Building healthy habits isn’t easy to do, but it’s crucial to help your employees remain productive and happy. Have you launched something similar to the Take a Hint Health Challenge at your company yet? This type of wellness campaign is an ideal tool to help get your workforce on the right track toward meaningful, healthy changes. It takes small modifications in habits and behaviors to create substantial, positive outcomes in an employee’s health, and you can make that possible with a few key steps.

Small Behavioral Changes Matter

Changing habits starts by recognizing areas of potential improvement, which usually revolve around diet and exercise. A few ways to promote this sort of thinking include:

  • Promoting wellness exams. To determine which healthy habits employees need to focus on, encourage employees to have their BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels tested. Often, this is an eye-opening experience for employees who haven’t taken the time to take stock of their health.
  • Challenging your employees. Consider launching a wellness challenge—like the Take a Hint Health Challenge — at your company. This type of wellness campaign is an ideal tool to help get your workforce on the right track toward meaningful, healthy changes.
  • Switching up the menu at work. Employers providing in-house meals, such as in a cafeteria setting, can encourage employees by offering more healthful food choices. Swap in whole-grain breads and pastas, more fruits and vegetables, and water instead of soda. Why not create a punch-card rewards program? Every meal that includes a serving of healthy food earns a punch on a card. Offer a small reward for those who fill their cards within a certain period.
  • Encouraging an afternoon walk. Productivity levels slip after lunch. Encourage the team to take a 15-minute walk outside. The fresh air and exercise can help reinvigorate employees.

Turning Healthy Decisions Into Habits

A study by the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it takes about two months or 66 days for new habits to form. To encourage employees to maintain their healthy habits longer, be proactive. Create charts to track progress in specific areas, which is how the Take a Hint Health Challenge operates, or invest in simple tools such as step counters or apps that track calorie consumption. Employers can also encourage long-term development of positive habits through leading by example. If the manager is making healthy eating changes, employees may be more motivated to follow that same path.

How to Get Started

Employers can quickly implement an initiative like the Take a Hint Health Challenge. To do so, begin with a positive, motivational meeting that conveys the value of forming healthy habits by cutting out unhealthy routines, then present the challenge to employees.

Use apps, such as MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople, to track progress if employees wish to do so, and post charts at your workplace — note that it’s probably more prudent to form teams so the focus isn’t on individuals, however. Working together as a support system can help hesitant employees feel more comfortable with trying to make changes. Don’t forget: Business owners and management should lead the process.

Sandy Baker is a full-time freelance writer specializing in health, personal finance and Internet marketing. Her long-term history online has included publications with companies including Marriott Hotels, The New York Times and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses. She is also published in print with award-winning books such as The Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Complete Guide to Early Retirement, The Complete Bankruptcy Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses and The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care.