In today’s business environment, the health of employees is often related to the health of the company. Increased job satisfaction, improved morale, reduced illness and injuries, and increased productivity are just some of the benefits of having healthy employees. Promoting health in your workplace does not have to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming. Any organization, large or small, can promote healthy eating and active living in the workplace. Here are some suggestions:
- For breakfast meetings, instead of serving donuts, large muffins, cookies, tea and coffee with cream and sugar, offer healthier alternatives such as bagels, small muffins, fresh fruit, water, 100% fruit juice and milk with coffee and tea.
- For lunch meetings, avoid serving chips, fried foods, rich pastas, and salads loaded with dressing. Instead, offer sandwiches, bagels, whole grain low fat crackers and cheese, 100 % fruit juice, water, salads with dressing on the side, vegetable and fruit trays.
- Reimburse employees for items purchased to improve their health (e.g. healthy eating cookbooks, consultation with a Registered Dietitian).
- Arrange for the cafeteria or food vendors to offer healthy food choices.
- Arrange to have healthy choices like bottled water, 100% fruit juice, fruit bars, and raisins available in vending machines.
- Provide a means for people to share healthy recipes with each other (for example, posting recipes on the Intranet, on posters or by e-mail).
- Plan events and group activities to encourage employees to become active, such as walking programs, contests and challenge events, stretch breaks, team sports or participation in local or provincial events.
- Offer on-site health professionals (e.g. personal trainers, fitness instructors) or incorporate this service in employee assistance programs to help employees work towards physical activity goals.
- Provide a supportive environment in the workplace that makes healthy choices easy: bike racks, shower facilities, clean, safe and accessible stairwells, walking or running routes in the vicinity of the workplace, and gym facilities.
- Allow for flex time so that employees have more opportunities to participate in fitness programs as part of their working day.
- Reimburse employees for full or partial club membership fees, fitness class registrations, and fitness equipment purchases.
- Provide corporate gym memberships to reduce costs of individual memberships.
Keeping It Fresh!
Find a champion to:
- Organize lunch ’n learn sessions to provide information and motivation for healthy eating and active living.
- Invite demonstrators to provide cooking lessons or tips for making healthy foods.
- Post a rotating list in a common room of local restaurants that offer healthy food choices on their menus.
- Distribute information to educate employees on portion sizes. Alberta Milk has an excellent serving sizes resource: Visual Ways to Show Serving Sizes.
- Include physical activity and nutrition information in newsletters, pay cheque inserts, bulletin boards or e-mails.
- Plan activities that promote healthy eating and physical activity. For example, start a year-round lunch-time walking club, and special activities during Nutrition Month (March), SummerActive (May to June), and Workplace Wellness Week (October).