this point short and sweet: practise what you preach.
As a manager, you must demonstrate healthy habits by taking regular breaks, engaging in physical activities, and prioritising self-care. Your actions will inspire and motivate your team to do the same.
To address bigger organisational issues, you have to take a deeper look at the individual components that constitute your company.
Use Urich’s wisdom to think about it like this: your workers are the inside of your organisation, and the reputation, results and performance of your company is the outside. For your company to be healthy on the outside (drive performance, attract and retain talent and win business), you need to make sure the inner elements of your company (your employees) are happy and healthy. By encouraging them to build healthy work habits, you are striving to better the physical health of your workforce, which is an aspect of their overall health that will have a huge impact on their individual wellbeing and collective performance.
Similarly, the individual physical and mental health of your workers makes up the inner part of collective employee wellbeing and performance. To reach key milestones through improved workplace wellbeing, your workforce needs to reap the benefits of making healthy lifestyle choices, which your actions and initiatives can promote. Enhancing the physical health of your employees, ensures the future health of your business.
For more guidance on encouraging your team to build healthy in-office and out-of-office habits, visit our website to access our core and specialised training offerings.