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5 ways to encourage your employees to be healthier

34573010 - a businesswoman solves lightly every weight workGood health is associated with a variety of positive outcomes for employees, such as: higher levels of job satisfaction, better mental health, lower rates of absenteeism, and greater productivity in the workplace. If you want a healthier, more productive team, then here are 5 fun ways to incentivize your employees to get healthier, both in the workplace and in their own personal lives:

Get Active in the Office

There are many documented health risks of sitting too long, including: neck and spine problems, higher risk for certain types of cancers, greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular problems, muscle degeneration, and poor circulation in the legs, to name a few. If you’re in the typical office with an 8-hour workday, then it’s extremely important to foster an environment of movement and physical activity throughout the day.

Some simple changes you can try (while accounting for employees with disabilities’ unique needs): standing desks, desk treadmills, swapping out desk chairs for balance balls, encouraging others to take the stairs instead of the elevator, offering discounted gym memberships, and so much more.

Take Your Meetings On-the-Go

As a manager, it’s your job to lead by example. And what better way to do this than by conducting meetings on-the-go? Unless you absolutely need to be sitting to take notes, you could walk around your building or on the sidewalks outside of your building while discussing projects and deadlines with your employees. If you’re relatively fit and won’t sound too winded over the phone, you could even conduct meetings with clients from a Bluetooth headset while walking.

If you’re concerned about keeping track of information, you could simply record meetings with your phone to review when you return to your desk later on. Don’t let the comfort of an office prevent you and your employees from seeking out new opportunities to get active — especially when access to a computer isn’t a necessity.

Hikes Over Happy Hour

Many colleagues go out for drinks after a long day at work, but sharing a round isn’t the only way to socialize outside of the office. Instead, you could lead willing participants on a local hike after work or on weekends. If hiking isn’t an easy option, you could opt for post-workday bike rides as a group, weekly in-house yoga sessions, or simply go for a long walk after everyone clocks out. You’ll all save money and feel better by choosing activities over alcohol!

Host a Fitness Contest

If your company doesn’t already offer fitness and/or weight loss contests, then talk to your HR department or boss about creating a company-wide competition. Since employee health costs are skyrocketing and sicker employees are less productive and absent more frequently, you have a strong incentive to foster healthier habits among your team. However, it’s important to give your employees autonomy over their health decisions, which is why optional fitness contests are increasingly popular.

You may have just one overall winner or multiple winners and runners-up in different categories (e.g., BMI reduction, best calorie-tracking and exercise records, overall health improvement from their initial baseline assessments, etc.). Prizes can include anything from gift certificates for healthy restaurants, free gym memberships, meal kit subscriptions, and company-branded swag.

Create Company Racing Teams

Why not kill two birds with one stone and combine team bonding with health-oriented activities? Creating a racing team for a charity run or group biking event is a great way to encourage team members to socialize with each other and get healthier as they train for upcoming events. It’s also great for community PR if you sponsor an event and/or create team t-shirts for everyone who participates!