Health in the Workplace

How often have you found yourself vowing to improve your health or fitness? If you are anything like the majority, chances are at some point you have embarked on some fad diet or joined the latest fitness craze in an attempt to get healthier, only to find yourself succumb to the temptation of those pesky workplace morning teas or 3.00pm sugar cravings. However, with workplace well-being programs continuously growing in popularity, could the workplace soon provide more health-help than harm?

A recent survey by AON suggested that promoting good health and wellness should be a goal of all employers in 2018, with 96 percent of respondents recognising a connection between health and work performance. Perhaps one of the most popular trends already seeing widespread adoption is the introduction of standing desks. For office based employees, the majority of the day is spent sitting at a desk, resulting in lengthy periods of sedentary activity. Such high levels of sedentary behaviour allegedly have a major effect on a person’s health, with links to both physical and mental conditions, including obesity and depression. Thus, standing desks should help ease this effect by reducing the amount of time a person is sitting down.

In addition to increasing employees’ activity levels, nutrition is also a key component. It is well established that what we eat has a greater impact on our health than the amount of exercise we do. It has been estimated that we eat approximately a third of our day’s food at work, meaning the workplace is an ideal place to assist employees in making healthy choices. Initiatives such as offering complimentary fruit, ensuring any food provided is as healthy as possible, and limiting the supply of alcohol, are small steps to encouraging employees to make healthier choices. For those interested in more quirky initiatives, perhaps.

implementing an “on-the-hour flash walk” is something to consider. A “flash walk” has been said to generate collective positive energy, as well as provide a break from sustained periods of sitting or standing. Additional physical and psychological benefits are thought to contribute to decreased healthcare costs for companies in the long run.

Sleeping on the job has been a big no-no in the past, however studies have proven that even a 20-minute power nap can reduce stress and increase productivity. Tech giants like Google and Uber are paving the way for workplace naps, introducing in-company sleep pods and resting rooms. For companies that are not quite sold on the idea of employees napping at work, investing in sleep awareness and education programs could be a beneficial alternative to combatting the decrease in productivity caused by sleep deprivation.

It is apparent that investing in the physical and mental health and wellbeing of employees stands to facilitate a healthy and productive workplace. With growing support and commitment towards promoting good health and wellness, expect to see some more innovative health initiatives develop in 2018.

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