Successful healthy workplace initiatives depend on employee participation, but when programs are first integrated into the workplace, it can be hard to get people on board. A lot of employees won’t be willing to sacrifice their free time to join a work running group or a similar program. One way to combat this is to foster a workplace wellness group that does its activity during the workday. As an employer, you can encourage this type of activity by adjusting certain policies. This will communicate to employees that you want to help them improve their health.

Adjustments to Foster Workplace Wellness

Business leaders can take steps to promote a healthy workplace by offering enough flexibility for employees to take part in healthy initiatives. If you operate a business that has room for leeway in worker hours, there are a few ways to open up time during the day for working out:

  • Flexible work hours. Adopting flextime policies provides opportunities for employees to work out during the day and still maintain their expected number of work hours. Depending on the work volume, this might also include allowing employees to take a lunch break at an alternate time.
  • Longer lunch breaks. Allow employees additional time during their lunch break so that they can go to the gym or take an extended walk.
  • Telecommuting. Working from home allows employees the flexibility of utilizing workout facilities outside of peak before- and after-work hours.
  • Social support. Encourage groups to work out together by forming fitness groups or company sports teams that can meet during lunch hours or directly after work.

Workplace Environment

There are a number of ways to encourage healthy actions simply by changing elements of your workplace environment:

  • Bike racks. Install bike racks in your company parking lot to allow more employees to cycle to and from work.
  • Pedometers. Give employees pedometers so that they see the number of steps they take each day, and invite employees to take part in a friendly competition to see who can tally the most steps over a certain period (the competition prize can be health-focused, as well). Remember that any wellness programs must have alternate ways for those with a disability or health condition to participate.
  • On-site fitness classes. Have a space dedicated to fitness so that on-site exercise or yoga groups can be scheduled without disrupting the workplace. If possible, these spaces would include mats and simple fitness machines.
  • Hygiene facilities. Have a space for employees to wash or shower after exercising.
  • Walking meetings. One-on-one meetings, if appropriate, can be held outside on walking paths near your office.
  • Ergonomic work stations. Adjustable work stations allow employees to stand and move while on the phone.
  • Workplace campus design. Build walking and/or cycling paths on your work campus. If you’re in a city, include maps around the office that detail the closest walking routes.
  • Encourage the use of stairs. Improve stairwell safety with updated lighting, and brighten the color of the surrounding walls to make using the stairs more appealing.

Initiatives to establish a culture of wellness in your workplace should be seen as an investment in your employees, so as an employer, you should make pains to show that you’re on board with any health-focused ideas. Keep your employees informed about any new policies or ideas, and include them in the decision making. Employee participation will help to keep initiatives relevant and increase the likelihood of success.

Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.