By Steven Pearce
Many of us spend up to eight hours a day in our workspace. Much of that time is spent sitting at a computer, which can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Others in service or manufacturing sectors must stand for long hours. Hours on your feet can lead to health issues such as weight gain, increased stress, and mental health issues. In an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle. Employers can encourage employees to take breaks, offering relief from these prolonged positions.
The World Health Organization started an initiative titled: Be the Change, Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle at the Workplace. The WHO published a 36-page PDF with guidelines and suggestions on how to encourage a healthy lifestyle within the workplace. The BTC initiative was written for companies in Southeast Asia, but can be implemented within any country.
BTC operates under four principles:
- Individual empowerment: Change yourself and believe that you are in control of your own habits and health. Every individual change ultimately brings greater changes.
- Institutional/organizational image/brand: Change your working environment through promotion of healthy and happy workplaces, making health a core business value.
- Champions and role-modeling: Take actions and be accountable for yourself and others. Build and champion models for healthy lifestyles and healthy workplaces.
- Partnership: Be part of a chain of positive energy to bring changes in society and the world at large, to continue to grow, involve, and evolve.
The BTC program is built on the principle that individuals have the ability to adopt healthier lifestyles and prevent noncommunicable diseases when supported by a healthy workplace environment.
The six initiatives encouraged by the BTC program are:
- WATCH your plate: to promote healthy living
- WATCH your waist and weight
- WATCH your steps: to promote physical activity
- WATCH your stress level
- WATCH and monitor your changes: to encourage regular screening
- WATCH your tobacco and alcohol consumption
Obviously, not all companies can afford programs like weight-rooms and gyms. Even if you are a smaller company, you still can start a wellness program. Start by surveying your employees and asking what kind of programs interest them.
Achievers wrote an article titled: Step it up! 5 ways to make a healthy lifestyle part of your company culture. These 5 suggestions are:
- Promote exercise
- Get everyone on their feet: Your company can offer stand-up desks for employees who prefer them. You can also encourage hourly stand-and-stretch breaks.
- Offer healthy snacks
- Support mental health
- Prevent illness: Offer on-site influenza vaccines or subsidized vaccination costs and offer time for employees to get vaccinated.
Encouraging and creating healthy lifestyle programs does not have to be expensive and it could lead to healthier and more productive employees. Try to invite a local gym to come and give employee discounts to use their facilities.
A healthy workforce leads to less absenteeism, more productivity, and increased job satisfaction. It is important that our workplace promotes a healthy lifestyle, not only for each individual but for the organization as a whole.