Although some corporations have come a long way in terms of supporting employee wellness, there is still a mountain to climb. From cookie-filled catered events to the ubiquitous office vending machine (and its requisite processed snacks), most businesses could use a wellness makeover. Considering that we spend more of our heartbeats at work than anywhere else, this can often create a serious health challenge.
While many of us are resigned to the idea that our workplaces are inextricably unhealthy, there are plenty of ways that you can give your office a wellness revamp. The key to changing your workplace is to be the change. In fact, you’d be shocked at how receptive your fellow employees and/or corporate leadership will be when you use your voice and lead by example.
Here are some of the ways you can do so.
REVAMP SNACK TIME
Recently in my health coaching business, I was consulting for a large organization. In nearly all of my one-on-one sessions with employees, they complained that office snacks were sabotaging their healthy habits. They’d be doing great all day...and then the 4pm witching hour would hit and they’d reach straight for the office-provided corn nuts or buttery popcorn.
Take the lead and speak to human resources about bringing in healthy vending options through companies like h.u.m.a.n, which supplies macronutrient-dense office snacking options. If cost is a concern, then look to invite in local vendors and have them sample products to employees during the workday. Whether they’re making kombucha or creating gluten-free snacks, most of these business are clamoring to get exposure.
RETHINK THE CATERED LUNCH - AND BEYOND
If unhealthy catered lunches are taking you down, put in a request with team leaders to look into healthier options. Large, shared salads, veggie-centric wraps, and fruit platters aren’t always more expensive than sandwiches, muffins, and cookies. Find some menus of locations in your area, share them with whomever is responsible for ordering, and watch the healthy magic unfold. Along those lines, companies like Square Roots and Green Top Farm can help further facilitate healthy eating in the office and beyond. These innovative business come straight to your office and deliver farm-fresh produce and meals. For anyone who struggles to get the groceries post-work, they’re truly game-changing services.
GET SOME BACKBONE
Sitting all day can be hard work -- on your back! According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain costs employers at least $50 billion per year; the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates it to be closer to $200 billion dollars per year! If you’re worried about postural deficiencies or impending back issues, talk to your employee wellness officers about procuring standing desks. These days, they’re so sophisticated that you can choose from a treadmill, bike or standing varieties. If that’s too expensive for your new-to-wellness-workplace, it’s incredibly easy to create a makeshift standing desk out of a pile of books. Do it and I promise you that your team members will follow suit.
MAKE TEAM-BUILDING ABOUT HEALTH
When I started my career, it seemed like every activity revolved around drinking or generally over-indulging. We’d wine and dine clients and then arrive home so late that we’d inevitably miss our workouts. That was my life until it took such a toll on me that I developed two autoimmune diseases and had to change everything. These days, work dinners are usually “spin and din” or a fun exercise class followed by a great, healthy meal.
So, instead of going out for boozy activities, try something a little more active. If sweating with your coworkers isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of ways to keep it healthy. Maybe it’s an interactive experience like Escape the Room or a healthy gelato-making class. Whatever it is, share your ideas with team leads and planners and get the wellness ideas circulating.
REAP THE BENEFITS OF GROUP WORKOUTS
Many local studios will actually comp passes to companies in an effort to get them to experience their offerings. Reach out to a few places in your neighborhood -- it can be anything from group strength training class to yoga to team-inspired indoor cycling (I love Swerve) -- and see if they'd be willing to do a group introductory class. Not only will you be saving your colleagues money, you’ll be setting the stage for an office-wide commitment for good health. And you know what they say: Strength in numbers!