4 Ways to Foster a Healthy Workplace

More than 2 in 5 American workers gained weight in their current job according to a new survey. Here are four steps to fostering a healthy workplace in any business.

Healthy Workplace by Industry, Gender, Age and Habits that Contribute to Weight Loss

A CareerBuilder survey reports that 44 percent of American workers gained weight on the job, and 25 percent even gained 10 or more pounds in their current role. Among the industries where workers were found to be more likely to gain weight on the job were:

  • 49% – Transportation
  • 48% – Health care
  • 46% – Financial services
  • 46% – Sales
  • 40% – Retail
  • 39% – Manufacturing
  • 38% – IT

49 percent of women vs. just 39 percent of men reported gaining weight at their current job; likewise, 49 percent of workers in management roles gained weight on the job vs. 43 percent of workers in non-management jobs. Interestingly, workers in the middle of their career were more likely than either younger or older workers to have gained weight in their current job.

Despite the popularity of workplace “Biggest Loser” and similar weight loss contests and initiatives, fostering a truly healthy workplace is about more than losing weight. In fact, contests like these can even contribute to more weight gain for employees as they rarely address the root cause of weight gain. Additionally, it can incentivize workers to lose weight “by any means possible,” which might include tactics that even jeopardize the health of participants.

There seems to be a direct correlation in three of the factors where the workplace habits of workers who gained weight differed from those who lost weight:

4 Ways to Foster a Healthy Workplace In Any Business

According to the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) employers – not just employees – stand to benefit when efforts to foster a healthy workplace payoff. Businesses that deploy workplace health programs enjoy enhanced worker productivity, decreased absenteeism, and often have lower insurance and workers compensation costs as well – cost savings which could quickly outweigh the cost of employee health and wellness benefits. Here are four steps toward fostering a healthy workplace for any type of business.

4 Ways to Foster a Healthy Workplace In Any Business

  1. Start Safe Discussions

Let’s face it: Talking about health and fitness topics may be uncomfortable, especially if those discussions are limited only to the topic of weight. However, it’s impossible to purposefully foster a healthy workplace without communicating on these topics. Consider sponsoring group or team-based health and fitness group initiatives for voluntary participation or invite employees to establish groups for discussion or activities. Establish rules to help ensure that employees feel safe and supported should they choose to participate.

  1. Share Resources and Recipes

Establish a digital or break room bulletin board where anyone can share wellness tips, articles, recipes, and other resources. Set up an employee email distribution group and send a weekly newsletter or daily health or wellness tip to staff (and invite staff to contribute ideas, articles and recipes for distribution).

Compile a list of nearby gyms, fitness and recreation centers and a list of local nutritionists or other experts who can help employees craft nutritionally-based weight management programs based on their unique needs.

  1. Facilitate

From gym memberships to on-site fitness and workout facilities to workplace walking groups, there are many ways to foster a healthy workplace by making it more convenient for employees to participate in exercise. What’s more, encouraging workers to get away from their desks or workstations instead of working through lunch or breaks also lets them know that you value their health and well-being.

You can also support employee weight goals by underwriting the expert services of a certified eating psychology coach who can work with employees on a group or individual basis, to help them release weight by discovering the root causes of and healing emotional eating.

If your business provides food services, vending machines or makes snacks and beverages available in employee lunch and break areas, ensuring that healthy options are available is another excellent way to foster a healthy workplace and demonstrate concern and care for staff.

Explore options for modifying employee workstations such as convertible height desks and office chair variants. Encourage employees to offer up ideas and suggestions for improving all or their own work space and consider paying for some or all of the accommodations requested.

  1. Educate

Enhance your company’s employee development program by bringing in wellness experts to speak about general health and wellness topics as well as offer tips those in specific types of jobs (office workers, drivers, outside sales, non-office workers, etc.) can use to improve their on-the-job and break time habits in ways that contribute to a healthy workplace.

Make sure that employees are aware of the health and wellness perks which are available to them through company reimbursement or benefit programs. Encourage employees to use vacation time and don’t make it seem like an imposition when they do!

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