With the popularity of workplace wellness programs reaching new levels each year, employers are investing more and more in the idea of improving their employees’ health, but there are also ways to get people engaged in their health that are practically free. Here are five ideas that your business could implement quickly at low cost:
- Designate a bike storage room. Bicycling is not only a healthy activity but an efficient form of transportation, especially in urban areas. The health benefits are remarkable: According to Outside Online, bike commuters lose 13 pounds on average just in their first year of biking. One obstacle for cyclist commuters, however, is finding a safe place to put their bicycles during the workday. If you have a spare room in your office, you can cheaply create a bike room, as shown by the Bike To Work Day website. Even if you don’t have bike racks or a shower, simply giving your employees a safe space to store a bike inside, away from the elements and potential thieves, could motivate more of your workforce to get active and start biking.
- Paint the staircase. If your office building has multiple floors, you probably have a dark, gray staircase that no one uses except during fire drills. Consider throwing a coat of paint on the staircase to brighten it up; this could help encourage people to use the stairs instead of the elevator. There are numerous benefits to climbing stairs, detailed by LIVESTRONG.com, so making stairs more accessible is important. In an example shown by ShapeUp, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found a significant increase in foot traffic on their stairways when they painted them, laid down carpet and even added artwork and music. While you may not have the funds to pipe in a soundtrack, you could organize a volunteer effort to paint the stairwell, keep the stairway doors open and put up a simple sign showing people that the stairs are open for business.
- Ban the donuts. One of the biggest temptations at the office is the pastries and other sweets that are left around the break room or common areas. If your company is committed to wellness, consider taking a stand against junk food. Make it a rule that if employees are going to bring in snacks to share, they need to be healthy (think carrots and celery instead of bagels). If a vendor stops by with a box of donuts, tell them to take it with them when they leave.
- Plant a company garden. Even if you have just a little strip of grass or dirt in front of your office (or on the roof!), you can create a garden that employees can help plan, plant and tend. Crain’s Chicago Business explains how a Chicago company recently designed a 30-by-40-foot organic vegetable garden that is used to get a sedentary workforce up and moving throughout the day. Giving your employees a chance to get fresh air, move around and be engaged in something that isn’t sitting in front of a computer can give your wellness initiative a new angle.
- Start an office yoga program. While you may not have a gym or even an exercise room at the office, you’d be surprised at how you can use your space, as shown by The Huffington Post, for a wellness initiative such as office yoga. Simply booking a conference room once a week can open up enough space for willing participants to engage in a yoga program. Even if you can’t afford to engage a yoga teacher, you can ask your employees if one of them would be interested in researching some simple poses and leading a class.
Studies, including this one made by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and featured on Healthways, show that healthier employees are more productive employees. Getting your employees actively thinking about their health can be a big step toward that productivity goal. And when employees can help build that wellbeing initiative from the ground up, they’ll have some skin in the game as well.
Andrew Reinbold has been focused on the health care marketing and communication space for over five years. He currently focuses on business to business content for WellPoint, Inc. that is relevant to employers and brokers as they navigate the changing healthcare environment.