Getting Employees Active


We all work hard. Increasingly employees are spending longer hours at work either working overtime or connected online. It all adds up. Wellness programs may help employees reduce stress, avoid workplace accidents, ward off future potential health problems or assist in managing existing ones. For organizations wellness programs mean reduced turnover, increased productivity, less absenteeism and lower benefit use.    So with so much to gain, why are most workplaces devoid of a wellness program? From lack of time, space or resources, employers may believe that they can’t afford to get involved in their employees’ wellness. But by making small changes, everyone benefits.  The following low cost ideas should get you started, but ideally using employee suggested variations would receive more buy-in.

Mediation Mondays – Have small meetings to allow employees to plan or mediate upcoming deadlines or problems.  This will avoid the Monday morning blues and allow workers to feel less pressure and hopefully more in control.

Tea Time Tuesdays – What could be better than a cup of tea (or coffee) and a chat with the boss? Having a break with your staff allows them to let you know what they are working on, inform you of any concerns and also offer their solutions to problems they encounter. It should make them feel that their opinion is important.

Walking Wednesdays – Plan a lunch time walking club. This is a fitness booster and a great stress reliever. If the company has some property with flower beds, have summer weeding sessions or fall or spring clean up workouts.

Tension Free Thursdays – Have someone lead a low impact five minute stretch break.  This fun exercise can be done standing at a desk or safely on the shop floor and is guaranteed to relieve tension and refresh which in turn should increase productivity.

Fresh Fruit Fridays – For a small expense, stock the lunchroom with fresh fruit. Have fun providing the staples, but try to add some exotic fruit (with blindfolded taste testing) to avoid boredom. One word of caution, poll the staff first to ensure that there are no allergies to any of your picks. You may awaken a taste for fresh fruit that they will continue to enjoy away from the workplace.

Depending on your budget, consider a weekly baseball/hockey/curling team, plan a golf tournament or offer a gym membership. Plan to get involved in the Canada Healthy Workplace Month (CHWM) which is held annually during fall.

Employers who offer wellness incentives should see lower costs and happy, healthy and refreshed employees. Don’t stop the program if some of your employees are not interested. Remember to lead by example.  Don’t give up; just get smarter at how you deliver the message or program. Active employees make good business sense. Your employees will be glad you care enough to have made the effort.