Where I work, at HealthFitness, we support healthy choices in our day-to-day operations. For us, it begins with support from the company’s leadership. Our leaders have made a commitment to encouraging healthful behavior in the everyday routine of our employees. Employees at our corporate headquarters in Minneapolis have free access to treadmill workstations and an on-site fitness center—and you’ll see leaders from multiple levels in the organization using both regularly.
However, every company is different and it often is challenging to get leaders to actively embrace, let alone serve as champions of, employee health and wellness.
One challenge facing employees is the negative stigma that may be associated with working out at work. While employees’ peers may encourage them to spend their lunch hours working out, leaders and managers with the company may still view the activity as “wasting time” during working hours.
A growing number of companies are using creative approaches to reach leaders at all levels of the company, actively engage them, and boost employee health. Here’s a look at six of the more innovative approaches I’ve seen recently.
1. Beat the boss. I believe the most successful employee wellness programs have visible leadership that can be called upon for support—whether it’s approving strategic program decisions or taking the first official step in a new walking program.
For example, senior leaders at one health plan “walk the talk” as they lead weekly walks with employees. Employees track their total steps daily and those that “beat the boss” for the week are entered into a raffle to win a prize—and bragging rights.
2. Get dunked. If you had a chance to “dunk” your manager in a dunk take, would you take a shot? Employees at one leading financial services company get the opportunity to make a splash during the company’s “Fitness Field Day,” where employees compete in fun fitness challenges. Senior managers serve as judges for the fitness events and then take turns in the dunk tank!
3. Screen time stories. Let your employees know that their health and well-being is important. Use a variety of communication channels spread the word—whether it is email, newsletters, meetings, posters and more. For example, one high-tech company taps into the power of video to engage employees in wellness. Company leaders describe what being healthy means to them during video interviews. The interviews are then shared on video monitors throughout the corporate campus as well as with remote employees.
4. Energy in and out. Move beyond the four walls of the fitness centers and ask managers to invite wellness practitioners to meetings to lead energy breaks with their employees.
5. Take a tour. Leaders at one manufacturing company serve as wellness tour guides for their departments, taking employees on a tour of the company’s new corporate fitness facility. Not only does this spread the word about the facility; employees learn more about the additional wellness resources, including stress relief, sleep tips and more.
6. Provide healthy meals. Instead of providing donuts or unhealthy food options at the next department meeting, a growing number of companies are integrating with their on-site dining services to make energy breaks available, along with a healthy meal.
These are only a few of the creative approaches I have seen be successful in the workplace recently. What about you? What unique strategies have worked for you to help leaders activate well-being in your workplace?