Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to overall health, decreasing blood flow and creating joint issues from posture. Though you can’t control how your employees take care of themselves off hours, you can instill a workplace culture that values their health through small but effective changes that encourage movement. Employee health and wellbeing is one of the 9 Pillars of Employee Engagement. The wellness benefits of encouraging employee movement are numerous.
1. Increased Productivity
BMC Public Health conducted a 19-week study on the impact of the workplace ‘sit less, move more’ program. The study concluded that employees who participated in a web-based wellness program increased workday mobility by 21 minutes/day and increased productivity. Employees who tracked via a journal and/or pedometer did not increase productivity and would need to increase their work hours by 1.7% to maintain productivity. To increase your workplace productivity, implement a structured ‘sit less, move more’ program. If you don’t have the resources to invest in a web-based platform, consider putting together a plan. This could include activities such as walking meetings and scheduled walking breaks (as a group or solo). It’s also a good idea to set a goal to get up and move. Because there are so many options available, we suggest sending out surveys to evaluate your workforce and to see what resonates with employees the best.
2. Morale Boost
Employee wellbeing programs should be designed to create a positive impact on your workplace culture. Flexible scheduling is a great benefit to reduce stress — allowing employees to head to the gym early, make a doctor visit or provide the time to attend family activities.
Society has incentivized employees to participate in wellness programs targeted to increase steps, build strength, and improve mindfulness. These programs create comradery, friendly competition, increased health habits and prizes for those that participate. In 2019, Society Insurance had 85.5% of employees participate in at least one wellness activity and 82.7% of those employees were either satisfied or very satisfied with the program.
3. Decreased Burnout
Did you know that intermittent breaks result in higher and more sustainable work performance? Powering through your day may get more work done, but ask yourself, is the quality up to snuff and are you exhausted at the end of the day? To decrease burnout and foster productivity, get up to talk with a colleague, walk the stairs, walk the building (or home) and disengage from the day-to-day. Encourage your employees to take ‘high quality’ breaks to increase energy and reduce exhaustion at the end of the workday. If you are the manager, lead by example. Your employees will be more likely to follow and take advantage of the opportunity.
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How to Begin Implementing Movement Changes
Each organization has a different work culture and situation, so the best place to start is to look for immediate changes that don’t disrupt operations too much.
- Conduct a wellness audit. Make sure your employees equipment, namely desks and chairs, allow for the best possible ergonomics.
- Discuss with your controllers the best way to implement immediate changes. According to Steelcase, the core positions of working are sitting, standing and walking, so encourage for employees to break their day up among those positions.
- Have a way to measure the effects of these changes. Benchmarking this will allow you to maintain its priority.
- Maintain an open and flexible work policy. Communicate your policy and continue to remind people of any changes. Create a forum in which employees can provide feedback and suggestions.
To learn more about the small details that make a big difference for your business, contact your local Society agent or read our HR blog series for additional blog posts on relevant topics for your business.